The first time I ever had sushi was in a banquet hall during my teenage years. While the date and location are fuzzy the memories that are the strongest from that night was being tricked into eating wasabi and disliking sushi. I knew that for my upcoming travel to Japan I needed to get over my dislike of sushi. While in LA I made it my mission to get conquer my aversion. After a couple rolls and sake bombs I finally started to get the hang of the sushi life. However nothing prepared me for eating sushi in Tokyo.
One of the best and most famous places to eat sushi in Tokyo is at the Tsukiji Fish Market. The market itself has been operating in this location since it was relocated after an earthquake in 1923. The market is separated into inner and outer sections. The famous fish auction takes place at the inner market and has very limited seating that requires you to arrive around 4 am, before the trains open, in order to snag a seat.
For those who just want to eat sushi breakfast feel free to show up around 9 or 10 and the outer market will be full of fresh fish and tourists meandering its tiny alleys. The first thing I realized when eating sushi in Tokyo is the absence of maki, which is the sushi rolls we are so accustomed to in the states. While they definitely are available the most common form of sushi you find is nigri, which is fish placed on top of sushi rice. I found that with nigri the flavor and texture of the fish really shine through.
Now don't be tempted by the long lines of some of the more famous sushi shops in Tsukiji. Every restaurant in the outer market gets its fish at the same time from the inner market so quality doesn't vary. I advise wandering the markets looking our for signs like this:
I found that the cheapest restaurants were in the back of the outer market near the shrine. Some places near the front charged more money for the exact same products in the back so evaluate carefully. After I found my location I ordered three different kinds of tuna over rice.
I wouldn't order too much because there's so much more to eat in this market than sushi. I suggest starting off with sushi and then finishing off your breakfast with one of these.
After getting your fill, wander around the market and see all the cool shops and stores. I found a wine bar tucked into the back section of the market along with stalls selling dried fish and strawberries and anything else you could want.
As I was exploring the market I found a Shinto shrine hidden in the back. It's a great place to sit down and take a rest away from all the frenzied tourists in the outer market. The Namiyoke Inari Shrine was built in 1657 and its name means "protection from waves."
Exploring the market and eating some of the freshest fish was a great way to start my morning. A stop here is a must for anyone visiting this amazing city.