I’ve been to to Tsukiji Market numerous times but this was the first time I finally made it into the jounai (inside market). A few months ago I attempted to get a ticket for the tuna auction but those were gone by the time I arrived at 4:45am. I didn’t think it would be worth it to wake up even earlier for this (plus I’ve heard that they hate tourists observing the auction) so we just worked our way to the market at around 7:30am.
My uncle grew up in Tokyo and has been to Tsukiji a lot. He always would tell me to stay away from the sushi and go eat what the workers eat- the youshoku (Japanesified Western food like fried oysters, curry etc.) because those are the best meals you can find there. But since it was my boyfriend’s first time in Japan, I felt an obligation to bring him to eat some sashimi for breakfast. The truth is that you don’t necessarily get the best stuff at Tsukiji, but it’s a great excuse to eat sashimi, sushi or kaisen donburi.
We went to a place called Takahashi because I had read great things about it on Japanese review sites. Not surprisingly, all the tourists were lining up for Sushi Dai. I think I went there many years ago and I remember it being expensive more than anything else. People were sitting down and they probably waited for 30 minutes to an hour to eat sushi there. Takahashi, on the otherhand, was full with regular customers, but there was no line outside. This place is famous for its anago no yawarakani (braised conger eel) and braised kinmedai, but we ordered the sashimi teishoku (great value- an assortment of sashimi served with an appetizer, rice and miso soup) and seared hatsu-gatsuo teishoku (first bonito/katsuo of the year). You can order the belly or back, and I of course chose the belly! Though not cheap for a breakfast, it was still worth what we paid (around 2000 yen each) and we enjoyed it very much.
After breakfast we walked around the jougai (outside market), which I had seen many times already. We also had coffee at a great little coffee shop called 喫茶ボン(Kissa Bon), run by an old couple. I came here when I visited back in March and really liked the cosy atmosphere.
After 9am we headed over to the jounai, because apparently if you go before 9am, it’s mostly professionals shopping around and you will just get in their way. And you should really respect their space because they are working! Yes, I’m sure you will see cooler stuff, but if I were there shopping for my ingredients it would be really annoying to have to dodge tourists trying to take photos. Even after 9am I felt like I was in the way, nevertheless I’m happy that I made it in there and saw how huge and extensive the jounai is. It really made me think how lucky some chefs are to be able to choose their ingredients at Tsukiji Market. Any chef should be inspired if they can shop here! And like all my other friends pointed out while they were in Japan, my boyfriend commented that it doesn’t smell fishy at all.