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Sep 24, 2011 02:10 AM

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

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

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  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. The original comment has been removed
        1. 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.