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Mar 2, 2010 07:07 AM

Tsukiji donburi

I could swear that I read something about an especially good bowl of rice and raw fish, that one of the posters here had at Tsukiji. Now I'm browsing this board for half an hour, and still I can't find it. Unfortunate! Can somebody help with a link?


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  1. There’s been threads on kaisen donburi and donburi in general in the last year or so. But I would search on the internet in Japanese for better coverage. Tsukiji doesn’t seem to specialize in kaisendon the way fish markets in other parts of Japan do (i.e. Numazu, Omicho, Hakodate). Here’s a blog ranking, with some Tsukiji shops, by a person who laments this fact- .... Not in Tsukiji, but up in Okachimachi along the tracks there are several kaisendon places.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      Okachimachi is even better! Closer to where I live. Can you recommend a place?

      1. re: Scharn

        I've never eaten at any of them. I've bought stuff from the fish vendors and made my own at home though.

    2. I've eaten at every counter on the street pictured in that blog and I've never had anything bad. I always eat a tekka-don and it's always good. The ones that sell mostly fish bowls usually have better sushi rice than the ones that sell lots of cooked stuff, but you really can't go wrong, especially for less than ¥1000.

      1. The longer I post here, the more I think that we *need* a sticky thread which just lists the great places re Tsukiji, Ramen, Yakitori etc. I think the questions (mine including) are quite repetitive. Also, it would be great to have a single thread for reference, probably with links to the other threads. There are so many gems in this board, hidden somewhere, not really organized. It is such a shame!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scharn

          Seriously? There's not really that much in the way of restaurants recommended here and a sticky will only further the trend to continually recommend the same shops that keep getting recycled for those categories.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Wouldn't it be nice to have, say, a list with the shops that have found general approval?

            1. re: Scharn

              There's no such thing as general approval here. This is an active food discussion board, not a food rating site. A sticky is a publicly visible perma-link that is closed for discussion. Locking in recommended shops in a sticky would defeat the entire purpose of this enterprise.

        2. Two guide books I have on Tsukiji Fish Market eats/shops (published originally in Japan) seem to recommend Nakaya for kaisendon, although it isn't some insane variety. Both books feature the uni and crab kaisendon, or the one that has ikura, uni, and toro. The uni used is either Hokkaido bafun or Murasaki. And it's pretty much a tourist destination spot with long lines on top of that.

          30 Replies
          1. re: K K

            thanks! actually it's 4:55 I'm still in the office and have been thinking about doing a tsukiji breakfast =) Will leave soon.

            Edit: Ok, I just googled it and...You saved my day! This allnighter had be so annoyed, but now the thought of uni, toro, crab....Yes!


            1. re: Scharn

              Nakaya was actually listed in the link I posted above but I see that the blogger spelled it with the wrong kanji- or actually, with the more intuitive kanji, than the shop actually uses. He or she (prolly he) noted that people line up there.

              If you want something hot, you can try the maguro hoho niku steak (marinated and grilled tuna cheek meat) donburi at this creatively named place- . It's on TV from time to time. I had it once and it was pretty good. I was trying to remember it before and just realized it was linked at the bottom on that guy's blog.

              Interestingly, that blogger noted that many consider the 1000 YEN kaisendon at this casual Ginza spot to be the best--> .

              1. re: Scharn

                Going back to my book, the writeup states that the owner of Nakaya remains steadfast on fixing the prices of his kaisendon, the book may be 2 years old but it mentioned 1700 yen across the board (strangely Atsushi Koseki's book says 1000 yen but perhaps there's a large and small sized kaisendon?), even though the price of uni changes and has been on the rise.

                Should you hanker for other fixes... my book also mentions:

                Uogashi Sandaime Chiaki for wild maguro zuke don (800 yen), lunch only.

                Ichiba no Chubo (5-2-1, 1st floor building?) - 1500 yen kaisendon with 10 kinds of fish. The photo has uni, octopus, ikura, uni, maguro, tamagoyaki, tobiko or masago, something that could be buri, and some hikarimono I could not make out.

                Uoshiki at 6-20-6 in the book features salmon "oyako" don (sake and ikura) at 1000 yen, plus a kuro maguro don at 1500 yen.

                You can also try Oedo Shokudo at 5-2-1 #6 (maybe close by to Nakaya), which claims to offer 60 varieties of donburi (not everything kaisen of course).

                1. re: K K

                  Thanks guys!

                  I went there this morning, wanted to get a uni+otoro don but then i suddenly went cheap and got the uni+akami. The uni was very good, very fresh, however the maguro was.... half-frozen! Now, I am not a donburi expert, but is this supposed to be like this? I went there quite early (shortly before 7 maybe) and this might have been too little time for the auctioned fish to unfreeze? The rice was so-so, for some reason it was quite sticky and large chunks would seem glued together. Not sure how I can describe this well, but I have had much better rice before.

                  Overall I was surprised that the quality was -not- on par with a sushi dai(wa) etc. This may be my ignorance, but suspected that the donburi shops would basically use the "endpieces" of the tuna or any other bits that you can't make sushi/sashimi from. However, I have eaten much much better tuna before.

                  As a side-note, the map shown on gnavi is incorrect as is google maps. For some reason both have tagged Nakaya somewhere in the far west of the market. Well, no, it's not there. Instead it's a few meters away from Sushi Dai(wa), Sushi Bun etc. However as the maps showed it to be specifically somewhere else I walked around a good 20 minutes not finding it. In the end I asked some fish guy, but he had never heard of Nakaya. However when I told him I wanted to eat uni, that aroused his ambition so he got his crew together and they finally figured it out, then escorted me halfway there. They were all really old, slightly grim looking folks in full fish-cutting outfit.

                  So, when I arrived at the shop (alone), there was no line and maybe 5 of the 10-12 seats taken. I entered and was greeted by panicking looks of some dude almost shouting "ORDER?? ORDER? OUTSIDE!!". Well, I just told him what I wanted and when he heard uni, he was amazed and he and his coworker would talk about it for what seemed like minutes. (Really? What's up with that uni? Never before had 'uni' trigger any such reaction.

                  So, my half-frozen food arrived when a Western couple entered. This morning I have seen more slightly weird looking foreigners than in January and February combined. Anyways, they would sit next to me and what followed was a ginormous mess up, done by the book, every step of the way, all the way. Well after having order from the pictures and while their food was in the making they decided to check if they could pay with credit card, which the waiter tried to make them understand they could not. It took them quite a while to figure out that *NO* card would work. Then they frantically started to look for cash. At this point I half-ignored them, but I think in the end their orders where altered so that they could afford it. When the food arrived the picture taking started. I do take pictures of food myself, but they started to mess with their DSLRs, of course they used flash. They easily took 10-15 frames. Then, in the end they only poked into their bowl and didn't really eat anything and then they where gone. I must say it was quite the perfect storm of unacceptable behavior nicely condensed into maybe 10 minutes.

                  Oh, one more question: I would like to try out the different Sushi shops at the market, and I would like to fit maybe 5 or so shops into a single morning. I only want to eat 2 maybe 3 pieces per shop. Would this be considered rude? When would be the best time to do this? Really early? Quite late?

                  1. re: Scharn

                    You will always get what you pay for. I think people have a bit of an inflated expectation based on the fact they are eating at Tsukiji. I've never been blown away by anything I've eaten around there. It's wishful thinking that those touristy donburi places written up in guide books are buying their tuna from that morning's auction. Those guide books or the glossy magazine coverage are good for cataloging what's out there. Better to read Tabelog reviews and blog coverage for real intel. The blog link I posted more or less confirmed the down-to-earth expectations for Tsukiji kaisendoburi scene by saying that there is no number one recommendation. Why don't you check out the Ginza spot, which seems to be actually recommended?

                    Regarding the ordering of 2 or 3 pieces in a shop strategy, first of all, you'll spend more time waiting in line than eating and most of the attraction of those Tsukiji shops are the cheap sets, which is what people are queing up for. But second, it would be odd. I thought this was an entertaining discussion from a couple years ago on a similar strategy-

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Hi Silverjay, Scharn (and all),

                      Thanks for the warning on the Kaisendonburi places. If I may ask, is there any link / map properly showing where exactly Sushi Dai / Daiwa / Sushi Bun are at within Tsukiji?

                      And would you say it's even worth trying once? Thanks.

                      1. re: exilekiss

                        Here's a map of the immediate area - just zoom in all the way to see those three.

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          Here's a useful map of the restaurants/shops in Tsukiji's jonai (inside) area.
                          And the larger map:

                          I have enjoyed my kaisendons from Ooedo (大江戸). My usual has been the uni/ikura/negitoro (pictured on Gurunavi's link, the first one under the big photo listed under 当店のおすすめ). But uni and ikura on a donburi are kind of like comfort food for me, so the addition of negitoro just puts it over the top. And it's a bargain at 1350 yen.

                          Going to these Tsukiji eateries expecting mind-blowing stuff is ultimately going to be a setup for disappointment. These eateries were originally meant to be where the workers ate. While most everything is of high quality, the best stuff from the market goes to the highest bidders, and these Tsukiji shops are definitely not the high bidders. They are the ones who spot the good quality bargains and take advantage of having access to the market.

                          1. re: E Eto

                            Hi Robb S and E Eto,

                            Awesome! This is so helpful. (^_^)

                        2. re: Silverjay

                          So what exactly is the difference between kaisendon and chirashi (in Japan), other than the fact that chirashi probably involves a little bit more work, that the rice should be at least seasoned in chirashi, but not necessarily identical to sumeshi for nigiri sushi? I'm guessing Scharn was looking for something like chirashi (if done the way I think it is), and what Scharn got was probably closer to mixed raw seafood over regular rice (and poorly done cooked rice at that...)

                          Interesting that Atsushi Koseki's book only recommended uni and crab kaisendon at Nakaya (in his writeup) I suppose the reason being the best bang for the yen, at 1000 yen (that's 2007 prices). Also he writes that
                          that Nakaya started off as offering deep fried meats/seafood and grilled fish set meals. It wasn't that long ago that they re-invented themselves by offering kaisendon, and that's when their popularity shot up.

                          Regarding the sampling, yes 2 to 3 pieces is going to be strange. Do these sushi shops have a minimum order policy? If you want to gauge the strength of the restaurant, an easy way (but more expensive) is to plunk down the 2000 to 3000 yen and get their set combo nigiri menu (sometimes called manager's special, whether you get them altogether or one piece at a time it is made I am not sure). They probably vary ever so slightly inbetween another, but chances are you'll get many overlaps.

                          Assuming you take on the 3000 ish yen nigiri challenge comparison (that's the average cost, some may be higher or lower), perhaps you'll get something unique somewhere in those offerings at the shops, as based on reading the two books, Dai would have konbu marinated alfosino (kinmedai no konbu jime) (and a side dish optional of shirako). You go to a place like Iwasa and their higher end nigiri set is clams themed (if that's your bag). Further away at Kiraku, there's a shiromi (all white fish) themed nigiri set that they're very proud of. At Daiwa, you've got maybe a piece or two of toro (inclusive of negi toro maki) maybe more than the shop next door. Of course this all depends on the season and availability. Other than that, you'll likely get your uni, tamagoyaki, maguro, one silvery shiny fish or two, anago, shrimp. And oh yeah, some places do like 7 nigiri + one hosomaki, and others might do 10. Dai's highest end set offering seems to allow you to pick one of your choice at the end, if I am not mistaken.

                          I would definitely do more research into local blogs and the tabelogs.

                          For what it's worth I'm looking at a picture of ni-anago donburi (2000 yen) from Ankouya Takahashi (5-2-1 #8) and it looks very good, although their stewed fish dishes (upwards of 3000 yen) look even better...I want to say one of them is kinki nitsuke but the fish is translated for Taiwanese Chinese and they use a different naming convention sometimes.

                          1. re: K K

                            Chirashi is usually more of a balanced medley of items, including often tamagoyaki and sometimes vegetables. There's a little bit of regionality to what chirashi may be comprised of. Kaisendon is usually healthy portions of 1-4 items. Yeah, they are both pretty much the same thing. At most of the kaisendon places I've been to, you can order it with seasoned or plain rice. The simple name of the dish "kaisendon" kinda sounds a bit more blue collar, hearty portions.

                            No surprise the Nakaya changed their business model. Tsukiji has become a bonafide domestic and international tourist destination for raw fish dishes.

                            1. re: Silverjay

                              "No surprise the Nakaya changed their business model. Tsukiji has become a bonafide domestic and international tourist destination for raw fish dishes."

                              Yes. I only have been to the market a few times, but when I went to Sushi Dai or Sushi Daiwa I was blown away by their quality CONSIDERING THE PRICE. This was almost as good as some of the fine cuisine Sushi places I have been to, but cost maybe 15%. So I suspected something similar from the Donburi places.... but no.

                              I want to add that this donburi was in no way bad, it was actually quite good, but it wasn't exceptional. Only the slightly frozen tuna...that was odd. And the tourists were odd too. They just feel so out of place. (As do I, I have to assume.)

                              Anyways, now I am eying this:

                              1. re: Scharn

                                "Anyways, now I am eying this:"

                                Have fun schlepping out to Fuchu. You might as well go down to Numazu if you're so desperate. At least you can stop in Atami for a dip in an onsen.

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  If you do end up in Fuchu, my favorite Ramen Jiro shop is out there.

                                2. re: Scharn

                                  Sorry Scharn, now I feel bad generalizing that all the places make good domburi. E ETO is right, I guess because I had to go to Tsukiji for work I probably had different expectations. When I lived in Tokyo I had to be there in the morning a couple times a week, and I was extremely grateful that there was good quality food that I could eat in five minutes at 7 am. IMHO the selection and quality of domburi there are are much better than you can get walking through Shinjuku station or somewhere like that, so if it's on your way to work it is a godsend. Fortunately for me I was never served half frozen tuna. If it was raining I would often eat at Sushi Dai or Daiwa because there are no lines in the rain, and I think their food is great for the price. That said, I have mixed feelings about whether it's worth waiting in line at those places if it's not your first time to the market, and most good sushi bars in Tokyo serve a chirashi that's as good as most of the kaisen don there. But I still have to affirm, if you are running to work with five minutes to eat, and you have ¥1200 in your pocket, Tsukiji is not a bad place to be. These days I have to drop $7 at Starbucks for a crappy pastry and a coffee every morning instead.

                                  P.S. I do not recommend eating a few pieces of sushi and leaving any restaurant unless you absolutely have to eat at all these places in one day. They will think you left because you thought the food was bad.

                                  1. re: brandon g

                                    OK, so I should go there a few times and just get a omakase from a different shop, right? I will check what you guys posted later in detail =). Right now I have marked Sushi Dai, the two Daiwas (can somebody shed light on the difference between the 'southern' and the 'northern' Daiwa) and Bun. These are mentioned quite often, and supposedly good.

                                    I spend most of my time in Nagatacho and lately Shitamachi and I hope it doesn't sound too cruel, when I admit that I am happy not to see tourists, as I always feel very sorry to see them misbehave and fear that Japanese shops might extrapolate from their behavior. I know this is not a very nice thing to say, and I assume that I in say, India, would also ignore some of the etiquette, just because I wouln't know. So I don't blame them, I don't want to talk down, but in the end it annoys me a lot when the Sushi chef utters stuff like "SET MENU! SET MENU!!". From the Sushi chef's side this is warranted, he probably learned this the hard way. Still, I find it annoying. I would like to be treated in the same way as any other guest, and I would like to not be bothered by some slightly hung-over weirdo poking his kaisendon then swallowing a single ikura then getting high-fived by his friends for his dare.

                                    PS: At E Eto: Thanks for this map: Really useful! =)

                                    1. re: Scharn

                                      If you are talking about the two Daiwas on the map next to each other, they are connected. Unless they have another southern or northern location you're talking about somewhere that I'm not aware of? Daiwa sushi has a double space as indicated on the map, but it's just one restaurant with two counters, not two different restaurants. Between Dai and Daiwa, people debate which is better, but doing so to me is splitting hairs - they're both good and I choose the one with the shorter line. I've been to Sushi Dai without waiting when there's a big line at Daiwa and vice versa. I could never figure out why people would wait an hour to eat at one when there were only a couple people in line at the other. Lines are shorter on weekdays and on days with bad weather. Maybe you thought that eating a couple pieces of sushi at each was a reasonable idea, but if you don't know, like Silverjay said, this could take forever. Those lines can easily get over an hour. Look at the number of seats and then the number of people in line and you can get a feel for how long the wait is. Also consider that some of the fish vendors will pop in for sushi once in a while through the back door, and they don't wait. This doesn't happen a lot, but you'll notice if you're in the front of the line and you wait another twenty minutes because of it.

                                      LOL about the single ikura and the high five. And the "ginormous mess up, done by the book." Classic. Unfortunately that crap is going on 365 days a year, so even if you are there by yourself on your best behavior, those jackasses will still be causing more of their share of annoyances to the people who are just trying to get through a normal (hard) day's work. If I was in Japan I'd join you but unfortunately I'm not.

                                      1. re: brandon g

                                        OK, this idea is shelved then. Also, it would probably mess a lot with their system as they will want to sell as many of their "sets" as possible.

                                        Re the Daiwas, I mean these two which are directly next to each other, maybe 10 meters from Dai. I thought there must be a reason that it is two separate tiny shops next to each other instead of maybe a bigger one with a combined counter in the middle. Also it seems that one of them is run by an old guy, the other one by a young guy. Could be daddy+son, or graduated apprentice?

                                        Anyways these are twelve Sushiya in the market, anybody has been to one that is not Dai(wa) or Bun?

                                        Edit: I will put the list in a new thread so that I doesn't get lost here. Brandon et al! Please follow me :-)

                                        1. re: brandon g

                                          I have heard that Daiwa are rude to patrons, tend to rush you through the meal, and don't allow photography, whereas Dai speak better English, are nicer to patrons and happy for people to take photos.

                                          On the day that I went, (a weekday with bad weather), there was no line outside Daiwa and the line outside Dai extended to behind the corner. We went to a new sushi place at the end of Hall 6 instead, and it was also good.

                                          1. re: shallotpancake

                                            you would not believe what behavior I had to witness at the market, so honestly: I can understand Daiwa 100% if they are rude. Seriously: If you bring a DSLR the size of a small poodle in a shop the size of my bathroom, you're asking for it.

                                            also I wonder what the benefit is if they speak english: everyone is gonna order "Omakase" anyways and if you are interested in the fish you will know the japanese names.

                                            1. re: Scharn

                                              The service at Daiwa is definitely not as good as Sushi Dai from my experience and friend's. This is also relfected with their score at Tabelog. At Daiwa, the sushi chef just make the sushi like a machine and rush through the meal, whereas Sushi Dai is much more friendly. I think camera is not allowed at Daiwa even if you use your cellphone to shot. Quality at Dai is also better, the sushi they make at Daiwa is way too big. It definitely help if the chef can speaks better English because it is basically an area for tourist from all over the world.

                                              1. re: skylineR33

                                                the daiwas (in case you don't know: there are 2 next to each other) , dai and bun are all good. i took some pics of the sushi myself at daiwa, and nobody had a problem with it, it really depends on HOW you do. just take out a small camera, take pics of maybe 2 or 3 of the sushis you get, done. really no need to shoot every single piece and annoy the **** out of everybody.

                                                it's also worth noting that none of the tsukiji places do sushi "for the looks". these have been very humble places for the workers, traders, buyers at the market to get foods. so how the sushi looks was never a concern, and so they are less photogenic. now, it of course became a mayor tourist location.

                                                then, i still believe that a sushi omakase order at the market is perfectly fine with the chef not speaking a word of english, because the chef decides everything anyways. it's not like the japanese patrons talk much at the market either: they go in, say "omakase shimasu", then they silently munch their stuff, pay, leave.

                                                1. re: Scharn

                                                  I have been to all three of Dai, Daiwa and Bun, I think Dai is the best out of them.

                                                  Not really, at Daiwa, I saw a lady who was taking a picture with her cellphone but was noticed by one of the old waitress there, then the waitress just stopped her from taking picture in a rude way. Well, if you want to add a piece of this and that after the omakase (a lots of local do that), of course it helps if the chef knows English in such a touristy area.

                                                  Just use tabelog ( as a reference (which is a user-driven Japanese restaurants rating site in case you don't know), Daiwa does not get good service rating from there.

                                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                                    I went to Tsukiji for the first time a couple of weeks back. I got to Sushi Dai at 6:30 and waited for just over two and a half hours to get in. I had the time and had already travelled a bit just to get there, so I wasn't about to give up. Anyway, the sushi was great, the guys working there were super friendly and gracious when it came to cameras, as well as the language - and they all went the extra mile to ensure that people understood the names of the different pieces, whether it be in Japanese, English or Chinese. Today, I headed into Tsukiji again with some friends and found the line at Sushi Dai pretty much the same as it was when I got there last time - up and around the corner. Sushi Daiwa was pretty much free of a line, so we went there instead, rather than wait for another three hours. I thought the food was also very good (although a little 'production line' as mentioned before), however the little things which make Sushi Dai so attractive (very friendly service, language assistance and so on) aren't really present here. But for me, that's OK. The food was great, and, unlike some previous posters, I found that the camera thing was a non-issue - I asked (in Japanese) if it was OK for my friends to take some pictures and was told that it was fine. I think a little respect goes a long way when it comes to photos - just asking in Sushi Daiwa, for a start, probably gets you off on the right foot. Still, I'd have to agree that the vibe in Daiwa is a little less friendly than Dai - I kind of missed the friendly welcome I'd had in Sushi Dai. But having said that, I don't think that it's worth hanging out for two or three hours to get into Sushi Dai if Sushi Daiwa has a much shorter line. Incidentally, when I was in Sushi Dai the other day I heard that the majority of customers come from China these days - so I imagine that's indicative of the reputation it's getting in guidebooks and the like, which just means longer and longer lines, I guess...

                                                    1. re: tostada


                                                      How long do you think the wait will be for Sushi Dai if I get there around 5 - 5:30 AM on a ? I plan on visiting Tokyo in October and Sushi Dai is definitely on my to-go list, but I would hate to wait in line for 2.5 hours. I wonder if that wait is inevitable...

                                                      1. re: nelehelen

                                                        I believe that Sushi Dai opens at 5am, so if you got there around 5 - 5:30 you'd have a much shorter wait than me. I'd recommend getting a good map of the market *before* you head in, too, because the place is a bit of a maze if you start off on the wrong foot. I didn't have a map, and this cost me a good 15 to 20 minutes while I was walking around the wrong area trying to find Sushi Dai. This meant that I didn't get into line until 6:30. Also, I think it was the first week of the summer holidays, so there were probably more tourists than usual when I went - you might not have that issue in October. :D

                                                        1. re: tostada

                                                          Thanks! I meant to ask ".. on a FRIDAY," but I just noticed I left the day out. Haha. Thanks for the tip regarding the map!

                                                          1. re: nelehelen

                                                            No worries! Actually, when you mentioned Friday it reminded me of something - it's worth checking if the market is actually open on the day you want to go - you can see the calendar through the link on this website: (Looks like you're good for Fridays!)

                                                            1. re: tostada

                                                              Anyone been to Dontaku for the Tsukijidon?

                                                              This place was on Tokyo Eye the other day.

                                                              Would you guys say it is a waste of time waiting in a long line if one is going to say Mizutani or Sawada?

                                                              1. re: Foodnut8

                                                                For me personally it is not a waste of time. I enjoy my meal at Sushi Dai very much. It is a different experience from those michelin star establishment. But if you are in a tight schedule, you may want to reconsider that.