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.

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

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Avoid going into the market in large groups.

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

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Love this. No flip-flop.

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Of course, don’t touch the product.

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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, aburigako, 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

The Future of Tsukiji Market – Tokyo Ichiba Project

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It is no news that Tsukiji Market’s Inner Market, Tsukiji Jōnai Ichiba,  will be moving in the next few years. While the government is saying 2016, our friends who work in the market are telling us it is more likely to be 2017. For sure the market must move by 2018 so that preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games can start. Last I heard the media center would be stationed here. The media center then would be taken down after the Paralympic Games and high-rise condominiums will be built here. As for the Outer Market, Tsukiji Jōgai Ichiba, it will stay as it is. The Outer Market is always open to the general public. It is the Inner Market where the wholesale seafood is, as well as the famous tuna auction.

What is up with the future market? To get a better idea, be sure to stop by the Tokyo Ichiba Project museum which is located inside of the market. The museum has pictures of the future market as well as a three-dimensional models.

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Here is an overview of what the Toyosu Market will look like. One of the attendants in the museum said that the market name will change from Tsukiji to Toyosu once it moves. Perhaps the current Outer Market will continue to be called Tsukiji. It is very interesting as the models also show how the new market will be broken up into three different complexes with each building having a few floors. The monorail is also shown so that visitors will have an idea of how to access the Toyosu Market.

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A photo of the tuna auction at Toyosu. Visitors will be able to view from a second floor viewing platform and from side windows.

Toyosu2

The brand new facilities will be temperature controlled.

Toyosu3

There will be many restaurants for visitors.

What is not shown at the museum, but what has been shown on television is that a hotel will also be built here. There will also be a hot springs at the hotel with an outdoor onsen on the rooftop that will overlook Tokyo Bay. It is slightly more convenient for the delivery trucks to access, especially for those that make the trip to Narita airport. This PDF has a map of the new facility compared to the current location.

* The new market is only 2.3 kilometers from the current location.

* Toyosu Market will be accessible by the Yurikamome monorail.

* The stop for the Toyosu Market is called “Ichiba Mae”.

Tokyo Ichiba Project Museum

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1

open from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

Tsukiji Market Breakfast – Onigiriya Marutoyo おにぎり屋 丸豊

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Onigiri or omusubi is the quintessential comfort food in Japan. A ball of rice that is stuffed with savory fillings. I grew up eating this and it makes for the perfect quick bite. Onigiri-ya Murotoyo is a famous shop in Tsukiji Market known for its handmade onigiri. A television show recently featured this shop and my curiosity was piqued. Marutoyo is just a few shops down from our favorite knife shop, Tsukiji Masamoto.

The selection to choose from is surprisingly rich. I stood there for minutes as I couldn’t decide. The signs are in Japanese so best to ask for your favorites like:

sake - salmon

umeboshi – pickled apricot

ikura – marinated salmon roe

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There is a small seating area around the corner to the right of the shop. A tiny table and a few chairs where you can rest your feet. Marutoyo also servse miso soup and small side dishes if you want to round out the meal. There are also sushi rolls and chirashi-zushi, but it is the onigiri that makes this shop famous.

I went with the bakudan which is stuffed with a soft-boiled egg and a seasonal one of tempura of bamboo shoots. The rice balls are a bit on the pricey side, about twice what you pay for at the convenience stores, and worth the mark-up. My only gripe is that it was under seasoned. I would have liked a bit more salt on the outside of the omusubi. I will be back, and next time I will order an item that is naturally salty, like ikura or pickled greens like takana or the classic umeboshi.

Onigiri-ya Marutoyo

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-9

The shop opens early in the morning, around 3 a.m. according to one website, and is open until about 2 p.m.

Gotta Get – Taberu Togarashi Furikake

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Furikake are toppings that are sprinkled over rice. Most of the times at home we are eating a bowl of white rice. But once in a while we’ll sprinkle on some furikake just to spice things up. This Taberu Tōgarashi is in the genre of the taberu rayū, which we also like to have from time to time. We try to keep this Taberu Tōgarashi in the back of the pantry and not on the table. Why? Because when we do use it we end up eating two to three bowls of rice at a time. It’s that delicious.

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We came across this at Tsukiji Market and picked one up to try about a year ago and now it is a staple in our pantry. Ingredients include dried red chili peppers, black sesame seeds, yukari (dried purple shiso), apricot, smoked and dried fish flakes from skipjack tuna and Pacific mackerel, salt, nori, and salt.

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On the palate you get the heat from the dried red chili peppers, some tartness from the red shiso and apricot, and nutty from the sesame seeds. The capsaicin in the peppers is what makes this so addictive. The package suggests serving it with noodles, fried rice, onigiri, or as ochazuké. I have yet to try it on pizza, but I imagine most dishes that use Tabasco would also do well with this Taberu Tōgarashi.

Taberu Tōgarashi is sold at some shops at Tsukiji Market. We buy ours at a great little shop called Karaimonya, which specializes in chili peppers and all things spicy.

Karaimonya

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #9

03-3541-0607