There is an auction where hundreds of buyers gather to bid on, of all things, seafood. This happens before most of the city is awake, before the sun has risen. It is arguably the largest fish market in the world, providing everything from caviar to giant tuna, and apparently, controversially, whale. Thousands of tons of seafood are brought in daily to supply local restaurants, primarily the sushi restaurants. The Tsukiji fish market is one of the main reasons we went to Japan - to see, and then eat, possibly the best sushi in the world.
We arrive around 7 AM in Tsukiji, when much of the auctioning has already taken place. The market is divided into an inner market, where the seafood is processed and packaged, and the outer market - a mixture of vendors, restaurants, grocery stores etc.
The inner market is extremely busy, and if the Japanese weren't so polite, they'd probably tell us to get lost. I heard rumors that tourists were no longer allowed to enter these areas, or watch the auction, but this was apparently not the case. As long as you stay out of the way, you shouldn't have any problems.
A giant fish head is being prepared.
Large fish are easily halved by the saw. Dicey!
Much of the work is still manual labor, however. Some of the processing is very meticulous for certain species of fish. I saw one individual hand picking bones from an eel.
For a fish market, you'd think it would be overwhelmingly smelly, yet even for somebody with a very sensitive sense of smell, the market is surprisingly odorless. This is an indication of the freshness of the fish.
Giant fillets of fish are separated into different sections for different purposes and or recipes.
This scale has had plenty of usage, weighing out these bloody eel.
More behind the scenes of what looks like a horror movie! Gory!
The outer market prepares to open, and a line is already forming at the end of this alley at a small restaurant called "Sushi Dai".
Even at 8 in the morning, we waited over 2 hours to reach the front of the line at this highly rated Sushi bar.
We take a glimpse inside to see what the fuss is all about. A tiny restaurant that seats no more than 10-12 at a time, with 2-3 sushi chefs. The mirror to the left makes the area seem more spacious, until you actually get in there, and you are crammed shoulder to shoulder next to another hungry sushi-lover. Big bags have to be placed up above on the shelf behind you.
We take our seats and get prepared to eat whatever the master chef has to offer us for the day. This was our sushi chef, hard at work, meticulously preparing our first sample.
He sets the tone by starting us off with a melt-in-your-mouth piece of Tuna sushi, one of my favorites. You can see from the "marbling" on the fish this is the Toro, or fatty tuna variety.
The red snapper with its nice colored scale.
Buttery sweet Uni, or sea urchin sushi. Liquid gold.
Japanese Omelette, or Tamago. This has a slight sweetness to it, and in this case was served hot.
Marinated Tuna with a touch of wasabi. Our chef instructed us not to dip this one in soy sauce as it was tasty on its own. Indeed.
Clam so fresh it was still MOVING when we ate it.
Salmon Roe Sushi. Not fishy at all - little burst of saltiness.
My favorite - Mackerel.
Hamachi, or yellowtail fish. This was a MOUND of yellowtail. No sauce necessary as it is marinated.
Towards the end of our meal, you can choose any piece of your liking. One of the customers who was finishing up suggested we should ask for the chef's favorite, so we did. He presented us with this very unfamiliar sushi. We asked what it was, but he said "Please, try it". We looked at each other not sure what to expect, but we gulped it down, so as not to be rude. It was warm, salty, creamy, not half-bad. The marinade on top is slightly sweet, and the green onions adds some kick to it. We looked at our chef in approval and nodded. He then handed us a menu and pointed at an item listed as "Cod Sperm". Well, I think we should call it a meal at this point!
That afternoon, we wandered around the streets of Ginza, to do some shopping, but also to work off our breakfast.
We pass through a district known for electronic stores, video games, and anime (Japanese cartoons).
Sega is still alive.
The stores are endless, and is truly a nerd heaven. Many of the stores offer 5-10% duty free discount with a passport. If you are looking for camera stores, Bic Camera is the place to go. They have even top of the line, $7000 cameras just sitting there for you to play with.
This is what's on McDonald's menu.
After completing our shopping. Tracey gets to relive Paris again at her favorite bakery, Laduree.
We get a nice seat and unwind with some coffee and tea.
I ordered the raspberry tart, which was just fantastic. I don't even like sweets.
Tracey goes for this "Raspberry burger".
But the real reason to go to Laduree, is for the Macarons, a type of cookie-sandwich that comes in different colors and flavors. This was a big "eating" day, so I won't bore you with what we had for dinner that night, especially since we will be hitting up a Michelin star restaurant for our last day in Japan...