“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”
An adage that travelers should keep in mind is that travels are made better when we try to culture soak and learn the traditions of the country we visit. Similarly, in Japan, the best way to understand how those delectable pieces of fish or seafood end up to your plate, is to explore the source of these under the sea delicacies.
Fish auction as a tourist attraction? Tsukiji Market, with its 80-year history of selling almost 2,000 tons of fish and seafood, would definitely be top of mind since it is known to be one of the world’s largest fish markets. Every morning, the sight of hustling auctioneers and buyers, along with the freshest catch of the day, are a sight to behold for tourists.
Tsukiji Market is basically divided into two sections: the inner market, where the tuna auction takes place, and the outer market adorned with various restaurants and stalls selling produce, meat, and even cooking utensils. When you go hungry after feasting your eyes with the goodies from the ocean, take refuge in various food stalls at this outer market. Surely, you’ll find a meal (or two) that will definitely fill your tank with awesome gastronomic delights. Here is the Tsukiji Fish Market food guide for making your Tokyo trip delicious.
Tsukiji Market does not only boast of its freshest marine catch, it also offers various epicurean wonders for the discerning palate. While professional fish and seafood buyers are busy with their trade and sales, tourist can busy themselves trying out the food offerings, whether in the inside or the outside (jogai) section of the Tsukiji Market.
Craving for the finest sushi in town? Sushi Zanmai, which has several locations in the Tsukiji Market, definitely tops the list of the must-try sushi spot in the market. The purple canopy surrounding the sushi place is certainly hard to miss. At Sushi Zanmai, your sushi craving is absolutely satisfied 24/7, 365-days a year. Sushi sets are priced between ¥2000 to ¥3000 or opt for a la carte sushi. Some of the Sushi Zanmai hits include ootoro (fatty tuna) sushi, unagi (eel) sushi, and ikura (fish roe) sushi.
Trivia: Sushi Zanmai claim to fame is winning almost annually the first tuna auction of the year. During this auction, prices of tuna are at skyrocket high.
There are also other famous sushi stops in Tsukiji Market such as Sushi Dai, with the chef’s special 10 nigiri course being the bestseller.
Breakfast ala Fishmongers.
Most of the early birds and the hard workers of Tsukiji Market are often found at Café Senri-ken, the home of the famous pork fillet sandwich. Each set (worth ¥1,100) is a smorgasbord of an energy-sustaining meal of soft-boiled egg swimming in a creamy soup, crisp-to-the-bite toasts, salad, served with your choice of coffee or tea. A sure way to power and energize your morning.
For those with whose palate is a bit more adventurous, the Horumon-don (¥850) of Kitsuneya is a dish that you shouldn’t miss. This rice bowl topped with leeks and organ meats cooked in rich miso-based sauce has been a go-to meal to most fishmongers (and tourist too). Best paired with soft-boiled egg for a more protein packed breakfast.
Soba Tsukiji Market style is also a must-try. Those who love to warm their tummies before or after their early morning grind can slurp a nice soba from Inoue. Their Chuka Soba is definitely a bestseller, with is chashu pork topped with negi leek and sprouts. Meanwhile, Choseian’s Tsuke Kakiage Seiro or cold noodles with warm dipping sauce and topped with kakiage tempura is sure to fill your tummies.
Tsukiji Market’s Street Eats
Tsukiji Market’s is not just a host of delectable goodies from the sea, it also has a collection of street treats local to the area. Takeshi’s Japanese Rolled Omelette or popularly known as Tamago (¥100) is a hit (talk about long queues) among tourists.
Also, who says that seafood can only be eaten in restaurants? Tsukiji Market has several stores offering easy-to-eat grilled seafood. Scallops, oysters, eel, sea urchin, cod sperm. Skewered or in shell. Name it and vendors will find a way to grill those for you.
For those who have a sudden dim sum craving, Suga Shoten serves steamed yumcha or dim sum like delicacies like meat buns and pork dumplings, are usually sold with tea.
Rice on the go treat is the specialty of Onigiri-ya Marutoyo, which serves onigiri in large size. These rice balls are filled with seafood delights such as mackerel, salted fish innards, oyster, octopus, and clams. The stall also serves shachi-ten or fried shrimp filled rice balls.
People with an appetite for something more exotic can march their way to Kujira no Tomisui for a bite of anything that’s whale. How about eating whale (kujira) sashimi? Or whale cutlets served in rice bowls? If you find the choices intimidating, then go for the classic fried kujira.
The Tsukiji neighborhood is a display of how commerce, culture, and the gifts of nature come hand in hand. Though the recent fire and the talks of moving the marketplace to a new location, regardless of the forthcoming changes, mornings at Tsukiji Market is truly a well-kept tradition that will constantly remain.
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.