I’m usually not one for flying but I am looking forward to the flight back to Vancouver in that it will allow me ten glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep. Truth is, following a fitful post-sake night’s sleep followed by a late 3:00 a.m. turn-in the following night followed by an early 7:30 a.m. wake-up the next morning, I am exhausted. And all of the rich food hasn’t helped. But I’m on vacation, my trip is almost done, and I wanted to squeeze in as much as possible into those final days. Like…a trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market for breakfast.
Now, even though I’d had an excellent sushi dinner the night before at Sushi Tsubaki, and was scheduled to have lunch at Sushi Saito that day, I elected to go ahead and have a sushi breakfast anyway – just for the experience. My partner in degustation on this morning – none other than my fellow foodie and Tokyo traveler Stefan. Apparently, my buddy has grown weary of the communication gap between him and the locals and is now considering cutting short his planned six week stay and catching the next available flight home. While he’s enjoyed the food, he hasn’t been blown away by the offerings, especially given the price point. For his money, he’d choose Paris over Tokyo any day. His favorite meal here to date wasn’t at a posh restaurant at all but a simple ramen shop where he enjoyed a revelatory bowl of noodles. All the more reason for me to take a different approach the next time I’m in town: high-end dining for dinner and casual eats for lunch.
Well, live and learn. And, on this morning, we were eating plenty casual. I met Stefan at the Tsukiji subway stop and, from there, headed out to the market where we wandered about, looking for the sushi-ya he ate at days earlier. We found it and its equally popular neighbor looking mighty busy, with line-ups outside both. But, we noted, there were plenty of other lineless sushi-ya’s around. Could they be that much difference between them?
Apparently so as we soon discovered. We picked a place with long counter seating, about as deep as a city bus and half as wide. He ordered the tuna bowl (containing various types of sashimi) while I went with the tuna platter (containing various types of nigiri). In a word: meh. I mean, the tuna was fresh and very good, certainly better than you could find in any school bus-sized eatery in North America, but not a place I’d ever return to.
After breakfast, we wandered around the market for awhile looking for another one of Stefan’s knife shops. Yes, the guy is knife-obsessed, but more in an interested-chef-manner than, say, a serial-killer-kind-of-way. Twice, he stopped to ask the locals for directions. After the second time, I told him that he might want to consider changing his approach to his approach. “What do you mean?”he wanted to know. I told him that the Japanese are not big on touching in a social context and his manner of laying his big mitts on the shoulders of passing strangers to get their attention might be deemed…a little brusque. “Really?”he asked, genuinely mystified. “Well,”I said, “didn’t you notice the look of sheer terror on that guy’s face when you came up behind him like that?” Nope. “Okay, how about that woman who reacted by instinctively throwing her hands up to protect her face.” “Yeah,”he sheepishly replied. “I did notice that.” And then quickly: “But I can’t help it. I’m a toucher!”
Anyway, me and the toucher finally tracked down his knife shop where he picked up a big-ass shark skin wasabi grater in addition to some souvenirs of our unmemorable trip to Tsukiji…
Eventually, Stefan and I went our separate ways as he headed off to check out the Imperial Garden while I made a much shorter trip to take in the sights and sounds of The Pierre Marcolini Cafe before hopping into a cab and heading over to meet Jessica for lunch at Sushi Saito.
Yep, almost sushi’d out. Al-most. Still, lunch was excellent. Will provide pics and details on that, a Jessica-hosted macaron-off, dinner with Tomomi at Yamada Chikara, and my last lunch in Tokyo for the time being.