Tokyo, Day 2

Trafficat market
Prepare yourself, this was a seriously long day with a ridiculous amount of food.  We began the day at the fish market.  A must in Tokyo.  December is the only time you are not allowed into the tuna auction so instead of getting up to get there at 430am you can get there around 630am.  We took two cabs over to the fish market.  One dropped some of us in the right location, the other did not.  This appears to be standard fare in Tokyo.  I am not sure if the taxi drivers do not know exactly where they are supposed to go or they just don't care.  Emily and Fred ended up at the main entrance and the rest of us ended up in the back behind the wholesale fish market.  You are not supposed to go into that area until after 9am but nobody stopped us as we made our way to the other side.  

Huge fish
Controlled chaos is one way to describe the scene.  People are flying around on these yellow vehicles that move fast like golf carts but are like miniature crane lifters.  You could easily be taken out if one of these hit you. The first thing we saw when we walked into the wholesale building were these huge fish just hanging out on the floor.

We continued walking through the wholesale market until we got to the area we needed to be in.  I took a few pics en route. Clams.

Red Octopus.

The boxes that hold all the fish being broken down for the day.  They must come up with a better fabric for those fish.  This stuff sticks around for hundreds of years.

Daiwa sushi
We finally made our way to the other side and found Daiwa Sushi.  Fred and Emily were still missing.  It is not easy to find each other because all the signs are in Japanese.  Eventually we found each other and at this point the line at Daiwa was beyond long. But we did not come all the way to Tokyo not to eat here.  We found the place looking at a Google map photo of the Japanese letters and figured it out.  

Transport for restaurants
It was freezing outside and yes we waited in line for over two hours.  Suckers perhaps but a worthy experience.  We watched people come and go on their bikes getting their fish from the wholesale marketing, packing up their boxes and taking off.  

By the time we got in I am pretty sure you have never seen such happy people getting inside to get warm and just sit down.  Our chefs were charming.  There is a woman who basically runs the place and the line.  She has it down.  You have to tell her before you go inside which omikase you want, 8 pieces or 10.

First dish was a warm block of ginger scallion egg.  It was the perfect beginning for our breakfast.

Green tea to warm us up.

The chef started us off with a piece of ridiculously buttery toro.  Melted in our mouths.


Miso soup with a piece of fish that had been cooking for quite awhile to create the intensity of the broth. Honestly might have been the best miso soup I have ever had, hands down.

Red snapper.  Amazing.

Uni that just melted in your mouth.

Mackarel with a scallion mixture on top.

Gooey clam that is still alive.  The chef gave each clam a whack before putting it on the rice.  Strange but delicious.

Tuna that is simply divine.  

Pieces of tiny shrimp.

Tuna roll and cucumber crab roll.


Broiled eel.

Hamachi.  This piece of yellow tail was so damn good that I honestly did not want to swallow but just let the richness of the fish and taste linger in my mouth.  The experience is well worth it.  The pieces of fish are amazing, the chefs are characters and the whole place is unique.  

We walked around the market afterward before moving on to our next adventure.  Coffee was seriously in order.  Fred found this coffee shop in Shibuya.  The neighborhood is filled with narrow rambling streets with coffee shops and other stores.  

Omotesando Koffee is located inside a small wooden home and inside is a barista and a big machine. Really good coffee.

Besides coffee they also sold these custard squares.  Think French canelles Japanese style.  

Watari museum
Our next stop was the Watari Museum.  The museum is composed of four floors devoted to an exhibition. This is one of the pieces in the show.  

Before our next meal we strolled around the area.  This food truck was parked down an alleyway.

We dropped in this pen store.  What is interesting is in a country that is so futurist is also about tradition.  They still sell plenty of CD's as Tower Records is huge here and there is still an audience for a pen store.  It is interesting.

Our next stop was Tofuya Ukai Take located next to the Tokyo Tower (picture above).

This restaurant is seriously old school.  The waitstaff is women dressed as geishas.  An old rambling restaurant that is set among greenery.  Truly beautiful.  Each table is set in a tatami room.  Truth is there was something about our sushi breakfast that just made me so full that I had a hard time eating anything the rest of the day but regardless I was not a fan of the food here at all.  Just strange.  

I figure I will share the photos and menu for fun.  Boiled quail meat-balls with a pumpkin paste formed into a ball on the side.

Deep fried tofu with sweet miso sauce.

A few pieces of tuna

Simmered crab inside a fried tofu ball.

Salmon roe and pickled turnip, shrimp covered with crushed rice crackers and mushrooms with green vegetables.  

Tofu in a seasoned soy milk.

Steamed rice with pieces of sweet potato.

Sweet abzuki-beans soup.  

Going thru tokyo
After lunch we drove over to Opening Ceremony which is in the neighborhood.  The store is eight stories and each floor is meant to represent a different style of American architecture.  This picture gives you an idea what the streets look like.  The lights work so that you can walk through the middle of an intersection including corner to corner.  Kind of clever.

Opening ceremony
Here is a picture from inside the store.  When we were done we went back to the hotel but Jessica and I soldiered on.  Her camera was on the fritz so we decided to go to a store in Ginza and see about buying another one.  Finding the store, like the restaurants, was not easy.  We finally located it with a little help (asking) as we were there but did not realize it was on the 8th floor of a building.  The store was filled with new and used cameras.  She got an incredible bargain on a camera but the transaction with the people there who spoke zero English was truly an out of body experience.  






Comments (Archived):

  1. Cecelia Feld

    Joanne,Try taking the subway to some parts of Tokyo. The signs are in phonetic english (unlike years ago), so not too difficult if you know ahead of time where you are going. It’s sometimes faster than taking a cab. The people are usually helpful even if they don’t speak a lot of english. Also, for all of you, go to the “electronics” area. It’s amazing.

    1. Gotham Gal

      We are mxing it up. The taxis are not great. We have an english speaking driver which is working out great.

  2. CCjudy

    You are so generous to share this – what camera do you use for these photographs? What did Jessica buy for her camera?Judy

  3. JLM

    .Fabulous pics and the food looks very, very interesting..

  4. William Mougayar

    Wow. Amazing pictures and story telling. We’re getting a real education on Japan. You are gonna be really picky about eating Japanese food once back in New York.

  5. kirklove

    Fuck. You’re killing me. Now I have to go to Yasuda and somehow that will pale. I hope you are happy.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Yasuda ranks right up there. Trust me

  6. takingpitches

    Very cool. For me, working wholesale food markets are consistently one of the most memorable memories from trips. You see a lot of real life as well as things to be squeamish about! Crawford Market in Bombay and Kong Toey in Bangkok come to mind as well as Fulton closer to home back in the day.

  7. awaldstein

    A personal travelogue….Thanks for doing this!

  8. scottythebody

    I love Japan and Tokyo is amazing. It freaks me out how it is basically the biggest city in the world, yet somehow totally managed.I was very surprised for some reason at the lack of foreign language capability in the Japanese. For whatever reason, I thought they had aggressively embraced English for business reasons, but probably more so than anywhere I’ve travelled in Asia, it was difficult to find a lot of English speakers. Cool in a way, but definitely difficult.The taxis were funny. It was impossible for me to say my destinations even slightly close to a way they could understand, and my written locations (which I soon learned to bring along) almost always ended up in us getting pretty much lost. Tokyo is tough because the addresses don’t make any sense. But I loved the “no touch” doors. I want one of those taxis!Another thing that caught me by surprise was just how noisy everything was. All the stuff talks to you all the time (doors, bank machines, elevators, etc.).

    1. Gotham Gal

      There is definitely some Engmish translations on a few signs here and there Definitely technology is used everywhere here yet on the other hand very old school. Weird combo

  9. Rohan

    Hi Joanne, I happened to check this out today as I’ve been in Tokyo on work for 3 weeks and back again for another week. I’ve just had about 4 days (saturday + sunday combined) and thought I’d check your blog to see if there’s any place I’ve missed.I was smiling as I was reading the above post. I have pretty much identical pictures from 3 weeks ago – it was a great experience. (small correction – the place is called Sushi Dai. Daiwa Sushi is the other place. )Brought back a great memory. Thanks for sharing this!PS: I got to see the finals of the sumo tournament. it really was wild! The Japanese prime minister came to give the winning Yokozuna the cup and it took 2 people to lift it.. haha.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Sumo wrestling is one of the most amazing sports. We must go back to Japan, when it is warmer!

      1. Rohan

        It is pretty amazing. I haven’t gotten to consolidating all the photos and videos – when I do, I’ll make sure I share. 🙂