Monday, June 18, 2012

Delicious sushi at Tokyo's Tsukiji Market

In Tokyo for all of 36 hours a few days ago, I had the good fortune of being in the same city at the same time as my cousin-in-law. So, of course, we had to meet up. We certainly couldn't miss the opportunity. I was pressed for time and so was he, but we found that brunch would work. And since we were both craving for sushi, we headed for Tsukiji Market for a raw fish fix.

Of course we could have gone somewhere pretty nice -- the kind of places Manila foodies book months in advance when they decide to go to Tokyo. The main Sukiyabashi Jiro is pretty out of the question as there's a three-month waiting list for that, but we did stand a good chance of getting into its satellite restaurant in Roppongi Hills.


Then there's my favorite sushi restaurant Kyubey, where you don't need to reserve for lunch but you just need to go really early or really late. Kyubey also has a satellite restaurant at the New Otani Hotel and that's always a fall-back option for anyone who wants good sushi and who doesn't want to adjust times.


Another option is the ultra-fashionable Fukuzushi in Roppongi, which is a favorite of financial industry people and celebrities. If you're one of the chic people of Tokyo, this is actually the only sushi shop you'll head for and you'll certainly try to be a regular here. There's nothing so cool in this world as to walk into this sushi shop full of very cool people -- yes, like Manila, Tokyo is a metropolis but it's also a very small town, and lots of people know everyone else -- and to have the sushi master welcome you like a VIP.

I go to Fukuzushi sometimes but I really prefer Kyubey. But the few times I did go with a bunch of friends who fit into the "cool Tokyo" category, well, I can tell you that it did feel very nice indeed.


But for some reason, all we really wanted that morning was sushi at Tsukiji Market. So we decided to go to Sushizanmai, which is really a very successful sushi chain that's already pretty commercial. There's a Sushizanmai practically everywhere in Tokyo these days, and lots of the sushi served at these satelitte branches are frankly unsatisfactory. The kind of sushi you'd expect from a commercial shop.

But if you do take the time to go to the Sushizanmai in Tsukiji Market, it's pretty good and very reasonably priced. Compared to any of the places I've just mentioned above, a meal at Sushizanmai is shockingly reasonable.

We went to the main Sushizanmai first, but already there was a very long line at 11 AM. So instead we decided to try our luck at the Sushizanmai revolving sushi restaurant nearby as we stood a better chance of getting in there. So we were standing outside the restaurant waiting for our turn, and I was thinking: I have 36 hours in Tokyo and here I am at a revolving sushi counter restaurant.

I usually don't mind at all going to one of these, but not when I have only 36 hours in Tokyo. Anyway, on that day, that was the only choice we had if we wanted to have sushi in Tsukiji as everywhere else was completely full.


What a surprise. It was so good. I picked a bunch of plates to start and everything was literally scrumptious. My cousin-in-law had the oyster as well and he said that was excellent. I would have had it too, if only I hadn't had about four plates of aburi toro sushi, which is my absolute favorite in the entire world.

Perhaps the best part was the bill at the end. We'd eaten so much and still our bill was less than 5000 yen. It was the best news I'd had in a week.


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