Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market has always held mythical status for me and has sat high on my must-see list, mostly thanks to lots of sea-loving men who strongly influenced my life. As the world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market, handling over 2,000 tons of fish a day, my morning visit well exceeded my expectations and left me wondering how our seas were supporting this kind of consumption on a daily basis anyway. Are there still that many fish swimming around our oceans? And this was just one of Tokyo’s fish markets.
If you’re suffering from jet-lag or thrive on pre-dawn excursions, head on over to the market around 3 or 4 am to secure your place as an observer in the tuna action. Only 120 lucky tourists get a spot each day during two showings (5:25-5:50 and 5:50-6:15), so get your green tea to-go and wipe the sleep out of your eyes to guarantee a spot in this astonishing tuna slinging.
I strolled in at 9am (I was too busy watching the dozing diners at Jonathan’s) when the wholesale market floor officially opens to the public and spent hours wandering through the maze of tight isles, a gazillion beady fish eyes glaring up at me, trying hard not to eat it on the slippery floor or get hit by one of the hundreds of zippy “turret trucks” whizzing down the many corridors.
When your belly starts rumbling, find a spot at one of the numerous small sushi bars and counters on the outskirts of the sales floor. The problem, of course, is deciding which one to try. I settled on a locale with no English posted outside with a moderate line of non-touristy faces. The toro and hamachi were melt-in-my-mouth exquisite, as it was easily the very best sushi I’ve ever had.
I’m officially spoiled for life. Sushi at my fave cheap sushi counter in Berkeley will never quite taste the same.
Plans are underway for a brand new market in Toyosu due for completion in the spring of 2016. You still have a little under two years to get there and witness the real deal. Go on, hurry up.
It’s worth it. I promise.
THE PRODUCTS (AKA THE FISH)