Tokyo Weekend: Sushi Dai Recap

Sushi Dai- located right in the Tsukiji Fish Market area, the long line of people queuing for one of the mere dozen seats is a testament to their quality and is an easy way to identify it among the rest of the restaurants along these rows literally just across the parking lot from the Fish Market.

Also, none of these places had English signs, so all I had to go off of was a picture of the front printed from my sister’s photo album and the line of people to mark X is the spot. I¬†wish I had printed out more photos so I could have shown the sushi chef their photos in retrospect. One of the things I definitely learned during my international trip is that I don’t know how I can go back to living without the internet- I always felt uninformed and craved¬†immediate access to information.

All the stool seats are right at the counter, with 3 sushi chefs working their magic directly from their expert nimble and quick hands to the raised counter you sit at (no plates!) with a quick verbal description in Japanese, Chinese, or English. It really is teeny tiny they have no other space- you have to put your belongings up on high shelves behind you like a school student because there is no place else- there is just enough room behind the stools for the lady to bring you soup. Once in a while a lady would come out to organize the line- some of us queue along a side street so as not to block the walkway, and then in front of the restaurant itself, in rows of 4 so that you get sorted into seatings as guests leave.

Everyone knows about the line and politely tries to turnover quickly so everyone can enjoy- there is a little chit chat as the chefs work but everyone is a foodie here and knows about the agonizing anticipation when in line, especially this day because it was winter and quite chilly.

Every group had 1-2 people with their cameras out like I did so I wasn’t embarrassed to pull mine out in front of the chefs either… and I’m so glad to have these photos to drool over and remember the experience.

After waiting in line for a couple hours (and that was after I got in line at 8:45am, a late start because I had to pack and check out, and I got lost… and then walked around for a while fascinated as I watched them wrap up business in the fish market), finally I made it in around 11am.

Starting with the warm towel and hot green tea… looking at the beautiful cuts of fish in the case on my right, and the shrimp on the left, the radish is ready on the raised counter… the exact sushi chefs that I had seen pictured in baby J’s pictures and in other internet sources.

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And then the fantastic lunch commenced (you can get a set or omakase chef’s choice, don’t be stupid, get the omakase). My Sushi Dai recap with photos is below but you can see toro, so beautiful and fresh, followed by flounder, snapper, sea urchin, mackerel, red clam (still moving a little he placed it down before us), warm sweet egg block, horse mackerel, translucent baby shrimp, traditional maki sushi (with the seaweed wrap), marinated tuna, steamed sea eel, and then my choice of anything for the last piece- which I went with fatty tuna.
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Look how beautiful each piece is, and how thick the cut is… Every generous piece was so soft, cool but not so cold that any flavor was locked in the temperature or texture, and each slice of seafood was long (2 to3 to 4 inches!). The photos are ordered in the same order I received them during my lunch.

Several of the pieces came with the instruction to not use soy sauce because they had pre-marinated it or added their touches of flavor via lime juice or a sprinkle of salt already in crafting the seafood upon the slightly warm rice. I only used my soy sauce for the traditional maki rolls. Oishi! I was sad that these were so delicious that all they melted in my mouth so fast and then in seemingly no time it was already time to go.

Little did I know that my life would soon suck as I find out that my flight is cancelled back home. At least though, I got to have Sushi Dai before that all broke loose. I thought I knew what fresh sushi tasted like- but this was freaking unbelievable.

That’s it for my world tour through Israel, Germany, China (Shenzhen) and Japan (Tokyo). Next stop- after a few days to try to readjust to the time, to Seattle for a quick overnight and workday.

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