Tsukiji Market Toritoh 鳥藤

Tsukiji Toritoh

Tsukiji Market Toritoh

While many people coming to Tsukiji Market are dining on raw fish for breakfast I usually beeline it to the non-sushi and donburi restaurants as I get enough of it at home. Toritoh is a chicken retail shop that also has a restaurant around the corner from the main shop. The restaurant’s signature dish is oyakodonburi, a mixture of soft scrambled eggs and chicken, called parent and child.

This day I had asked for the yakitori donburi but was told that the retail shop didn’t send any yakitori over so the restaurant would not be serving it for the whole day. I then ordered this donburi that is topped with ground chicken seasoned with a sweet soy sauce and ginger, teriyaki chicken, liver, gizzard, and egg yolk. Chicken broth is served in a tea cup which is done at many yakitori restaurants in the city.

I did ask for a smaller serving of rice (gohan o sukuname o kudasai) and am glad I did as this smaller portion was just the right size.

Toritoh is often busy but on this rainy day I lucked out.

Highly recommended and I will be back for this dish.

For more details on the restaurant, see this earlier post on Toritoh.

Toritoh 鳥藤

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-8-6 中央区築地4-8-6

03-3543-6525

7:30 – 14:30

Tsukiji Market’s Take no Shokudo 多け乃食堂

Take no Shokudo - yaki kamasu

Grilled barracuda at Take no Shokudo

It is said that there are 500 shops and restaurants at Tsukiji Market’s outer market. Finding a particular one can be a challenge. A friend had told me that I had to check out Take no Shokudo. “It is just down one of those narrow streets just before the stoplight”, he had advised. Problem is that there are three narrow streets. We snaked our way up and down and were relieved to find it, just as our search was coming to an end. The noren, cloth banner that marks the entrance, was pushed together so the kanji was hard to decipher, but we had arrived.

Sliding open the door we asked if there were seats available. The three tables were full but we could be seated at the counter, which we preferred so we could look into the open kitchen. A cutting board was filled with boiled potatoes, which was made into potato salad, a classic izakaya side dish.

The lunch menu included tuna sashimi, seafood fried as tempura or breaded with panko and deep-fried, called “furai” in japanese, grilled fish and arani, simmered fish heads. We asked what fish they recommended for grilling and were advised either the collar of salmon which was very fatty, or kamasu, barracuda. I ordered the kamasu (1,100 JPY) and was surprised at how bit it was. It comes with some grated daikon. Pour some soy sauce onto the daikon and eat with the grilled fish. Great garnish to the simple dish.

Takeno Shokudo - arani

Fish heads simmered in soy at Take no Shokudo

Shinji, the fishmonger, ordered the arani (1,300 JPY), which was four different types of fish heads simmered in an intense sweet soy broth. The fish heads included salmon, yellowtail, and two smaller fish. Eating this dish requires dexterity with your chopsticks and lots of sucking bits and pieces from the bones. Diners must also be very careful as there are many small bones in the dish so eat with caution.

Take no Shokudo menu

Take no Shokudo menu

The meals were rounded out with a small dish of pickled cabbage and carrots, rice, and miso soup made with clams. I hear this spot is a great spot for drinking at night as there are many small plates to be ordered, mostly made with Tsukiji seafood. A shokudō is a cafeteria and often serves up home-style dishes. The walls of the shop are lined with signs listing many seafood dishes. It would be great fun to carefully peruse the selections over a beer and order dish after dish. In order to survive in a restaurant like this you not only need to be able to read Japanese, you need to know about a wide variety of seasonal Japanese seafood. Oh the fun. :-)

Absolutely no English here, so come with a Japanese speaker. Take no Shokudo is not open for breakfast, just lunch and dinner.

Take no Shokudo

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 6-21-2

Deep-Fried Oysters at Tsukiji Market’s Odayasu

Deep-fried oysters at Tsukiji Odayasu

Deep-fried oysters at Tsukiji Odayasu

“Where is your oldest son?”, queried the waitress to the fishmonger at the next table. “He is back at the shop following up on some last-minute orders”, said the older man in rubber knee-high boots. While tourists line up at sushi restaurants next door, my favorite spots at Tsukiji Market are where the fishmongers go. Odayasu is one of these shops. I am the only non-Tsukiji worker. It’s obvious as everyone else is wearing the fishmonger’s outfit of dark blue pants and a vest covered with pockets.

The deep-fried oysters are a popular dish at Odayasu. Six juicy oysters breaded in panko and deep-fried until golden brown. The classic accompaniment is julienned cabbage and tartar sauce. I asked for a small serving of rice as the usual portion would be too much.

Odayasu is a tonkatsu restaurant, so many of items are breaded and deep-fried. The menu also includes seafood meuniere, sashimi, and salmon sautéed in butter.

Kaki Fry - Deep-Fried Oysters

Kaki Fry – Deep-Fried Oysters

Another look at the oysters.

The signature near the kitchen is Hideki Matsui’s. :-)

Odayasu 小田保

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #6

4 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pickles at Tsukiji Market Nakagawaya

Nakagawaya

Ginger and Garlic, Yuzu Kabu, and Zassai pickles

Pickles play an essential role on the Japanese Table. It is served at many meals. At a kaiseki meal it is included in the rice course with miso soup. Casual curry shops serve fukujin-zuke, a soy-based relish made with daikon, eggplant, and cucumbers. If you really love Japanese pickles, then be sure to have a meal at Kintame. There are two restaurants in Tokyo, my favorite is in Monzennakacho, but the branch at Tokyo Station’s Daimaru department store is centrally located.

We try to include pickles when we can. It’s an easy way to get an extra vegetable dish on the table and fermented foods are good for you.

In the photo above are three pickles from Nakagawaya at Tsukiji Market. On the left is the pickle that I am currently crazy for. Thin slices of ginger and garlic pickled in soy sauce. It has a kick and is great with white rice, fried rice, or simply over tofu. In the middle is an aromatic yuzu and soft kabu turnips. On the right is pickled zassai (Brassica juncea), a Sichuan vegetable called zha cai, which has a nice texture and unique flavor profile that is not usually found in Japanese cuisine.

Japanese Pickles

Japanese Pickles at Tsukiji Market Nakagawaya

There are many shops at Tsukiji Market selling pickles, but none have the selection and variety that Nakagawaya has. The shop is located in the outer market and is easy to find. Some of the pickles are vacuum-packed so it is easy to pack in your luggage to bring home. The staff here are very friendly and the selection is changing throughout the year. There are many regional pickles brought in from all over Japan like iburigakko, the smoked daikon pickle from Akita.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Bamboo Shoots and Nanohana Pickles

This spring we had bamboo shoots and nanohana (field mustard). The bamboo shoots were very tender and pickled in a light-colored soy sauce. The nanohana had a bit of a spicy bite to it.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Kabocha, Ginger and Garlic, and Zassai Pickles

We have tried making kabocha squash pickles at home to no success. The kabocha here has a soft crunch to it and adds a beautiful color to any table.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Eggplant and Kabocha Pickles

Eggplants are in season now and these are harvested young, perfect for pickling. The kabocha pickles are sold like this.

Nukazuke Rice Bran Pickles

Nukazuke Rice Bran Pickles

Nukazuke (rice bran pickles) are something we make at home. Here you can see in the box cucumbers, carrots, and turnips. The rice bran is washed off before cutting and serving the pickles.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Tsukiji Nakagawaya’s Misozuke

Here are the misozuke (miso pickles) of cucumbers, ginger, daikon, eggplant, and gobo (burdock root).

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Nagaimo and Yamaimo Pickles

A very unique pickle that is fun to try are these made from nagaimo and yamaimo potatoes. The pickles have a very crunchy texture but once you start chewing they become very slimy. These come in flavors of shiso, wasabi, and tamari soy sauce. In the bottom pickle can you see that kombu (kelp) is wrapped around the pickles and tied with kampyō (gourd)?

Tsukiji Nakagawaya

Wasabi-zuke, Sake Kasu, and Kōji

Wasabi-zuke is a pickle made from wasabi and saké lees, on the bottom, the two pickles one the left (975 JPY and 760 JPY). Next to that is saké kasu (saké lees) and kōji. Both of these are great fun to cook with at home. We use the saké lees for marinating fish before grilling. The kōji is a very popular cooking ingredient for making shio kōji and soy sauce kōji that can be used as a pickling agent, marinade for proteins, and as a seasoning for stir-fries, salad dressings, and soup.

Tsukiji Nakagawaya 築地中川屋

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-8-5 中央区築地4-8-5

 

 

 

Tsukiji Curry – Higashi Indo Curry Shōkai

Tsukiji curry

Higashi Indo Curry Shōkai at Tsukiji Market

I love curry. So does Ichiro Suzuki of the New York Yankees. I remember watching a television program on Ichiro that reported that when he has home games that his wife makes him curry for breakfast. I found that so fascinating. Curry for breakfast. While I have lived in Singapore and often had curry for breakfast there it roti prata. But in Japan curry is eaten with rice and the concept was so foreign to me. Until I started having curry for breakfast. It’s not something we have at home for breakfast, but it is something I eat when I am taking my breakfast in the city, often at Tsukiji Market. I usually have curry at Indo Curry Nakaei, a shop that is popular with the fishmongers at Tsukiji. Curry for breakfast is a bold start to the day and there are some great options at Tsukiji Market.

Another curry shop caught my attention when it was featured on television as a popular night spot at Tsukiji Market. While most of us think of Tsukiji Market as a morning spot there are a handful of restaurants that are open at night. As the inner market of Tsukiji is moving in a few years to Toyosu the outer market vendors are concerned about the future of their business. Some of the shops have started promoting their restaurants as destinations at night, including the Italian hot spot Tsukiji Paradiso, mentioned in an article I wrote for The Japan Times.

Higashi Indo Curry Shōkai is one of the shops that is open from breakfast to dinner. The original shop is in Fudōmae near Gotanda. The curry (950 JPY) is rich and comes with big chunks of vegetables – carrot, potato, onion, and tender pork. The owner asked me if I liked potato salad and he gave me a bit with my curry. As it was breakfast and curry shops often serve a generous amount of rice I asked for a smaller serving of rice. Even the small serving was a lot to finish. At Shōkai you can have extra curry sauce if you would like, which I gladly accepted.

The owner, Akira-san, is very friendly. He used to be a mountaineering guide in Europe. We had a quick chat and I asked him how he went from mountaineering to a curry shop. He said that when he came back to Japan he was working in the wholesale produce section of Tsukiji Market, which led him to opening his first restaurant in Fudomae. Just as I was finishing a local worker came in for curry, ordering a beer to enjoy while waiting for the curry. There are also grilled curry onigiri rice balls for sale in front of the shop. Early in the morning that was the popular menu item.

While most people coming to Tsukiji Market are coming to eat sushi, if you are craving something more, consider curry.

Higashi Indo Curry Shōkai 東印度カレー商会

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-13-17, Akiyama Bldg. 1F 中央区築地4-13-17秋山ビル1F

03-3542-3322

Gotta Get – Green Tea at Tsukiji Market Maruyama Noriten

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Tsukiji Market is the most popular destination for our Food Sake Tokyo tours. Perhaps the most popular item that clients buy to bring home with them is Japanese green tea. My favorite tea shop in the market is Jugetsudo which is at the Maruyama Noriten Shop. The shop sells a variety of tea including mattcha, genmaicha, hōjicha, and seasonal teas like a sakura tea that has cherry blossoms mixed with the green tea.

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What I recommend for busy people who are not in the practice of steeping loose tea are these convenient tea packs. The tea can be served hot or cold. The cold tea is cold brewed simply by putting two bags with a liter of cold water in the refrigerator. A small package of 15 tea bags retails for 400 JPY. This larger package of 70 tea bags retails for 1,570 JPY.

Jugetsudo tea

Here is the cold brew green tea. It is refreshing and nourishes me through the summer.

If brewing hot tea, then only 15 seconds in 100 degrees Centigrade water.

Maruyama Noriten and Jugetsudo have three shops at Tsukiji Market. The photo above is in the outer market:

Tsukiji 4-14-17

The Main Shop, which has recently been renovated is at Tsukiji 4-7-5.

The inner market, jōnai, shop is at Tsukiji 5-2-1.

Tsukiji Market Tsukudani – Suwa Shōten 諏訪商店

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One of my favorite Tsukudani shop at Tsukiji Market is Suwa Shōten. It is in the outer market (jōgai). The shop is easy to find as there are large square and round aluminum vessels holding the sweet, soy seasoned seafood, usually small fish or shelled clams, and sea vegetables. Sometimes you will find meat products as well, but not much of it to be found at Tsukiji Market. If you walk by and this auntie is working behind the counter, you are in luck, as she speaks English, fairly well.

Tsukudani originated in Tsukuda-jima, which is an island that is very close to Tsukiji Market. The name, Tsukudani, is made up of the place name, Tsukuda, and ni, for simmered goods. This is why Tsukudani should always be capitalized.

Tsukudani originated as a way to preserve the seafood and sea vegetables. It is very intense in flavor as it is quite salty and sweet. The simmering sauce is often made up of soy sauce, hence the dark color, mirin, and sugar. Tsukudani is so richly seasoned that it should be eaten with rice. Usually a small spoonful on a bowl of rice, or as a stuffing for omusubi (rice balls).

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Not all Tsukudani is dark in color. On the top left, the golden-hued ika-arare is sweetened shavings of dried squid. Up front, from left to right, shiitake (formerly dried) and kombu, konago (sand lance), and shijimi (Corbicula clams).

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On the top left in this photo is kiri-ika, also sweetened, dried julienned strips of squid.

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At home we like to make Tsukudani with leftover kombu that we have in abundance from making dashi from scratch. Here on the right are three types of kombu Tsukudani. Do be careful if you have an allergy to shrimp as some Tsukudani is made with tiny shrimp. You could always advise the shop, “Watashi wa ebi no arerugi ga arimasu.”

If you are curious to try the beef Tsukudani, I highly recommend Asakusa Imahan’s version. It is available at many depachika throughout the city.

Suwa Shōten 諏訪商店

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-10-8 中央区築地4-10-8

Essential kanji

Tsukudani  佃煮

Tsukiji Market 築地市場

jōgai (outer market)  場外

Tsukuda-jima 佃島

kombu  昆布

Tsukiji’s Smallest Coffee Shop Amikane コーヒー網兼

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86-year old Hatsue Murata of Coffee Amikane

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Tsukiji’s smallest coffee shop, Coffee Amikane, only seats six. It’s only open two days a week, Tuesday and Saturday. The hours are short, I believe 7:30 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday and possibly until noon on Saturday. If you are lucky to find an empty seat at the shop then grab a seat and have Murata-san pour you a cup of Joe for 250 JPY. More than anything, take in her lovely smile.

Hatsue Murata starts by warming up the coffee cup in a bowl of hot water. The coffee is in a large enamel coffee pot and is sitting in a pot of hot water. On the counter you will find condensed milk and sugar.

We were lucky as Murata-san’s daughter, who lives in California, happened to be there at the shop. Her mother is hard of hearing so her daughter shared with us her story. That she grew up in the house over the coffee shop. Her mother pointed to the coffee grinder and said that it was about 50-years old and her daughter corrected her mother saying it was more like 60 years.

When asked why her mother was still working the daughter said that in Japan, some people think that once you retire you are no longer useful. Her mother only opens the shop twice a week and for only a few hours at a time. Hatsue-san has a lovely smile and shows no signs of retiring soon. Her story reminds me of Jiro-san of Sukiyabashi Jiro. Perhaps Jiro-san also has the same feelings that Hatsue-san regarding work as they are both in their 80s.

If you happen to miss getting a seat at Coffee Amikane then be sure to go to my favorite Tsukiji spot, Turret Coffee. Consider yourself lucky if you make it here and can spend a few minutes with the lovely Hatsue-san.

Coffee Amikane

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 6-27-3

Tuesday and Saturday only, limited hours

Tips for Visiting Tsukiji Market

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These signs are posted at one of the entry points to the inner market (jōnai) of Tsukiji Market. Some great tips here for visiting the inner market.

Most importantly, stay out of the way of the workers. It is a working market, so be aware of workers trying to get around you.

sign2

The inner market opens to the general public at 9:00 a.m.

sign3

Avoid going into the market in large groups.

sign4

So obvious yet there are still visitors pushing around their kiddies in strollers in the inner market.

sign5

Love this. No flip-flop.

sign6

Of course, don’t touch the product.

sign7

sign8

Hey dude.

Some other tips for visiting Tsukiji Market include the following:

Wear comfortable shoes that can get wet.

Travel lightly. No large backpacks or rolling suitcases.

Photos are fine, but no flash as the fishmongers are working with knives and it’s dangerous.

Great shops selling knives, tea, and more in the outer market. Note that many of these are cash only shops.

Be sure to check out the Tsukiji Market calendar online to see if it is open. Usually closed every Sunday and every other Wednesday, but not always.

To see what the new Toyosu Market will look like when the inner market of Tsukiji moves, check out the Tokyo Ichiba Project Museum.

Start your morning with Tsukiji’s best coffee at Turret Coffee, which opens at 7 a.m.

We offer tours of Tsukiji Market. Details are here about Food Sake Tokyo tours.

An article I wrote about Tsukiji Market and some key shops worth visiting for The Japan Times.

Pickles at Tsukiji Market’s Nakagawaya

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Miso cucumbers, bamboo shoots, and field mustard pickles from Nakagawaya.

Nakagawaya at Tsukiji Market, a purveyor of pickles, has a colorful array of vegetables pickled in salt, vinegar, miso, rice bran, kōji, miso, and more. The selection changes throughout the year and this time of year one of my favorites, pickled takenoko (bamboo shoots) are available. Takenoko are boiled and then pickled in a light soy sauce marinade, but there is no change in color to the tender shoot. Nanohana, field mustard, retain a bit of bitterness, a signature trait of many spring vegetables. The other pickle above, on the left, is cucumbers in a miso paste that we picked up while traveling in Niigata.

Hasu1Hasu (lotus root) stalks pickled in vinegar.

Nakagawaya has an impressive variety of pickles, many from different regions of Japan, like the smoked daikon pickle, iburigakko, from Akita prefecture or Nara-zuké, gourds pickled in saké lees for 2-3 years from Nara. These lovely pink-blushed pickles are young lotus root stalks. We love serving this with sashimi.

The staff here are friendly and knowledgeable. We love having pickles on our table, no matter the time of day. It is a great way to add a vegetable to any meal.

Nakagwaya 中川屋

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-8-5