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Sushi for breakfast: Eating the world’s freshest fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market

If you are seeking the freshest seafood on the planet, look no further than Sushi Dai, located at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Tsukiji is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, and pretty much everything caught in the area will be sold through here. This is the same fish that is eventually sold to restaurants across Tokyo, so the seafood is that fresh. sushi daisushi dai

Having it for breakfast is almost not an option, since it is usually a 2-3 hour wait in line to get into the 12-seat restaurant. We woke up at 3AM on a Friday to make sure that we would get into the fish auction, which is held every morning here at Tsukiji. They only let about two groups of 50 people each in to view the auction, so its better safe than sorry. Rows of frozen tuna will be first inspected for quality and size, and then for 20-30 minutes, each slab is auctioned off for thousands of dollars, before it gets portioned off and sent to the winning restaurants. My friends and I didn’t even hit the lineup for Sushi Dai until about 6AM, and I don’t think we got inside until 8:30-9AM.

sushi daisushi dai

The four of us all got the Chef’s choice. At 3900 yen (about $40 CAD at the time of this writing), you get 10 pieces of nigiri chosen by the chef, one roll, and one nigiri of your choice. It sounds like a lot of money for 12 pieces of sushi, but the entire meal is really filling, and the quality of the fish is completely worth it.

sushi dai

Everyone is seated right in front of the three chefs working. Not only are you entertained by the work of art that is created in front of you, but the chefs are humorous and engaging, chatting with every customer. They are definitely used to tourists. Each sushi is made one at a time: the chef makes it, places the single piece on your plate, and waits for you to finish before the next one is made. There is the standard fare, like fatty tuna and shrimp. And there is stuff that is just uncommon here in landlocked Alberta, like mackerel and sea urchin. If you’re wondering exactly how fresh some of this sushi is, well the clam is still moving when the chef places it on your plate. Back home in Alberta, squid at a sushi restaurant is usually tough and hard to chew. Here, your teeth slices right through like butter.

sushi daisushi daisushi dai

Was the 3 hour wait worth it? Definitely. But if I ever return to Tokyo, I don’t think I will do it again since there are plenty of restaurants at Tsukiji of almost equal quality. Maybe I am too impatient. If you already plan on visiting the fish auction, you might as well swing by Sushi Dai right after.

6 responses to “Sushi for breakfast: Eating the world’s freshest fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market

  1. Bernice June 19, 2013 at 09:08

    Oh man, I miss having a good variety of sushi..
    Is that a mackerel braid on the last photo?

    • kenter June 19, 2013 at 09:09

      It is!

  2. Pingback: Sushi and Miso Soup Breakfast at Tsukiji Market | Making Miso Tasty

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  4. S Lloyd October 14, 2013 at 10:35

    Any idea about how the sourcing of fish for sushi works in Japan? I keep hearing that now more and more of their red meats come from abroad (Australia, etc) and even saw couple of repors about some seafood following the same routes too, so wondering if they have their finest fish that still comes from Japan (i’d guess that most does) and if the top grade ones end up at their top flight sushiyas?

    • kenter October 15, 2013 at 08:29

      From what I understand, fish can be frozen for up to a week, and still be considered good sushi grade meat. So it is quite possible that something has been sourced from afar, and then brought into the fish market for auction. The inspector dudes check the quality of the fish as a full time job, so they are probably pretty detailed in how they rate the meat coming in.

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