Thursday, 23 May 2013

You can't start life in Japan without some sushi.....

Whether you love it or hate it you have to admit that sushi is the most representative dishes when it comes to the Japanese culture. I am not saying that it is the only traditional food by all means and one should give credit to other dishes like ramen, soba or tempura, but if you would ask anybody in the world to give you an example of a Japanese dish, they would very likely say ‘sushi’. Anyway, luckily I am a well and truly sushi lover and it is true what they say that you haven’t really tasted sushi until you’ve had it in Japan. Although you can find it pretty much everywhere and sushi-ya (restaurants) are spread everywhere, like mushrooms after the rain, they do not come cheap.
Especially good quality sushi.  However if you have a regular craving and your pocket doesn’t support a twice a week trip to a good restaurants, you can always visit your local kaiten sushi. To British people this would be quite a familiar concept as it works on the same principle as Yo! Sushi, aka a conveyor plate set up, but at a much lower price. There are a few places that have adapted to the current economic environment and serve 100 yen plates (around 73p at the current exchange rate) or others at a bit higher prices, but nonetheless still very affordable. Now if you really want to splurge there is no shortage of high end restaurants that only have 7-8 seats around a counter where the sushi chef prepares everything in front of you. But I would always highly recommend a trip to Tsukiji market instead. People who have previously heard about this place (the largest fresh fish market in the world) could be slightly put off by the well-known fact that you need to go there very very early in the morning. This is only true if you wish to see the tuna auction and for that you do need to be there at around 5:30 AM. I could never motivate myself to do it though, especially that places are limited and they allow people in on a first come first served bases. So I decided to go at a more humane hour and still see the end of the fish sales (around 10AM). After this I was very excited to go to one of the sushi restaurants at the side of the market, which came highly recommended on several websites. It is called Daiwa and I have to say it did not disappoint. Now on a regular day there is an approximate 30 min wait to get in, but it is soooo worth it. There is a limited number of seats and the place is quite crammed, but the friendliness of the chefs (who occasionally speak a bit of English) and the quality of the fish makes this one of the memorable experiences from Tokyo.  Again everything comes at a price and although not as expensive as a high end place, still expect to pay around £40 for one set menu plus a couple of additional pieces.  If all this puts you off however and you get very nervous by the fact that you might not understand the name of the fish and what exactly you are eating (of course salmon and tuna are easy to recognize, but from there on it’s anyone’s guess), I have gradually put together a list of fish names (and their English translations) that I have encountered in sushi-yas since I’ve been here:


maguro (まぐろ)= tuna
uni (うに)= sea urchin

toro (とろ)= fatty tuna

tai (たい) = red snapper

saba(さば) = mackrel

aji (あじ)= horse mackrel

tsubukai (つぶ貝) = grain shelfish

mirukai (みる貝) = horse clam

kani (かに) = crab

tako (たこ)= octopus

geso (げそ)= squid legs

ika (いか)= squid

iwashi (いわし)= sardines

hotate (ほたて)= scalop

anago (あなご)= sea eel

shako (しゃこ)= squilla

kohada (こはだ)= gizzard shad

kanbachi (かんばち)= amberjack

zuaigani (ずあいがに) = snow crab

awabi (あわび) = abaloni   

If none of this is doable though, you can still just go to the local shop, which will most likely have packed sushi, or if you are a little braver, then just get the packed sashimi. They are all simply DELICIOUS !

Till next time J x
 Our lovely platter attempt, created with bits and bobs purchased from the local shop
 Sushi box from the local shop
 Sushi platter at an all you can eat shop

 Plate of sea urchin sushi (one of my favorite) at a kaiten sushi-ya
Chef preparing sushi at a kaiten sushi-ya
The lovely chefs from Daiwa sushi-ya (Tsukiji Market)

#sushi #tsukijimarket #daiwa #japanesefish

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