Tsukiji Market: Tokyo, Japan
We end our 3.75 day tour in Tokyo, and what better way to leave this country on a high but with the best sushi in the world. Now honestly, Jiro will seriously have to serve me some mouth-watering, slap-me-unconscious-with-the-first-bite, this-could-be-a-hashtag sushi because what I had was seriously too darn good.
We went to the infamous Tsukiji Market which actually was really easy to get from our hotel. Yes, I did stay in a hotel and no, it was not expensive. There are quite a number of “budget hotels” springing up in Japan, and it makes traveling there much more affordable. While small, these places are immaculately clean and honestly better than a lot of the motels that you would find in the United States. We stayed back near the Ueno JR station area, just a short 15-minute walk. However, our hotel was conveniently a 5-minute walk to the subway station. Tip: Japan Rail (JR) stations are different from the Tokyo subway lines. You can get a Japan railpass as a foreigner for either 7, 14, or 21 days. However, you can only purchase the voucher for transfer to obtain the actual ticket upon arriving in Japan at the airports. You cannot use this pass on the subway so be prepared with lots of yen-coins!
Tsukiji Market is only a 25-minute subway ride from our station. We did NOT go to the tuna bidding as you would a) have to wake up at the @ss crack of dawn (as in 2-3am) to stand in line by 330am. Only the first 125-150 people in line get to go in. To me, it was not worth it. Trains do not run that late at night (or early in the morning), and it is difficult to find a taxi cab. Most local tourists will actually book a hotel in the vicinity of the Tsukiji Market that is within walking distance. That makes it a lot easier to access in the wee hours of the morning.
There are so many side shops with tons of amazing food. It is also pretty cheap, but you must not expect a large amount of food. You get what you pay for in quantity. However, the quality is something to boast. We split a bowl of gyudon that was pretty famous. Apparently this one particular store was mentioned in several different travel books. (If I don’t have the picture uploaded here, I will by the end of August – being in transition between computers is really difficult but I will do what I can!)
Another thing that was fairly frequent were fishcakes. They sell them in all sorts of ways, but mostly always fried in some form or another. I do have a picture of fishcake that I bought with teeny tiny anchovies. It was really tasty!
The last thing that we tried was the tamago omelets, or the japanese egg omelets that they also use to serve in nigiri sushi. Slightly sweetened and cooked in a special sauce with mirin, bonito flakes broth, soy sauce, and sugar. At Tsukiji, they sell them as egg popsicles! Ok so they’re not cold but they are really tasty and only 100 yen each.
We DID get sushi. I know we said we did, and I didn’t lie. We went to a small (roughly 20-seater) kaiten sushi restaurant just about a five minute walk from the Ueno JR station. It was recommended by a lady that we had bought matcha tea from but I can’t remember the name of it right now. However it was so popular that you had to wait in line outside of the restaurant and you were only allowed inside as people depart.
Kaiten sushi is basically conveyer sushi. People sit at a counter that has a conveyer belt on top bringing different colored plates of nigiri sushi. Most of the time, you will not find rolls of any kind at this type of sushi joint. However, being a non-roll person, this was right up my alley. The different colored plates are different prices, some ranging as low as $2.00 to as high as $13.00. Momma Lim and I ate about 9 plates total with some pretty hefty-sized sushi! The fish was amazing. It not only melted in my mouth, but it was crazy abundant in amount. I think the fish to rice ration (out of 10) would be something like 7:3. I believe I did manage to keep a couple of pictures on my phone but if not, please check back! Our total bill came out to be only about $35! Winning!
I do love Japan. While I haven’t been to many other countries including Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and so forth, Japan always has a special place in my heart. I’d like to say it’s the food, but overall I think Japanese culture in general suits my personality well. My favorite Japanese restaurant owner back in the USA was correct: four days is just not enough.
Thank you for reading! This is the second to last post of the series for Japan. The next post will be on foods from Japanese convenience stores and then we will move to foods from Malaysia and Singapore. As we did not do much sight seeing there, it will be a super short series. However, given the most recent relocation to Baltimore for the year, there will definitely be new adventures here!
Cheers to travel!