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April 07, 2005
Japan: The freshest!
Filed in: Current Affairs, Good eats, Japan, Photography

Well, a wild ride for us on Wednesday in Tokyo.

We showed up at the Tokyo Fish Market - Tsukiji -(called "Tsiji" by the locals) early in the morning - OK, not that early - we weren't there for the auctions - just walked through.


This is what the main market looks like as we approached it.


But that really belies just how huge it is - this is the largest fish market in the world. If you know Pike's Place Market in Seattle - it is at least 100 times as large - I'm not kidding. The photo above shows the hundreds of building and dozens of acres that this market covers.


Anyone for pickled 'tako' (octopus)? One of the many delicacies at the market. Most startling about this market to me was that there is absolutely no fish smell - I know that's hard to believe, but it is most remarkable - the amount of time they spend cleaning and the preparation they do with their fish is their secret they say.


Cleaning live flounder.


Mmmmm, fresh clams!


'Glowing eka' (squid) - I've eaten these before but usually pickled - these are fresh little guys.


'Samuari' tuna knives - that thing is about 7 feet long that he's cleaning.


I didn't see any really big tuna hanging - but this was about a 150 pounder prepared for chopping into 'roast' size pieces. I have been casually aware that there are different parts of the tuna that are suited for different kinds of sushi quality - but I was really in for an education Wednesday.


Our host took us to a kind of obscure area around the market. There are hundreds of little sushi shops to one side of the market buildings - these are, for the most part, there to serve the workers in the market. Our host picked out one of these for us to go to.


Inside this place is about 20 feet long by 8 feet wide. 5 of the 8 feet is taken up by the sushi bar and the preparation area. It was tight! We stored our bags on a shelf above our heads - but we were sitting right under the shelf with our backs against the wall.


I don't know how to describe this sushi. It was the certainly the freshest that I've ever had in my life. If you are a sushi/sashimi fan this is nirvana. Our host ordered the 'chef's selection' - which just meant that the sushi chefs made us what they had bought the most of that morning and as much as they chose to serve us. The two chefs treated their work like an art - their motions as they prepared each piece were like a dance and they put great energy and heart into the preparation - of course we were nearly sitting in their pockets so we had a clear view of what they were doing. They served each piece on a big green leaf. In the picture above is some of the selections that they presented to us. On the far left is a kind of shrimp - boiled - and put on a pat of sticky rice with wasabi. Next to the shrimp is some rare kind of fish that I have never seen before and can't pronounce. It was nicely oily and tasted delicious. Next to that is some shell fish from something like a 'conch' shell. This had an almost crunchy texture - again extremely fresh and indescribable. Next to the shell fish is a short roll with a couple of those fresh glowing eka atop with some sauce spread over them. Despite these little guys kind of staring me down, they were marvelously tasty. You might think that their texture would be unappealing - but they were tender and so fresh ... mmmmmm. Next to the friendly glowing squid is a short roll with 'uni' (sea urchin) atop. I've had plenty of uni here in Japan - but nothing like this. It literally melted in my mouth. Fresh! Next to these is another leaf with much the same but with a piece of 'maguro' (tuna) mixed in.

They filled up our leaves with selections 4 times and then said "this is the last" as we forced down the last several bites. They served us several different maguro pieces - which varied from the very lean that you see in the right hand side of this picture to cuts with marbling in them to one particular piece near the end that looked like it was coated in butter. It was an extremely fatty piece from a certain part of a certain species of tuna - I can't name it - but it was nothing short of astounding to eat. They said that in the market it goes for about $300/kilo - a little less than $150 a pound.

In the picture you can also see a bowl of miso soup - that came along with the rest - but this was no ordinary miso - each bowl had about 30 little clams shells within - fresh and delicious. Fresh ginger was served as well.

About $35 a head for this 'chef selection' tapestry and I will certainly remember this meal for the rest of my life.

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» sashimi dreams from Knowledge Is Power:
I woke up this morning from a dream that I was eating sashimi and Udon noodles....I'll have to pick some up from the Asian market up the road today, they make 'em fresh. I also woke up to this, bastardo...rub it in why don't cha. Sounds dreamy, thanks... [Read More]

TrackPulled on Apr 7, 2005 9:35:05 AM

People Pulling

Must. Eat. Sushi.

Posted by: Ana at Jun 28, 2005 6:55:54 PM

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