Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bucket list : Eat at Sushi Dai in Tsukiji Market Tokyo

Who/What is Sushi Dai

Sushi Dai is a famous sushi restaurant in Tsukiji . It is said that Master Dai is the poor man's Jiro. Although not as ancient in the sushi art nor as rigid as Jiro, Master Dai is in a class on his own with experience of more than 20 years. His restaurant is just a hole in the wall in the acclaimed Tsukiji market. The only way to know you will experience the freshest and best sushi is to get it from the source which is Tsukij.
Who is Jiro
Sushi hs been elevated to art form by the notable 87 year old master Chef , Jiro of the "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" fame.

The world-renowned Sukibayashi Jiro is just located in Ginza. However, the price of his omakase is nothing to be sneezed at... USD300 and it is said that he is already booked for the year. A blog says that Chef Jiro demands that you eat the sushi he creates for you within a few seconds of being served to guarantee freshness. So all in all you will only be in your stool for a total of 30 minutes.

Legend has it that he is stern-looking and does not engage in any playful bantering. Hmm mental note -- must watch the documentary stat.


The Task : Eat breakfast at Sushi Dai

Level of Difficulty : Very high

How to do it : Wake up then start queueing at 3am

Level of incredulity : The blogs I have read must have been exaggerated. Surely nobody wakes up at that ungodly hour to queue for 2-3 hours just to eat sushi breakfast...... do they ? Hmm.... we found out soon enough

What actually transpired :

1st attempt : May 5, 2015
Our first attempt for mission Sushi Dai was May 5 our anniversary. It would have been wonderful to have breakfast on this very important day. Alas, it was Golden Week so the whole wet market of Tsukiji was closed huhuhu

2nd attempt May 6
Woke up at 7am and started following google map to Sushi Dai. The good news - we found it Yay! The bad news -- the line was so loooong, it will take hours just to get in ! My heart sank. I thought there goes my dream to eat at Sushi Dai huhuhu

But towards the evening, handsome hubby said. We could give it another go on our last day. Yay!!!! Warned him though that we would have to wake up at 3 am.

His reaction -- "what? !!%#@? "

DDay May 8 about 18 C :
Woke up at 359 am here 259 am Manila time. To go or not to go.

My fear : I will look stupid. I will never hear the end of it from hubby if I woke him up at 4 am to walk 5 minutes to this place and find it deserted.

420 am - I am all dressed up and woke up the hubby --- grumpy, tired, achy handsome hubby....poor thing.

But I was merciless and unrelenting .This is our last day. By hook or by crook, we are going to eat at Sushi Dai or die !! haha

Walking from our hotel to Tsukiji market, I had spring in my step. The market was bustling and alive so early that morning. It was like a tight-rope-obstacle-course- combined-trek though, briskly traversing the sidewalk on foot.

Small delivery vehicles were coming left, right and center of us. We were in danger of being ran over at any time.

And then we saw the line......

What?!!!! I thought we would at least be in the first 20 or the first 12. Noooo! I counted the people ahead of us and we were number 40!!! These people were even crazier than us haha. Wow that felt good . They must have been here as early as 3 am !!

This gave me little comfort though when I saw hubby's face. Uh oh signal #1 fast approaching. I decided to turn my patience button on high. I recited the mantra " I will not be maldita today. I will be patient and sweet, We will make it to Sushi Dai or perish"

It was our last day in Tokyo. From Day 1 (May 4), we hit the ground running.  We  woke  up early and walked all day every day for 12 hours . We wasted no time. We went to Ginza, Asakusa, Roponggi, Shinjuku, Kabuchiko, Omatesando, Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, etc.

We rode the train like locals and in between, we walked, then ate , then rested then walked some more. We must have finished gallons of water chugging along as we walk .Then stuffed ourselves with all kinds of sushi, ramen, yakitori, wagyu beef and had  japanese ice cream in Family Mart and SunRUs  before we went home to our hotel.

We were exhausted. We ached everywhere and we lacked sleep.

But this was our last day and I had a mission. So I only felt excitement and joy at the prospect of finally experiencing Sushi Dai.

The hubby? well, he had no choice you see haha. Thus he was grumpy. Who wouldnt be at 4 in the morning.

We arrived at the line at 445 am no. 40. We got in at 7 am. Ooohhhh happy happy joy joy!!

Inside Sushi Dai :

12 stools only.
Master Dai in glasses.
2 sous chefs.
Less than 20 sq meters area

The food started arriving almost immediately as soon as we sat. I looked at our batch and it was mix and match group of locals and tourists..

We can order ala carte, omakase ( chef's choice 10 nigiri +1 personal choice 4000 JPY or P1200 more or less) or just regular (7 nigiri 2000 JPY or P600 more or less).

Hubby and I were initially confused. There was the problem in translation plus the lack of caffeine made understanding really slow hahaha. At any rate, I just wanted to start the experience so I said yes to omakase and hubby ordered ala carte.

We were given hot tea, miso soup and egg. Then the feast began....

Baby Octopus was so fresh it was still moving!

Oooh Yummy Fatty Toro

Japanese Scallop


Horse Mackerel and Salmon

Verdict :
We highly recommend the experience. Nothing quite like it. Undoubtedly, the best and freshest sushi we ever tasted.

Be ready for a 2-3 hour wait though . We will return most definitely with the piggery next time :)

As in all Japanese art, the key is perfection. The temperature of the rice, the freshness of the sushi, the ratio of the rice to fish, the dedication and preparation that goes with, all combine to achieve accuracy and excellence.

Bucket list  ... check :)

Originally posted on my old travel blog

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