HOME > Chowhound > Japan >


what is involved in visiting the main tokyo fish market to eat sushi there??

  • m

how do you get there?? where do you find the hole in the wall sushi places at the market?? are there english language tours of the market?? I believe the market is the largest wholesale fish market in the world

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You take a subway and walk from the station or you take a taxi. The popular hole in the wall places are Daiwa Sushi, Sushi Dai, and Sushi Bun. If you look them up, you will find maps. They are not hidden. Expect long lines...There are English tours run by independent operators. Do a search on this board as they have been discussed before. Google will probably give you more options.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      Is it still worth trying to get at 5 a.m. for the tuna auction?

      1. re: margieco

        The Tsukiji Market'auctions has restricted his access to buyers ; auction concerns maguro(=tuna), uni(=sea urchin), ebi(=prawn) and some of the white fish... if I am not mistaken.So it is better to subscribe to a tour organised by Tsukiji :
        The discussion to delocalize Tsukiji to Toyosu has been again on the topics !!
        This fight is not spreading.. perhaps foreigners voice are necessary also to show that this is an important sight of Tokyo !!

    2. To add to Silverjay's post, you can take either the Hibiya line subway to Tsukiji station or the Oedo line to Tsukijishijo. If you want to get there early to see the auction you will probably need to take a cab, unless you have access to bicycles. But in my opinion seeing the auction is not worth the trouble. You need to arrive well before 5:00, wait in line, and then, when you finally get to enter the auction area, you are restricted to a narrow aisle where, unless you are tall, you can't really see a whole lot. My advice would be to arrive at the market around 7:30 and take a look. If you want to get more out of it I recommend reading Ted Bestor's book on Tsukji. As for sushi shops, there are several in the outer (jogai) market area that are at least as good as the more famous shops closer to the main market area. And there won't be any long lines.

      1 Reply
      1. re: edozanmai

        Yeah, I enjoyed Bestor's book and also recommend it.

      2. Spent the winter in Tokyo in 2009-2010, Found myself two to three times a week at Tsukiji for the sushi. Saw the auction once before the major limitations a few years before and IMHO, no biggie. The sushi on the other hand, has ruined me for life, There is good sushi in many area of the world, then there is Japan, totally different categories. It is so awesome, l am trembling while l type. Do the sushi places, both in and out. Sushi Dai is great as is Daiwa sushi, but none were bad. Go a number of times and sample as many as you can, wonderful, wonderful. Go late enough so you can take the subway, works perfectly.

        1. To echo on what edozanmai said, I'd say it's good to arrive somewhere around 7:30 as well. When you get there you'll get a map from the security guard, and he can tell you where you need to go and where not to; there are specific areas (the commercial fish market) that are closed to interlopers until 9:00am, though you can catch a glimpse of the action from outside - just watch out for the electric carts zipping around - they'll run you over if you're not careful. Inside the compound there is an inner market where there are restaurants and vendors for some produce and such. That's one option for eating. Outside the compound there are a few blocks of side streets called the outer market, and this is where more retail business takes place. There are a few restaurants there too, and they tend to be less expensive.

          We went this morning and ended up eating sushi at the inner market. It was among the best sushi I've ever eaten, and definitely an experience worth having. I don't know the name of the place but there are about a dozen to choose from and if you go to a place that has a good sized crowd inside or a line, you'll probably do fine. The inner market prices seem to run about 300-1200 yen per piece, so it's pretty easy to run up a bill of 3000-5000 depending on your taste and appetite. Most of the restaurants have a sampler for about 3500, though I think ordering by the piece is the way to go.

          The outer markets seem to have lower prices - samplers for about 2000, though the ambiance isn't quite the same. If you're all about the food and not about the scene, the outer market also has fish by the pound, and you can pick up a couple of good sized chunks of fish and a fresh wasabi root and make your own sushi for probably half the price. We ended up getting some fish to go (to take to a friend's house for lunch later) and the only downside is that you need to know your fish well; one stand tried to get us to buy some lesser cuts of fish already packaged as a bundle for foreigners, I'd guess. If buying in chunks, look for stuff that is packaged and priced - that's the easiest way to go.

          7 Replies
          1. re: waetherman

            Are these restaurants open all day? What time do they close? 5 days in tokyo in mid-december, will hit up Tsukiji at least once. Looking forward to it. A bit apprehensive about how to sample the best of what I really want during the trip only speaking English but this forum will be helpful.

            edit: I have a question about eating in Tokyo in general....can I ask for 'omakase' at pretty much any restaurant, even if its not usually done at that type of place? For example if I go to some place that serves yakitori that doesn't normally do omakase (I don't know if they do or not, but lets say they don't)....will it be understood that I just want a good chef's selection of what their restaurant serves?

            1. re: szw

              I'm not sure - I get the sense from the guidebooks that the inner market shops are an early morning thing, but the outer shops might stay open later. The sushi shops are really for visiting tourists, and as such probably close up when the tourists stop coming, but the rest of the shops are for commercial consumers (restaurant suppliers, etc) and probably stay open a little later.

              1. re: waetherman

                Thanks! I think I will probably avoid the "famous 3" shops since I am really averse to lining up for anything over 20 minutes. I would probably just choose some other shop unless you guys think it really is worth it?

                1. re: szw

                  I can only speak for the one I went to - it was a couple doors down from the the one with the biggest line, the one at the end of the row that had the velvet ropes outside to contol the lines. The one we went to was about halfway down the same row, had a nice wood interior,with a long bench on the right side with seating for about 8 total. Really nice guy at the front, really great sushi and good recommendations. A Chinese family sitting next to us saiid they'd been coming to the same place every morning and they definitely knew their fish, so I think it's a good shop.

                  1. re: szw

                    It's worth it. What? You flew 13 hours to Tokyo to settle for second best? To get to a lot of worthwhile food in the city you may have to line up for more than 20 minutes depending on where you go. (but not much more usually) Trust me, you will be rewarded in most cases.

                    That said regarding Tsukiji and sushi I would try to hit at least one of the famous 3. If you're absolutely opposed to lining up and want to hit other spots in the market I would say that most of them are decent. I would stay away from Umai Sushi Kan as I feel personally that they're among the weakest. My personal favorite is the all shellfish Nigiri special at IwasaZushi but I really like shellfish. They also do a nice Uni/Ikura Don as well but ignore that as you're there for Nigiri sushi primarily.

                    I have a lot of luck going to Tsukiji on Tuesdays. I have never for some reason had to deal with long lines then. Longest I have ever waited on a Tuesday at Sushi Dai was 35 minutes. I wonder if it's because a lot of tourist groups arrive for the weekend and because of jetlag first on the itinerary is usually a trip to Tsukiji because it's easier to get up at 5am.

                    I could also be imagining things.

                    1. re: szw

                      Update: after doing a little research, it turns out I was at Daiwa. I guess I got lucky going in to one of the recommended ones by chance. And I guess I was lucky that there was no line at all as well - we walked right in on a Wednesday morning around 7:30 AM. Here's a pic (not mine) of the counter there - the chef on the far right was super-nice, and made ordering easy even without much Japanese:


                      I sympathize with the view that waiting is usually a waste of time, but some things are worth waiting for; not all sushi is equal, and there is a big difference between supermarket sushi and the stuff you'll get at Tsukiji. That said, there is probably significantly less difference between places in the inner market, or perhaps even outer market, as edozanmai said - after all, these places are all serving super fresh fish, and they know what they're doing. I guess I am a little more wary of just choosing any place though, after my experience in the outer market when one vendor was so pushy trying to sell us some lower quality cuts of fish.

                      One thing to keep in mind is that the long waits are probably depending on the season, and are probably a lot less these days because people are not visiting Japan much - between the high cost (really strong yen) and the whole Fukishima event, tourism is down significantly in Japan. So now is a good time to go, especially if you're not going to be there during a typical vacation time. I think it's probably going to be fine, but even if you have to wait a bit it's probably worth it.

                  2. re: szw

                    >can I ask for 'omakase' at pretty much any restaurant, even if its not usually done at that type of place?

                    Not really, no. But you can ask if they have any "ko-su menu", (i.e. prix-fixe menus), and then select by price - that's usually the easiest way.

                2. I always go to sushi bun, just because that is the place my wife's ojisan took me on my first trip.
                  Its great and the sampler is about 45,000. Its sentimental and something I do every time I go to Tokyo. I had one the best pieces I have ever had-shirauo (or was it shirasu?) that were alive just a few minutes before serving.

                  1. We just went on Friday . We got there before 5 am and got in line for the auction. They have limited availability each morning. A small group gets to go in at 5:25 (I think) and a second group follows. We were there in time to be in the middle of the first group.

                    We went straight from the auction to sushi daiwa (basically walking with storefront pictures on our iPhones until one matched one of our pictures). We were able to walk straight in (and there were 4 of us). We were allowed to take pictures. It's been one of my most favorite breakfasts while in Japan (so far)....

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: margieco

                      At 10:00 or 11:00 AM, i will run for a 'sushi brunch', a place I had not found yet !!! I agree Tsukiji Market is a nice, very interesting town in itself, and this is the topic of a magazine this month (=Tsukiji o kiwameru orTsukiji the gourmet market).... 
                      I rather prefer the master who will show some originality than the dull 'sushi Yoshino' 'sushi Yoshiki'. Sometimes I do lunch on places that can knock you off about quality/price,  but nothing compares to the master's way of nigiri, with his thick round ball and rough cuts... with very good pieces... I don't know if people can be interested in this kind of places ? 
                      @AdamD, the 'odorigui(=shirao or japanese icefish)' is translucid and usually swallowed as 'dancing'... not my thing !!! In sushi-maki, the 'shirasu(=90% are small sardines)' are in contrary eaten raw with shoga(=Ginger) and shirao whitened... And I am a bit concerned also about the real price lunch set, is it 4500.-yens ? For how many ?

                      1. re: Ninisix

                        Ah yes, the 10am "sushi brunch". That reminds me of the time I saw a Japanese hotel restaurant that was unclear on the concept of brunch, thinking it meant heavy pasta dishes at 10am rather than Eggs Benedict at 1pm.

                        1. re: Robb S

                          This question will probably get a lot of laughs, but, my husband really wants to experience the fish market and eat at Sushi Dai or Daiwa. I however, do not eat fish (dashi broth is ok). I want him to be able to have this experience...is there anything I can order on the menu that is not fish? Do they serve vegetable sushi at all?

                          1. re: lavendula

                            Not really, no. And since those places have something like ten counter seats and a two-hour line outside, I can't imagine they'd be happy to have you just sit there.

                            1. re: Robb S

                              That's what I was afraid of! Maybe he will have to go by himself ;(

                              1. re: lavendula

                                There are other types of hole in the wall restaurants right there. Maybe the curry place has something vegetarian, but you need to ask or read the menu. My buddies went to Tsukiji and one was veg and split off. He said the curry he ordered had meat in it or broth or something.

                          2. re: Robb S

                            That's not brunch, that's lreakfast.

                            1. re: waetherman

                              No one fancy in this kind of brunch ? 'Temaki', 'futomaki', 'bara-chirashi', 'tamago yaki', and throw in some fruits, green tea or coffee ? Actually Japanese do eat at no hour, so this should work for them. French are usually having their meals at fixed hours,  but on week ends, they can make exceptions. Still, it is difficult to cumulate breakfast and lunch. Heh, imagine to stay eating for couple of long hours !!!

                          3. re: Ninisix

                            They were translucent (clear) and served with ginger, but it was specifically decribed as Shira-U-O. Anyway, I mistyped, it is about 4500, not 45,000., and I think it was about 10 pieces and three pieces of negi-toro maki, with clam/miso soup at the end.
                            I usually order more though.

                            1. re: AdamD

                              Yeah "uo" means fish. I think it's just a tiny transliteration mistake. Also, she's confusing another dish, the "dancing" live ones (踊り食い) with what you had which was probably gunkan-maki.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                It was gunkan-maki, and they were not dancing, although I would try that too!

                                1. re: AdamD

                                  @lavanda... ''Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy''... love this song, I can't stop reminding it when thinking about Tsukiji. It is too bad to miss Tsukiji, so give a try to a sweet dango or a hot soup 'tamago zoni' made of katsuo soup stock with mochi and eggs (just ask him to remove the fish pate 'hanpen' and 'kamaboko').
                                  Near the sushi-yasan, on intermarket, the place name is Mosuke Dango : 

                                  @adamD, if you like this place, and are ready to try the 'odorigui (=dancing shirao)', it will give you some stature from the chef...

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    Isn't there a short season for that? I may be in Tokyo for the new year not sure yet.
                                    I will have my wife translate that site for me!
                                    I constantly crave the food in Japan. I am live near NYC, so I am lucky to have some very good spots close by. But its not really the same now is it?

                                    1. re: AdamD

                                      @AdamD, yes, good remark, the best season for shirao/shirasu is spring. But if you are coming in December and will go to the market  before eating at SushiBun, the only recommendation I can give you is  to look at what is readily available on the stands (December = hirame, buri, tako, bakagai, hokigai, amadai, kinmeidai)... as for maguro, this is the best season, you will have the best!