– Savouring Sushi at Tsukiji Market – Tokyo –
One of the highlight for me about Japan is while visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market. A big factor of it is that it is where I finally get to try the made before your eyes sushi platter prepared by experienced sushi artist. There are countless sushi shops in Tsukiji and when you ask the information centre which is best, they can’t give you an answer. Sushi Dai and Daiwa however are the clear winner in the popularity contest. Maybe it’s because we came a bit late (11:00AM), Sushi Daiwa can no longer accept guest – and other than that, the amount of people that are queuing for their turn has already wrapped the place.
I am no sushi expert so I don’t think I’ll notice much different in sushi – everything in the market looks good enough to serve on a 5 star restaurant to me.
You have to go inside the inner market to find these little sushi restaurants. Most of it has a really long queue. Each restaurant can only sit about no more than 20 guests perhaps. So literally you have to wait for the batch inside to finish their full-course meal for the next to step in and the next and the next. That would take hours, yes you’re right.
We don’t have hours so we head over to the one towards the corner. There are probably 5 guests before us, not too bad. This restaurant seems to have opening hours later than the rest. We were lucky that we are the next lot in! By that time and by the time we finishes, the line was much longer for this restaurant.
It was as expected; warm, welcoming, compact and intimate. The place is just enough for a straight row of seat with the wall behind us equipped with hooks and shelves to put our belongings and hang out coats (always so thoughtful). Before us is the sushi bar and two sushi chefs, each preparing sushi for not more than 10 guests.
It was very calm. Though there is sea of people outside, once you enter it was totally different. Not in the slightest bit the chefs seem to be overwhelmed or rushed by the crowd.
There are only 3 menus (English Menu Available)
- The Chef’s recommendation of sushi in season fish (10 pieces sushi and 1 tuna roll with a choice of 2 pieces of sushi)
- The Okame special Sushi (10 pieces of sushi and 1 tuna roll)
- The Okame Special rice bowl (bowl of rice topped with seasonal fish)
I ordered the first menu of The Chef’s recommendation of sushi in season fish. Since I don’t speak Japanese and or know much about sushi, I only ate what serves in front of me. The local guest orders their sushi at the end of the course by piece and they look divine – look like something I never see before, I don’t even know what they are.
Here, I learn two different ways to eat sushi – eat with chopstick or eat with your hands. After all, sushi artist made it by hand so the hand temperature is just right for sushi.
The sushi served here has already been seasoned with a little bit of wasabi underneath the fish and with just the right amount of soy sauce so all you need to do is savour.
The first piece served was the tamago (egg omelette) that’s been perfectly cut to a rectangle.
It was then followed by a highly appreciated piece of raw fish in Japan, Tuna.
Unless it is a fish I’m familiar with, I really cannot recall the name. I don’t usually eat raw fish but these are amazing. They have no fishy taste, they have a buttery and melt in your mouth sensation.
Then we had a scallop and prawn sushi, the first time I had a raw prawn. It was sweet and juicy. Everything tasted very fresh and well presented.
The Sardine has a fishy taste to it but you can wash it down with miso soup. You are also served with a great tasting miso soup to accompany the sushi.
The last two sushi before the tuna roll is the most memorable for me, the salmon egg sushi and sea urchin sushi. I usually hate these eggs because they are often fishy. The combination of these eggs (slightly salty), a mouthful of rice and crispy roasted seaweed turns out to be such a treat. I love how the seaweed is crisp and well roasted; it has beautiful flavour and texture which complements the salmon egg that burst in your mouth with no slight fishiness whatsoever.
And then the sushi I was most excited about, raw sea urchin sushi with a sprinkle of salt on top. This is the first time I ever had a sea urchin. The whole thing just melts and disappears in your mouth. It was awesome.
The last serving was a tuna roll made with very tasty roasted seaweed.
While it doesn’t look like much, the course is really filling and it takes about an hour to complete. It didn’t feel like an hour and you wish the sushi wouldn’t stop coming. In the beginning, I swallow my sushi as soon as they came out. Then I saw my surrounding and notice how some of the locals enjoy it. They close their eyes and really savour every bite. They then nod to each other in delight to express how delicious the food is. I then eat more slowly and try to savour them a bit more too.
I left the place feeling like my taste bud has been so spoiled and the amazing taste of the sushi lingers that I even refuse some free samples at the market (though the arrays of street food at Tsukiji are way too tempting that it didn’t take long for me to start munching again).
They serve you free green tea. A lot of people order beers too.
As expected from a Japanese service, it was flawless. Our sushi chef knows a bit of English and made us feel very welcomed. He tried his best to let us know what are serve in front of us.
Price for sushi serve in this manner would be at least 2000 yen. But after seeing the price of some other food afterwards, it really doesn’t feel that expensive. I think it worth every penny for the experience and quality.
- The Chef’s recommendation of sushi in season fish (10 pieces sushi and 1 tuna roll with a choice of 2 pieces of sushi) – 3600 Yen
- The Okame special Sushi (10 pieces of sushi and 1 tuna roll) – 2500 Yen
- The Okame Special rice bowl (bowl of rice topped with seasonal fish) – 3000 Yen
Overall and Returnability
Though we didn’t try the obviously most popular sushi place in the area or the Legendary Jiro Sushi, I didn’t feel like a missed out on anything in the slightest. In fact I’m glad we visited this restaurant as it saves us much time to explore other part of Tokyo and tsukiji rather than being stuck on a queue. For a quicker sushi experience without compromising quality and taste I’d recommend Okame in a heartbeat. The overall experience was amazing and I don’t mind to return to try this amazing looking slightly charred fatty tuna and the favourite chu-toro (fatty cut of tuna).
Tsukiji, Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture (Ginza / Tokyo Nihonbashi)