Tsukiji Fish Market with Breakfast at Iwasa Sushi (Day 3: Part I)

We spent the morning of our first actual day in Tokyo at the Tsukiji Fish Market.  Our initial plan was to check into our hotel room, take a quick 1-2 hour nap, and then catch a taxi to Tsukiji to see the live fish auction.   The difficulty with seeing the fish auction is that it is first come, first served and they only let the first 120 people in line see the auction, split between two shifts – one from 5:25 am- 5:50 am and the other from 5:50 am to 6:15 am.  While it was difficult to figure out exactly how early we would need to stand in line to assure a spot, several online sites suggested that people get in line an hour or more prior to the opening at 5:00 am! Thus, our original plan was to get there sometime between 3:30 am – 4:00 am to ensure that we got in.
DSC09565In the end, our plans were a little too ambitious.  We decided against the fish auction and let Connor get a few more hours of sleep.  Looking back, I think that skipping the auction was the right decision because forcing Connor to wait in line for several hours would have been a miserable experience and, since we left the hotel later, we were able to take a 15 minute metro ride on the Hibiya line instead of catching a taxi.
DSC09566We arrived at Tsukiji at around 6:30 am.  We walked through the outer market and stood in line for breakfast.  Before leaving on our trip, Ev did a lot of online research on sushi restaurants around the Tsukiji area and he decided on Iwasa Sushi.  It wasn’t one of those crazy sushi places where you wait in line for hours, but it had good quality sushi for a reasonable price.  We got to the restaurant early enough that our wait in line was only about 30 minutes.  Ev and I both ordered the omakase set, which came with about a dozen nigiri sushi and 6 pieces of tekka maki for 3,900 yen.
DSC09568The restaurant was small (14 seats) and so busy that I didn’t feel right stopping to take pictures of the sushi as it came out.  However, the picture on the menu (shown above) was a pretty good representation of what we were served.  It wasn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, but for the 3,900 yen price point, the quality of the fish was very good.  I also learned that Connor really loves ikura.  He ate the entire ikura nigiri sushi by himself.  Overall it was a perfect first meal to start our Japan adventure.
DSC09574After breakfast, we browsed the outer market, which consists of several blocks of retail shops that cater to tourists selling fruits, produce, ready to eat street food, and other Japanese goods (knives, ceramics, souvenirs, etc).  Ev bought these super juicy strawberries, which Connor loved and promptly devoured.  While the strawberries weren’t super sweet, they were definitely the juiciest strawberries I have ever eaten.  Connor had streaks of red strawberry juice dripping down his arms, chin and neck from eating the strawberries.  Thank goodness he was wearing a red shirt because if he was wearing a light colored shirt, we probably would have had to through the shirt away.
DSC09575At 9:00 am the inner market (the wholesale portion of Tsukiji) opened up to the public and we briefly walked around.  The only other fish market that I’ve ever been to is Pike’s Market in Seattle. Let’s just say that Tsukiji is nothing like Pike’s.  As one of the biggest fish markets in the world, Tsukiji has an enormous selection of seafood, fruits, and produce for sale and is very active.  There were people zipping around the narrow lanes of the inner market on forklifts, small trucks, scooters and other small vehicles the entire time we were there. DSC09580Although we tried to say out of the way as much as we could, I really felt like we were a nuisance to the vendors. The vendors must really hate all the tourists because we just get in the way and never buy anything.  With that said, I don’t blame them because I’d be pretty pissed too if someone came into my office and started taking pictures of me while I was trying to make a living.  I’m sure the vendors will be much happier when they move to their new location in November of this year.DSC09581In the end, even though we didn’t stay that long in the inner market, I am glad that I  got to see it in the soon-to-be “old location” before it moved.  Also, Connor really enjoyed looking and pointing to all the shellfish, eels, and fish.
Iwasa Sushi (http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm) – CASH ONLY
Open : Monday to Friday 6:00 am – 2:30 pm; Saturday 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
Closed : Sundays/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
Location: See website for map. It is the first building of the Outside market facing the inner market. Look for the bright orange curtain

Tsukiji Fish Market (http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm)
Open :     Outer market opens at 5:00 am,
Inner market opens to the public at 9:00 am
Closed:    Sunday/Japanese holidays/2nd and 4th Wednesdays
To attend auction: Meet at the Osakana Fukyu Center by the Kachidoki Gate before 5:00 am
Closest stations: Tsukiji Station (Hibiya line); Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Oedo line)

Happy Birthday Tyler

Last month we went to Rijo Restaurant for Ev’s Brother, Tyler’s birthday. I was a big fan of Rijo Restaurant for lunch (see review here), so I was really excited to try the restaurant’s dinner menu.

We started the meal with one of Rijo’s signature dishes, the Dungeness Crab Cake with Truffle Egg Tofu ($16). Unfortunately, the family devoured the dish before I had a chance to take a picture, so all I have is my 1/5 portion of the dish.  The dish came with two crab cakes on a bed of soft homemade tofu.  The dish was a little pricey but very tasty.

Next we shared the Crispy Tofu and Quinoa Salad ($10). Ev and I had this previously when we ate lunch here. We liked it so much that we ordered it again for dinner. It was just as good as the first time.

We also wanted to try one of Rijo’s sushi rolls and decided on the Scallop & “zuwai Kani” Dynamite maki sushi roll ($15), which had thinly sliced scallops, cucumber, avocado, and baked snow crab. There was also a roll with spicy tuna that looked good but Ev’s dad cannot eat spicy food so we decided on the Scallop one instead.
DSC04404For our entrees, Ev’s mom had the Two Way Saikyo Yaki Butterfish ($29), which was served in a fancy metal pot.

Ev’s dad had the Ribeye steak.


Ev had the ravioli.


Tyler and I both ordered the catch of the day, cooked in a steamed, asian-style preparation. The fish was prepared well, and wasn’t overcooked. .

Tyler got a free dessert because it was his birthday.  He ordered the Choclate Lava Cake with molten matcha Green Tea.


Ev’s mom ordered the cheesecake.

DSC04425Ev’s dad ordered the creme brulee
And Ev had a gelato sampler.


I was aparently so preoccupied with taking pictures of everyone else’s dessert, I forgot to take a picture of my own dessert, which was the panna cotta with some fresh fruit.  Once again, it was a nice meal with the family.