You might have read the news that the world-famous Tsukiji market was torn down to make its way for a multi-level carpark construction. The entire market operation has moved to Toyosu, which is about 15 minutes away from the previous location. Although the new location has a better facility and cleaner environment, it can't be compared to the 83-year old Tsukiji market that offers raw fish market experience.
Tsukiji has been the heartbeat of seafood trades for many years and everything it has left there are the results of its heyday. I visited the outer market 2 weeks ago and there are still some stalls operating as usual, even though the internal fish market is no longer there.
Here are some of the food stalls I tried at the outer Tsukiji market:
Despite having an empty stomach, I jump into the grapes and that is the first fruit stall I saw. One small cup cost ¥500 and has mixed red and green grapes. The red ones tasted very riped and you can almost taste the dry red wine aftertaste. And the green ones have a tangy sweetness. I could eat a hundred cups of these grapes. If you were to buy a bunch of these from Isetan, it would probably cost around RM300+. It was a good experience to try them out.
There are a few stalls that are selling Tamagoyaki (egg roll) in Tsukiji, but there is one stall that stands out among the rest. The Marutake tamagoyaki is a popular stall because the owner of the stall is actually a celebrity in Japan. The queue is always long. It cost only ¥100 per stick and it is served fresh and piping hot. It has a sweet taste, it doesn't taste like the usual tamagoyaki we have in sushi restaurants. It took me a few bites to register the taste in my head because I was expecting it to be a bit salty.
I needed my coffee, so the Yazawa Coffee stall appeared in front of me just in time when I needed a pick-me-up. They use the slow dripping method and all the beans are self-roasted from Ethiopian beans. This stall was featured in the Good Coffee blog, so it's worth a try. My cold milk coffee cost ¥600, which is the price of a Starbucks venti coffee. It isn't cheap in comparison to other stall-based coffee, but the silky smooth taste is all worth every penny.
Spotted some flame-torched hotate (scallop) and immediately I have to try it out. To be honest, I didn't enjoy it much because there are a lot of sands in the scallop. The scallop is huge, even though it doesn't look so in the photo. It took me a while to chew them into pieces and the random sand that pops up really annoyed me.
Most of the food we tried we from random stalls and they were finger food. We finally chose an unagi (eel) store to have a proper lunch. The store has a busy skewer business that sells unagi on skewers. The mixed bowl of unagi and rice is a perfect meal for a busy day. The unagi are freshly cooked and the portion is generous.
If you are a fan of inari sushi, you have to try the inari from Tsukiben stall. They have a few flavours to choose from and I picked the kani ikura (crab with fish roe). The topping is really generous and for ¥500 you will get a filling snack in hand.
There are a lot of stalls that sells premium beef like wagyu. You have to try it because it is cheaper to have it here than going to an actual restaurant. The mister doesn't eat beef due to his religion, so out of respect, I didn't eat any beef as well. If I ever go back there without him, I'll definitely give it a try.
What better place to have fresh oysters than Tsukiji itself? There are plenty of stalls that sell fresh oyster and they are really fresh. Some are just caught in the morning. Just dropping some tips on how to pick your best oysters - choose those oysters that long in shape, instead of those fat and round (just like how you choose a supermodel for a catwalk). The reason is that those fat and round ones have accumulated "dirt" and not safe to be eaten raw. Those oysters need to be cooked before consuming. I learn this from my boss when working in a Chinese restaurant when I was living in Australia. My boss has good knowledge in picking seafood, so I definitely trust him in this department.
Lastly, you have to try the Hokkaido crab. They usually boil it and you can eat it with the sauces that prepared by the stall owner. For ¥2000 for a quarter of the crab, the price is a steal. If you are a fan of crab you will love this a lot.
You can easily spend half a day at the Tsukiji market. Now that most of the stalls have located to Toyosu, the crowd is not as pack as before. But there are also a lot of stalls that moved to the new place. These are the remaining stalls left, which might relocate or maybe they're here to stay.
The market is still very touristy. After the fish market moved away, this place have lost its purpose and retained entirely for the tourist attraction it is famous for. Do expect to pay the tourist price as well. Our entire meal there cost about ¥10000 approximately. So it isn't that cheap. Do bring lots of cash because none of these stalls accept card. As a respect for the Japanese culture, you are not suppose to eat while walking. After you paid for your food, do stand beside the stall to finish your food. Also, bring some wet wipes and tissue paper, you will need that.