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Japan 2016: Day 12

This article is a post I originally made on Facebook about our twelfth day in Japan which took place on April 14, 2016. On the 1 year anniversary of our trip to Japan I decided to repost it here on my blog. The original post has been edited/cleaned up a bit but its spirit remains.

Today was probably the busiest day of our trip.

One of the must see attractions on our list was the Tsukiji fish market. The plan was to try some sushi from one of the restaurants around the market, specifically a restaurant called Sushi Dai if possible. However, Sushi Dai opens at 5am and, according to the Internet, if you lined up at 3am you would only probably get served within the first hour.

Being the insane tourists that we are, we woke up at 4:30am, threw some clothes on and started walking to the market because apparently none of the subways opened until 5am. We arrived at Sushi Dai around 5:20am and were greeted with a line of approximately 70+ people. Sushi Dai only seats 12 people at a time and their omakase ("chef's choice") meal takes about 45 minutes to eat so if you do the math we were looking at a three hour wait minimum.

Three and a half hours later we finally sat down at Sushi Dai for our meal. I can say, without hyperbole, that it was the most delicious, well prepared sushi I had ever eaten. The meal itself was only ten pieces of nigiri with a miso soup side dish but by the end I was totally satiated. The care put into the seasoning and presentation of each piece was nothing short of perfection.

Our omakase consisted of:

  1. Otoro - Just melted in your mouth.
  2. Red Snapper - Very clean tasting. Went down smooth but had a nice crisp taste.
  3. Cutlass Fish - Looked really slimy but was perfectly proportioned with the rice so it tasted great too.
  4. Sea Urchin - Basically the same as the cutlass fish. Looked too chewy for my palette but the seasoning and the ratio to rice was spot on.
  5. Chūtoro - Best fucking piece of tuna I have ever eaten on this entire planet. End of discussion. I could die happy after eating this.
  6. Clam - I'm not really a molluscs person. It was too chewy for me.
  7. Tuna rolls - Solid tuna rolls. Ridiculously high quality shredded tuna.
  8. Tamago - A perfectly seasoned cube of scrambled eggs. I usually dislike tamago because most places fuck this dish up and make the eggs too bland. I had never thought tamago could be this flavourful.
  9. Horse Mackerel - Solid piece of sushi. Nothing special to write home about but more flavorful than most sushi I've had in San Francisco.
  10. Filefish - Same as the horse Mackerel.
  11. Sea Eel - The one dish I did not like. It and the rice instantly fell apart in my mouth and in this case the ratio of rice to fish was not high enough.
  12. Chūtoro encore - We got to pick our 10th piece of nigiri and each of us picked the chūtoro. It was simply heavenly.

The meal did take us about 45 minutes and cost ¥4000. For the price it was easily worth it (I gladly would have paid double or maybe even triple) but when you factor in the wait I am not sure it is worth it. There were a dozen other similar looking sushi restaurants right beside Sushi Dai and I assume they were all using the same high quality fish from the Tsukiji fish market. The only difference would be the skills of the chefs and since I have only eaten sushi from one place I cannot compare. If (sorry when) I come back to Tokyo I will definitely be going back to the fish market but not for Sushi Dai. I will give one of the other places a shot. If you are visiting Tokyo and want guaranteed spectacular sushi then prepare yourself for a four hour line and head to Sushi Dai. Otherwise I do not think you could go wrong picking one of the places around it where you would be seated inside 30 minutes.

One thing I forgot to mention was that from the time we woke up to the time we were seated it was pouring rain and that did not diminish the line outside Sushi Dai at all. It was as crazy as we had read about on the Internet. So don't think some bad weather is going to somehow work in your favor. If you want Sushi Dai you are going to just have to put in the time and wait in line.

With our bellies full of sushi we turned our attention to the actual fish market. It opens to the public after 9am when all of the serious business has been concluded. Tourists can then swarm the market and ruin all of the nice fisherman's days. I actually felt really bad taking up any space. I got shoved by some employees several times because I was inadvertently in their way.

By now it was almost 11am and we had already been up for almost seven hours. We headed back to the Airbnb to take a load off our feet through a watching of Rush Hour 2 before heading back out for our next excursion.

Elsie and I had popped into a couple arcades for a few hours here and there but today was the day we were going to set down some roots and play every game we wanted. Jarques and Tina also joined us for our trip to the 5th floor of Club Sega in Akihabara. There we found every single game that we were looking for: Luigi's Mansion, Taiko no Tatsujin, Chunithm, the table flipper, Mario Kart, Gunslinger Stratos, Monster Hunter Spirits and more. It was heaven. Elsie and I spent the next five hours playing anything we could get our hands on. Including one ill advised claw machine where after Jarques spent about ¥1500 trying to get a Dragonball Z figurine and failed, I then spent ¥3000 trying to get it for him as a surprise and failed as well. Yes I am not a smart man.

By now it was a little after 6pm and Elsie and I had reservations for the Capcom Bar in Shinjuku at 7pm. As massive Monster Hunter fans this was one of the must see places in Tokyo. It managed to live up to the hype not because of the food (which was solid as we have come to expect in Tokyo) but because of the presentation. Everything looked and felt like Capcom and the food and drink were no exception. We ordered four Monster Hunter themed drinks including some where we got to mix the alcohol ourselves. When we ordered the "well done steak" they actually played the cooking theme from Monster Hunter when they brought it out and made us sing along. It was, without a doubt, the most fun I had at a restaurant on this trip.

After dinner we wandered around Shinjuku a bit looking for any stores that may have the Bloodborne art book that Elsie wanted or the Dragon Quest Builder's PS Vita that I wanted. After having no luck at a few places we realized it was already 10pm and decided to head home. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Tokyo and we needed our rest to be able to make the most of it.