Japan: Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market: SushiAs you might expect visiting three square blocks of fresh fish, there's some life-changing sushi restaurants nearby. Even the trimmings of fish that fresh is something quite smooth.
Yoko sent me to a hole in the wall (a hole the wall in a wall with many holes in it). This one was distinguished, she said, by its high quality and low prices. It sounded like quite a good deal; I certainly didn't have anything better to go on.
I knew I was on to something good when I walked in the restaurant and first thing this man says to me is "How did you find out about this place?"
He turned out to be a travelling businessman from Hokkaido, who spoke english from time in Oregon decades ago. He was invaluable help ordering and figuring out what exactly I was eating. He was drinking beer, and the other two people eating were drinking beer, it was nine AM, it seemed like as good a time as any to drink beer.
I ordered a set meal, as Yoko had instructed. The sushi came, each placed without ceremony on a counter in front of me.
Sure the hamachi was pure butter texture and sublime flavor (hamachi, yellowtail tuna, its often the highlight of a month when I get to sink teeth into this kind of fish). But I learned to appreciate mackeral, and anago (fresh-water eel) - things I'd never wanted to taste or avoided taking pleasure in. Even squid tasted good, with a texture I could finally appreciate instead of the usual Goodyear-type eating experience! And things like Slipjack, I don't think I'd ever had, but here it was heaven. Conch shell, well, that was pretty Goodyear.
I noticed that after the one semi-english speaker left, I was mostly on my own. The place filled up, the people who came in weren't drinking beer and weren't talking to me. The people working at the restaurant let me sit there for twenty minutes without a glace. I pressed them for a second round of sushi, which I thought was in progress. I got more rolls, but it seemed the folks around me were receiving more exotic fare. I was content to enjoy the best sushi of my life, but after being served another round of cucumber, I had a request. Uni, sea urchin, was fantastic and light.
But the peak of the meal was doubtlessly the marbelled red tuna (probably Toro, "Fatty Tuna"). The steaks sat in a refrigerated case in front of me; I was able to admire the finely colored meat. I've cooked plenty of tuna and I've eaten sushi in San Francisco, New York and Sweden, but I've never seen tuna like this. Well, maybe I had just seen tuna like this.
This restaurant opens at 5am and closes at 2pm. By the time I left at 10.40am the windows were steamed up, and the morning rush hour was in full effect. Two rounds of sushi, around a dozen pieces each of bloody fresh fish, sidedishes, and a beer, for just over $40.
Click the picture, admire the white in red.