Tsukiji fish markets are one of those things that appear on almost every tourists’ itinerary when they visit Japan for the first time usually wedged between geisha hunting, visiting robot restaurants and using a toilet that cleans and dries your booty after your business.
Fresh sashimi, Japanese street food and snacks adorn every nook and cranny of the famous markets. There are auctions for tuna the size of elephants and salmon that sing karaoke the same way Mariah Carey sings Christmas songs, it’s a maze of deliciousness and wonder.
Venture deeper into the maze are a murderer’s row of sushi restaurants.
And I managed to weasel my way into Sushi Daiwa.
My advice for securing a spot at Daiwa is either go early (like at 5am) or go alone (but you still need to get there at around 7am). It’s an intimate spot and everyone wants in on that sushi sanctuary. You wait in line like you’re about to have your powers unlocked by Guru on Namek except it’s your tastebuds that get unleashed on **SPOILER ALERT** amazing sushi instead of your inner Super Saiyan.
I watched a group of four consider selling out their friend because an opening for three had just opened up within the restaurant. If life were a reality show, it went from Man vs. Food to Survivor and the one guy got voted off Friendship Island.
After about an hour, it was my turn to stuff my face.
The lovely annachaannn and I opted for omakase (in the hands of the chef) and let the sushi veterans get to work on feeding us.
The meal is rapid fire with your next bite of sushi hitting the plate before you were even done with the previous course. Hell, the whole omakase meal only went for about 15 minutes. I’ve been stuck in KFC drive throughs for longer durations.
Let’s go with the first piece of popcorn chicken sushi.
First up was what I expected to be my favourite bite of fish: otoro (aka fatty tuna belly). My expectations were so high that you needed two solid ladders from Bunning’s to go and meet them.
Yet, that is exactly what this bite sized piece of happiness did. So fatty and delicious, the tuna simply dissolved once it made acquaintance with my tastebuds. This was a stronger start than the pilot of Friday Night Lights and just as jaw dropping.
Just make sure none of that tuna drops out of it.
Oh shoot, I don’t like uni. Uni’s overpriced, smelly and forced me to read a bunch of scholarly articles I couldn’t access unless I paid a subscription fee of $14.99 a month.
Whoops, wrong type of uni.
Uni (also known as sea urchin) is something I’ve given multiple chances over the years and recoiled at every single time. I understand that its naturally creamy texture is delicious but the aftertaste reminded me of drowning in the sea and swallowing salt water.
However, I thought that if there was ever a place that could change my mind, I was sitting in it.
And lo and behold, it did. This was the greatest piece of uni I had ever had the pleasure of sampling. Beautifully coated in sweet soy. I was finally able to enjoy the creamy texture without feeling like I had been kicked in the face by Bondi Beach afterwards.
I loved how well the sushi chefs at Sushi Daiwa utilised wasabi, every piece of sushi had the most optimal amount of wasabi to complement the rice and fish.
The shrimp wasn’t an exception to the rule, the wasabi reared its head and said what’s up as it fondled the shrimp on your chopsticks. The shrimp was chewy but in an enjoyable shrimp flavoured gum way.
Just don’t chew a bunch of these before a date.
The rolls weren’t the strongest courses but they were still a joy to eat. The roe was quite salty and the tuna just couldn’t hold a candle to its fatty cousin but was still delicious.
Anywhere else and these rolls might’ve been absolute all-stars, but it was just a supporting act in this sushi concert star of stars.
This piece was quite different to any piece of sushi I had tried before. There were still bits of shell attached to the lightly charred shrimp. It was quite smoky and I liked the crunch that the shell provided (think soft shell crab as opposed to careless seafood salesman).
If this were Hogwarts, I would have absolutely no problem with squidditch training 7 days a week.
(In other words, this was pretty great squid).
Hamachi (amberjack) is a type of game fish usually found in warmer parts of the ocean (thanks Wikipedia) which is funny because eating it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling in my stomach.
Perfect blob of wasabi and almost melt-in-your-mouth hamachi slid down my throat as easily as girls turned down my requests for dates in high school.
I was eel-ated to see eel pop up on my plate. I loved the sauce that glazed the tender eel so much that I started googling Japanese marriage laws to see if it’d be ok to enter holy matrimony sushi (it’s allowed in certain parts of Hokkaido but only if you do it in dark and empty alleyways).
You know what I just realised? If you’re reading this word by word (and only about 3 of you are), it probably took you longer than 15 minutes to get this point. 15 minutes into my meal at Daiwa and I was already getting my money ready to pay the bill and scallop away to my next tourist destination.
Scallop has always been one of my favourite types of seafood, it was incredibly light, soft and even a tad sweet. It was very rice to make its acquaintance.
Last but definitely not least is an eggcellent eggxample of how versatile eggs can be.
Sweet, pillowy and b-egging to be eaten is Sushi Daiwa’s awesome tamago. And nope, this one didn’t need wasabi to be delicious or nutritious.
Yeah, this blog posts needs to end.
Here’s the TL;DR for everyone still waiting in line for a spot in Sushi Daiwa:
- Worth the wait and weight, Sushi Daiwa is a must-visit for all sushi enthusiasts.
- Get fish or dai trying.
Address: Japan, 〒104-0045 Tokyo, 中央区Tsukiji, 5−2−1
Monday – Saturday: 5:30am – 1:30pm