While planning our trip, I fretted a lot about what to do at Tsukiji Fish Market. This famous spot has gotten especially popular with foreign tourists in recent years and I wondered if it was really something worth going out of our way for. Ultimately I decided that I would enjoy the experience. If we were going to be crazy tourists and wait hours at sunrise for sushi, might as well commit fully and be able to say we’ve eaten at Sushi Dai!
I made sure to pick a hotel within walking distance since I’d heard it was best to get in line at Sushi Dai before the trains started running at 5am. We went our very first morning in Tokyo because I knew that 4am wake-up call wouldn’t hurt so badly if we were already dealing with jet lag and fresh enthusiasm. It was definitely the best decision. I can’t imagine standing around that long much further into our trip–my poor tired feet couldn’t have handled it.
Andrew and I took turns walking around, exploring the market and getting snacks while the other waited in line. Like many Japanese restaurants, Sushi Dai is very small and only offers counter seating for about 10 people at a time. You can estimate how long your wait will be by counting people in groups of 10 and assuming they’ll take about 30 minutes per group. Even after arriving around 5am, we waited until around 10-11am for our turn. We went during sakura season so our experience probably reflects some of the longest waits possible if you’re worried about your own trip.
The crowd was obviously mostly foreigners, but I was surprised to see as many Japanese folks as I did. One man was alone in a suit and I wondered what his deal was. Did he take a half day off work to go to Sushi Dai? Was he just dressing up? Very mysterious. Haha.
We each chose the 10 piece omakase menu for ¥4000, meaning the chefs selected the first 9 pieces and you get to pick your final piece. I remember getting otoro, red snapper, uni, surf clam, horse mackerel, anago, and baby shrimp. My favorite was hands-down the uni. I’ve never had such soft, flavorful uni that just melted in my mouth like that. I chose another piece for my 10th!
So was the long wait worth it? For us–yes. Would I do it again? Probably not. The sushi was great, especially for the price and the staff was wonderful. Very energetic, friendly and funny. I’m glad I had the experience. If we feel like braving the market again, we’ll try Sushi Daiwa next door. Many people prefer it to Sushi Dai and the wait is shorter.
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
5-2-1 Tsukiji, Tsukiji Fish Market 6th Bldg., Chuo 104-0045, Tokyo Prefecture