Our first meal in Tokyo was at Sushi Mizutani. It was an experience (and a bill) to be reckoned with. Mizutani-San doesn’t speak English nor does he mess around (and he certainly doesn’t let you screw up the experience by pulling out a camera). He does deliver pristine sushi in an efficient no nonsense manner (though he did finally crack a smile when we thanked him in Japanese). The experience is incredible. Each piece of fish is expertly cut and delivered on just warm, perfectly seasoned rice. The experience in some ways is a revelation. I didn’t know uni could taste almost like sweet custard. And I realized I’ve wasted years thinking I don’t like mackerel. I’d only eaten abalone in stir fried preparations. Turns out it is delicious unadorned (but its liver is not for me).
The next morning we attempted to go to the auction at Tsukiji Fish Market. Even arriving by 4:18 am wasn’t enough to score us a seat sadly. So we wandered off to sooth our chapped feelings with what’s supposed to be amazing fish at Sushi Dai. The wait was about 2 hours.
It was cold. It was 5 something in the morning. No way was I waiting 2 hours to eat.
Enter Sushi Daiwa. Which I’m informed is just as good. It opens 30 minutes later at 5:30 but we were able to get in on the first seating. Turned out to be a great call. The fish was incredibly fresh. It wasn’t as expertly prepared (the o-toro was cold, though the chu-toro was perfect), the uni wasn’t life changing (though it was excellent), and the rice wasn’t as good. But for less than a quarter of the price of Mizutani this experience wins in my book. You’re crammed into a tiny sushi bar and the fish arrives as fast as you can eat it (or faster)! The sushi chef didn’t speak English here either but he was a jolly chap and I think amused by my efforts to name each piece in Japanese after he’d tell me the English name. Tsukiji isn’t an experience to be missed if you’re in Tokyo. And if you hate lines like I do, I suggest you mosey over to Sushi Daiwa around 4:45 am and get ready for a totally legit fishy encounter.