We wanted to visit THE Tsukiji Fish Market and see what the fuss is all about. We also went early enough around 7am to go around the inner market and have a look around. Most guide books recommended going earlier to queue at one of the popular sushi restaurants as part of the experience. First, we didn't really want to get up that early (coming from Shibuya) and queueing for 1 or 2 hours for a brisk sushi breakfast. I was also told that those sushi restaurants in the inner market, that since you're a gaijin (foreigners) you won't be able to order the sushi a la carte. This was a huge problem since my partner has his likes and dislikes and this could be a bit of a problem.
So after asking around in TA forum, we were advised to try some of the equally fantastic sushi restaurants on the outer market. We were recommended to go to Sushisay and found 2 branches a few minutes from each other on the same street. The one that we went to was Sushisay Honten and it was not due to open until 0830 which I thought was fantastic and great timing after our wee tour around the market.
We got there a little before 0830 and was surprised that they weren't open yet (considering other shops in the inner market had queues since 3am). So we walked around the outer markets and bought transparent umbrellas since it started raining. We walked past the second branch and thought it was odd that they have 2 shops within such proximity. When we returned there was a short queue of locals outside the restaurant as they were readying to open their doors. I thought the queue of locals was a good sign, as opposed to the long queues of foreigners in the inner market.
We were immediately seated and they swiftly put away our bags and covered our wet umbrellas in plastic bags. The place was not big but it wasn't tiny. I thought the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, there was no "hurrying" gesture like I was expecting. The very polite waitress gave us the english menu which had pictures and prices and we have never been so glad to see one. My partner ordered a beer (at 0830AM! But the locals were doing the same!) and I ordered a nice cup of green tea. The chef in front of us took our orders and his speedy hands danced away rolling the rice and fresh slabs of fish and gently laid them on our plates.
Now, I did some research on how to eat the "real" Japanese sushi. But I still made the biggest mistake when I was trying to take hold of the sushi with my chopsticks and accidentally ruined the rice when I couldn't turn the sushi over to dip the tuna onto the soy sauce. The rice went all over inside the soy sauce bowl and this was a big NO-NO!
The sushi chef noticed that and kindly swapped the soy sauce with a fresh one and replaced the ruined sushi, he then taught me how to properly eat a sushi with chopsticks. He told me (in Japanese and body language) to turn the sushi over to its side, and pick it up with the chopsticks with one stick by the rice and the other by the meat/tuna. Then dip the meat/tuna side onto the soy sauce a little before eating it. So I did and it was the most amazing sushi I have ever tasted. Completely different to what I have tasted in my home country. The rice was fluffy, moist and warm. The tuna was so soft and fresh and it could almost melt in your mouth. I tried the other funny sushi but was impressed with just about everything.
I don't really want to recommend this to other tourists fearing there would be a huge line of tourists the next time I go, but this place is truly a hidden gem. Try keeping this one to yourself.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.