Sushi to Dai For

Warning: Reading may lead to instant cravings. Provocative and explicit photos included.

Having sushi at Tsukiji fish market is a Tokyo must for any sushi enthusiasts. There are two legendary sushi restaurants at Building 6 – Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi – both serving similar set menus. We went to Sushi Dai because they had more to offer at a slightly cheaper price.

sushi_dai_tsukiji_fish_market

From the moment an elderly Japanese woman in a little black apron handed me a purple umbrella to shield myself from the morning sun to the trio of sushi Chefs repeatedly bowing apologetically for us having to wait so long, G & I got the feeling we were in for a treat.

sushi_dai

So we waited. THREE and a half hours later (we couldn’t believe it either), we were ushered to the door and ultimately made it to the window. We and ten others in line were all too eager to be the next to enter the sliding doors we could hardly contain ourselves.

sushi_dai

So what exactly can you get for 3,900 Yen and a whole lot of patience? You’re about to find out.

warm_tamago_steamed_egg_omeletteHarold & warm tamago (hippo & steamed egg omelette)

Gerard opted for the ever so popular – trust the Chef or Omakase set while I stuck with the Jyou standard course. We start off with warm and fluffy tamago. Sweet and savory, it’s served hot and fresh right out of the steamer. It’s definitely not your ordinary, rectangular-shape tamago served over rice on sushi boats.

chu-toro & o-toro - Sushi DaiChu-toro (Semi fatty tuna), O-toro (fatty tuna belly)

O-toro, what I would imagine to be the grand finale to end an incredible meal, is served first here at Sushi Dai which set the tone for what was about to commence. 

Chu-toro is served only with my jyou (standard) course. It’s not as fatty and practically melted in my mouth.

hirame (flounder) - Sushi DaiHirame (flounder)

We couldn’t help but to think of The Little Mermaid. It’s not everyday you get to see flounder on a sushi menu.

kohada (gizzard shad) - Sushi DaiKohada (gizzard shad)

Can’t say I’ve ever had gizzard shad. Nor a fish in braids. But it certainly was pretty to look at.. and eat. Salty with a meaty texture.

tai (red snapper) - Sushi DaiTai (red snapper)

Who knew fresh red snapper could taste so spectacular?! Certainly caught Gerard by surprised and might even be his favorite of the meal.

uni (sea urchin) - Sushi Dai Uni (sea urchin)

I have a love hate (mostly love) relationship with uni. I love the deep sea taste but could do without the mushy, gooey bitterness finish. This one was unlike any uni I’ve had before. It’s slightly sweet with just the perfect hint of that ocean-y taste and a clean, buttery, silky finish.

kajiki (swordfish) - Sushi DaiKajiki (swordfish)

“No sauce,” our Chef politely reminds us not to dip our sushi in soy sauce because the fish is already marinated. And because when it’s sushi this good, adding soy sauce just seems wrong. For the first time, I was happy NOT to dunk my nigiri.

maguro-zuke (marinated tuna)Maguro-zuke (marinated tuna)

You can just see the freshness in the color – vibrant red, shiny from it’s marinade which gives it a somewhat sweet flavor. Not melt-in-your-mouth like o-toro, but it breaks off ever so gently at the touch of your lip – the texture is just incredible. 

ika (squid) - Sushi DaiIka (squid)

I’ve always liked the texture of clams and squids – firm, chewy and slimy.

akagai (red clam) - Sushi DaiAkagai (red clam)

“Still alive,” laughs our charismatic Chef. And sure enough it gave me a last wiggle before I chopstick the bad boy and swallowed it whole.

aji (horse mackerel) - Sushi DaiAji (horse mackerel)

Which Gerard was surprised to find out it was more fish than horse. It was still quite a meaty fish. Haha.

sushi roll - Sushi Dai Sushi roll

I think they serve this as a filler or maybe a palette cleanser, I’m not sure. But when you’ve had sushi this great so far, I didn’t want to spoil it with a sushi roll. However, something about fresh fish that changes everything. Simple and refreshing. 

shira-ebe (baby shrimp) - Sushi Dai Shira-ebe (baby shrimp)

Shrimp so tiny, it almost looks like there was nothing on the rice. I was expecting this to be a bit chewy but it was more slimy (in a good way) and so sweet. Not too shrimp-y in taste. 

tairagai (pen shell) - Sushi DaiTairagai (pen shell)

The texture and taste of tairagai is much like that of a scallop.

sawara (spanish mackerel) - Sushi DaiSawara (spanish mackerel)

I’ll be truly honest, I don’t remember the taste nor can I confirm if this is in fact, spanish mackerel. By this point, I was too high on sushi to care.

shima-aji (yellow jack) - Sushi DaiShima-aji (yellow jack)

Much like Gerard’s reaction to his red snapper, the yellow jack was my surprised fish of the day. I wouldn’t go as far as to say my favorite, but it definitely left a lasting impression.

anago (sea eel) - Sushi DaiAnago (sea eel)

It doesn’t have the same texture as unagi. It actually tasted a bit mushy. The eel sauce is a great finishing touch.

o-toro - Sushi DaiO-toro.. again! (fatty tuna)

For Gerard’s +1, we struggled between his surprised favorite red snapper and my love for uni. But in the end, since I didn’t get to try o-toro, just semi fatty tuna, Gerard let me have this one. I couldn’t think of a better way to end an extraordinary meal than to finish with what I started.

As if the food isn’t outstanding enough, the level of service is impeccable. Truly a warm and welcoming experience. I might have even shed a tear of joy in the end – my eyes are glistening.

Sushi DaiOur always smiling sushi Chef

I kid you not when I say, Sushi Dai is seriously to die for. This isn’t just any sushi lunch from the corner bar. It is the ultimate sushi experience for the early risers – our breakfast of champions. Raw fish does not get any fresher than this and I dare say, one visit and you will leave with a whole new perspective on sushi. This goes down as one of my favorite meals – not just in Japan, not just of this trip – ever.

What’s the best thing you ever ate – sushi?

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  • http://twitter.com/OverYonderlust Erica Kuschel

    OH GOD FATTY TUNA. I think I just died a little… of hunger.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Uh, me too! It wasn’t easy writing this post – even on a full stomach.

  • Audrey

    Wow, this is making me miss Japan all over again!! We weren’t able to wait in line for Dai Sushi, but did eat at two other places in the same row and all were incredible!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’m still experiencing Japan withdrawal, Audrey. Haha. I saw your panorama shot of the market – we didn’t have time to go there because we were in line here. :T

  • CaptainandClark

    I’m glad you put the warning at the beginning of the post. I’m starving now! Your sushi experience looked fantastic. I’m not a big sushi eater but you might have just converted me.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      That was all for you! LOL. I remember you ask for a warning the last time. 😉

  • http://twitter.com/jettingaround Jetting Around

    I love foodie adventures! As a vegetarian, I only eat vegetable maki rolls, but I’m quite addicted to wasabi. Nice pics.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      The yellow, pickle-y ones are my favorite veggie rolls. With lots of wasabi of course. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/georgieonthego George on the Go

    Oh my god you are so right that has left me dribbling. I never knew there were so many types of nigiri. Can’t wait to go to Japan now!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I can’t wait either! Take me with you. We’re seriously going through Japan withdrawal. And, practically any sushi restaurant is great – even the chain ones with the conveyor belt/ boat. You’re going to love it! 😉

  • http://lifethruamoka.com/ Barbylucedistelle

    Ahhhh!! I love sushi!!! I had the Anago when in Tokyo and was so delicious I could not stop eating it!!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’ve never had Anago before, mostly Unagi. The texture was a bit weird for me at first but the eel sauce totally made the sushi. Yum!

  • http://twitter.com/Ayngelina Ayngelina

    I adore sushi and really missed it in Latin America as I eat it in Toronto at least once a week but I have never seen the braided fish before.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      We’re the same. Although I think the weekly visits to our local sushi joint will never be quite the same once we return home. :T

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    I hate you both so much right now. Right, time to look for jobs in Japan….

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Hahaha. I thought the same when I left. First time on this trip I said to myself, “I can live here..” 🙂

      • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

        We can be expat budddiesss

  • http://twitter.com/lazytravelers Lazy Travelers

    ahhh this made us hungry AND it looks like you had amazing time. we love when you get guidance from the chef/waiters on what to order and how best to enjoy the food.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’ve had only great experiences when we opt to “trust the Chef” while dining out. It’s smart if you really think about it. And the tip to NOT dunk the sushi.. pure genius!

  • jenny_atasteoftravel

    What an amazing selection of sushi! It certainly looks as though it was worth the wait. I’m fascinated by the braided fish!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      The braided fish requires technical sushi master skills indeed!

  • http://twitter.com/L_e_a_h Leah Travels

    Let me tell you, I visited the Tsukiji Fish Market in December. I ate in one of those restaurants near all the stalls, and I had THE BEST SUSHI in my ENTIRE LIFE. No joke. I will go back just for the salmon. Every other salmon should die with shame that it’s not as good as it is there. I hate y’all right now knowing that you ate that sushi. I don’t care if it was one month ago, one week ago, or one day ago. I am so MAD (and prone to hyperbole).

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      That’s one thing I wondered about… They didn’t serve sake (salmon) here. But I got plenty of my salmon fix at other sushi joints. 🙂 And this meal was about a month and a half ago… So hopefully that’ll make you less mad!

  • http://twitter.com/ilivetotravel Raul

    Oh wow! Those all look so good!! The Maguro zuke looks great!! Now, I wouldnt remember all the names of the pieces and the fish they are – do they have something that lists it all in English? I really want to know what I like once I taste all those – or I could just print your writeup in color I suppose 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      They had a simple printout of their fish in English. So you’ll know exactly what you’re eating. 🙂

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Oh, this looks so good… I just ate dinner and already I am hungry again just because of these photos! Tsukiji is one of the things I’m most excited to experience while in Tokyo, in large part so that I can eat a sushi breakfast like this! Just out of curiosity, what time did you guys show up at Sushi Dai?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We were lazy and showed up around 8am. Thus the standard 3+ hour wait time. The place opens up at 5am. Even if you show up around 4:30am, there is usually a small line of maybe 15-20 people as party goers will line up after a long night of drinking and get some quality sushi after all that alcohol.

  • http://twitter.com/houseofannie Nate L

    You know it’s going to be good when they serve you toro first.

    OMG I would be totally swooning to go and eat there. I’m so sad I missed out on it when we were there. Must make a trip back.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We would go back to Japan in a second if we could! Only if it the prices were on par w/ the rest of Asia. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/LolaDiMarco Lauren DiMarco

    ok – #1 you two couldn’t be any cuter. i don’t really eat sushi but i think it is so dang pretty to look at. all of that does look delicious! PS – i love the title of the post 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Aww thanks, Lauren. They are pretty to look at huh? Lol.

  • http://twitter.com/TheWrldWanderer The World Wanderer

    This food seriously looks to Dai for! You even are making me look up flights for Japan as I write this! First off, I love the hospitality here – from the umbrella to the friendly chef – it seems like the service here is unmatched. And, then the pictures of the sushi! Wow! Looks incredible!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea, I was really impressed with the level of service especially being that busy. Definitely made the whole experience great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ruth-Rieckehoff/656105120 Ruth Rieckehoff

    I am not a huge sushi fan but my husband loves it. He will be the happiest man if he visits this place!!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      He’d be in sushi heaven! Hehe

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    Wait, what… it was STILL ALIVE and wiggled before you ate it?!? Now I like fresh fish, but that’s just too dang fresh for me!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I was afraid it’d give me a last wiggle in the belly but it didn’t. Lol. Delicious!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.figueroa.56 Ian Figueroa

    Glad both of you had an amazing sushi meal in Tsukiji. But wow, 3 and a half hours is a long time to wait. One of the folks that work in Tsukiji said that the reason Sushi Dai has such a long line is that it was featured in some guidebook, got good reviews, and caters to the traveler, Really that guy said any of the restaurants in Tsukiji without the long line are just as amazing, and he was shaking his head why people would wait in line for that long.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      A few others like sushi Daiwa and another one I can’t recall also had long lines but I think it’s also because we came at 8. Now that sushi Dai is out of the way, we will certainly try a smaller line when we return. Haha. Can’t wait!

  • http://twitter.com/mrsoaroundworld Ana Silva O’Reilly

    love love love sushi! i could get on a plane to japan, right now, and it would be your fault!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      We’d be happy to take the blame for that kind of trip. 🙂

  • http://www.travelrinserepeat.com/ John

    I’m pretty sure I was at this same sushi place…looks very familiar from when I was in Tsukiji a couple years ago. I had never heard of sushi for breakfast before I got to Tokyo, but it just made sense while at this market. Can’t say I’ve done it since though, haha.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Agreed. Hard to find sushi for breakfast outside of Japan. =P

  • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

    excellent, it’s like a menu. I ate sushi just outside this market too, and although many locals told me it is was not the best in town (they get the left over) I enjoyed my helpings… although I am not sure I ate this much when I visited at 5am, so kudos to you for that alone. great post.
    stay adventurous, craig

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Craig. We would’ve loved to find a better sushi joint… Only if we had more time! Safe to say we had sushi at least every other day while in Japan.

  • http://twitter.com/WorkMomTravels Francesca

    THREE AND A HALF HOURS?! You waited three and a half hours just to get in?? I mean, I like sushi and all, but…. 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Yeah.. We knew it sounded crazy. But we just had to experience the hype for ourselves. Luckily it was worth it. Or else our post would’ve been a lot different. hah

  • http://twitter.com/TravelBCouple TravelBudgetCouple

    Awwww yeah.. Sushi porn.. Love it.. Nice post.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks you guys! How’s life back home? 🙂

  • http://www.yomadic.com/ Nate Robert

    Holy crap, that was the most amazing sequence of sushi I have ever seen. Speechless.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Ha ha ha, thanks! I felt the same way too when eating it.

  • http://acoupletravelers.com/ acoupletravelers

    Wow sounds and looks absolutely amazing! We are starting our 2 year backpacking trip in Japan and I cannot wait to visit the fish market! I can’t believe you ended up waiting for 3.5 hours!!! Seems like it was well worth it in the end though! Will definitely have to check out Sushi Dai!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      You’re starting in Japan?! You’re never going to want to leave. 🙂 maybe you can brave the shorter line at 5am. Hehe

      • http://acoupletravelers.com/ acoupletravelers

        Seriously hoping for a shorter line! Not sure Dave would ever agree to wait for sushi for 3.5 hours (I’m definitely the foodie out of the two of us). Definitely getting very excited for all the sights and foods in Japan! So glad I found this post so I know exactly where to get for sushi at the fish market!

        • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

          Haha I don’t blame him. I hear any sushi restaurant in the market is really good. This just happens to be the popular one. Either go early or give one of the other ones a try and let us know how it turns out. 😉

  • idelish

    We miss this place SOOOOOOOO much! We waited for 2 hours. Even if it were 4 hours, I think we would’ve waited. We would travel to Japan just to dine at Sushi Dai all over again!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      OMG. So would we. And next time hopefully with a bigger wallet to dine at some of those Michelin star restaurants. =)

  • http://twitter.com/AI_FollowUs Anglo Italian

    Yummy!!!! Delicious to my eyes, can’t imagine how it was for your tummy, we love sushi! Hopefully we’ll make it to Tokyo during our RTW trip, so we must keep this place in mind! 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Oh I really hope you guys get the chance to go. It’s an incredible place. 🙂

  • avalonmel

    For my sushi breakfast at the fish market last month I went with a tuna plate. I can’t remember the name of the place but I was down to my last ¥2000 so I needed somewhere that took credit cards. The o-toro was hands down my favourite. There was one piece that was white in colour and firm that I didn’t care for. Not sure if it was a different type of tuna or just a different cut.

    Reading this post has me craving tuna now.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Could it be like squid or clam? I quite like the ones firm in texture but I’m totally with you on the o-toro. Ahh, I really miss sushi! They don’t do it like this back home for us. Thanks for trippin’ by!

  • http://wheresidewalksend.com/ Ian Ord

    “Still Alive” – that’s got to be the ultimate sushi line I’ve heard! Granted, I guess chucking oysters isn’t too far off 😉 I love the braided sushi. That’s awesome!

  • jenjenk

    Oh my gosh! i can’t believe you waited in line! i always just go to sushi daiwa but now I”m rethinking my stance…maybe I should give it a try, just to see the difference!!

  • Pingback: The Ultimate Tokyo Travel Guide for Food Lovers

  • http://expatedna.com/ Edna

    Going to Tokyo, finally, NEXT WEEK. I have been saving this post for nearly three years for this moment.

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