By Peter Lin
When you go to Tokyo's fish market, you surely don’t just want to look at things, but you want to try the sushi coming directly from the market, right? Where else if not here?
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to get up at the crack of dawn to do so. My friends and I were a bit lazy that morning and didn’t get to the market before 11 AM. The main 'rush hour' at the market was definitely over; however, there was still more than enough to see and on top of that the atmosphere was quite relaxed.
Generally the shops around the market open at 5:30 AM, that’s when the wholesale market starts its business and the tuna auction takes place. So if you are ready for sushi that early in the morning, go for it. Otherwise, do it like us, choose any time before 2 PM. Before you go to the fish market however, make always sure to check the market's calendar on the Tsukiji website. Apart from being closed on Sundays, it's also closed on selected weekdays every month.
Sushi Yamazaki is one of those tiny sushi places—they usually seat not more than 10 people—right next to the wholesale area and we basically chose it because of the much shorter line of people waiting outside, compared to the neighboring places. The lines at the other shops were actually ridiculously long and we were figuring how much the taste could differ between the places considering they all get their fish directly from the market. Anyway, at Sushi Yamazaki we waited only for about 10 minutes and we were more than happy with our choice. In fact Sushi Yamazaki has 90 years experience in making sushi. They had run shops in other locations, and about 7 years ago they got lucky and found their place at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
The shop owners made us feel very welcome from the very beginning and the English menu was clear and easy to understand. Apart from the reasonably priced sets (from 2,100 yen), we were really happy to see that we could also order individual pieces, including tuna and cucumber rolls— perfect for sushi newbies or people like me who don’t like everything.
Every single bite was absolutely awesome and the fact that we could watch the chef making everything right in front of us made it feel like an event. While we were eating, a couple of obviously regular customers came in and ordered ‘o-makase’ (chef’s recommendation). The food got more creative at that point and the chef presented it like a piece of art—amazing. With every new item the chef explained his customers what kind of fish and other ingredients he was using; so obviously he wasn’t serving any generally known standards but his own creations.
Coming from Europe this was a completely new sushi experience for all of us. One of my friends who claimed not like fish at all had to admit that she really liked it. Welcome to the world of sushi!
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Travelling abroad to discover new places, getting to know different cultures and learning foreign languages has always been my passion. I was born and raised in Germany; however, for a few years now I've been very lucky to be able to spend my life abroad. I lived for some time in England and Italy before moving to Japan in October 2009. It took me a while to adapt to this very different world; however, travelling up and down the country has helped me to not only adapt, but to actually fall in love with this country Japan. It has also reawakened my interest in photography, so whenever I get a chance I pack my camera and discover something new. Japan is full of beautiful but less well-known places. To make these more discoverable for everybody, I'm very happy to be able to share my stories and photography on this site, and open a world of extraordinary experiences, which would be difficult to find in a guidebook. For any queries regarding Tokyo as a travel destination or any of my published articles, please feel free to contact me.