Sushi Dai and Horse Meat!

We spent Tokyo day #7 early. Like, we didn’t sleep early! As covered in our last post, the three of us decided to prime ourselves for our Sushi Dai adventure starting in Ginza. Because the famous Sushi Dai in Tsukiji fish market opened at 5AM to huge lines, we wanted to be one of the first (if not the first) in line. So instead of getting up at 3AM to taxi over (which was a terrible idea for me since I cannot wake up that early), we decided to stay up until Sushi Dai opened. Yup, until 5AM. Also one of the earliest breakfasts I would ever have.

Our plan was simple. Drink, eat, Sushi Dai. By the time we finished our late night ramen, it was a little past 2:30AM and so we began to roam around the Tsukiji fish market.

Roaming the streets of Ginza at 2AM

Roaming the streets of Ginza at 2AM

By the time we got to the area, it was already buzzing with activity. This was around 3AM and workers were zipping by with their motorized carts carrying tubs of fish.

With the help of Google Maps and some screenshots of the storefront, we were able to locate Sushi Dai…

Our destination is the one in the middle -- in the dark

Our destination is the one in the middle — in the dark

Considering that it was about 2 hours before opening at what seemed to be a crazy odd hour to be waiting in line for sushi, we were NOT the first ones in line. We were able to spot the restaurant because standing in the shadows was one man…taking pictures.

So there we stood. And waited. And waited… As the hours crept on, more people showed up. Around 4AM, a line began to form. By 4:30AM, there were at least 20 people in line. These people were dedicated to get here so early. But then again, we were here before them… so I guess that made us crazy!

As the shop lights turned on and one of the chefs came out to greet us, we could feel our anticipation growing. The clock slowly ticked by. We were tired of course. Standing around for 2 hours at the wee hours of the night without sleep.

Dawn had crept in and it was getting brighter by the second until… 5AM.

Quite promptly, one of the chefs opened the sliding doors and greeted us, welcoming the first 13 into the restaurant.

The shop was small and unassuming. There wasn’t any interior decor or things of note. Simple, no-nonsense.

We sat down in simple swiveling diner chairs. The chef provided us an english menu and we confirmed that we wanted the Omakase. Our chef took off to work.

Chefs hard at work for the first customers of the day!

Chefs hard at work for the first customers of the day!

Fits only 13. Be part of the lucky first round!

Fits only 13. Be part of the lucky first round!

After handing us hot towels and hot green tea, we were served the first bite within 10 minutes. And so it began…

TORO SUSHI!

Beautiful tuna sushi nigiri. Just look at that color!

Beautiful tuna sushi nigiri. Just look at that color!

Piggy digging into her first nigiri

Piggy digging into her first nigiri

The first nigiri was sooo satisfying. I had never had sushi for breakfast before this. It was a bit weird to have sushi at 5AM. But the fish was as fresh as it gets.

In addition to the first nigiri, we were given miso soup with real crab pieces.

A warming crab miso soup to get the stomach primed for the sushi train

A warming crab miso soup to get the stomach primed for the sushi train

The soup was exactly what we needed to warm up our bodies. I could feel the hot liquid travel down my throat and warm my belly. This was perfect for the sushi rollercoaster! And the sushi coaster was off!

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WEEEE!

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YAAAAY!

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UNI!!!!

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FRESHNESSS!

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This giant surf clam nigiri curled up when the chef slapped it in his hand!

So bright red! Incredible! One of the best bites ever

So bright red! Incredible! One of the best bites ever

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Aji (Horse Mackerel) was my favorite!

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The 11 item sushi course ended with the last one being any sushi from the list prior. I opted for another piece of the Tuna sushi. For 4400 yen ($44 USD), this is one of the best omakase meals you can get. It also explains the huge popularity as well. Just look at the line when we got out:

Finished eating a quarter before 6AM and check out the line

Finished eating a quarter before 6AM and check out the line

With a big item crossed off our list, we were ready to crash. We headed back to our AirBnB with the sun brightly lit and snoozed…

It wasn’t until 2PM or so when we grabbed a quick bite near our area and took it easy for the day.

Took it easy with an oyako don

Took it easy with an oyako don

Simple curry tonkatsu for lunch

Simple curry tonkatsu for lunch

At night, Yoshiko (our AirBnB hostess) wanted to take us out to dinner at an izakaya. With 2 other of her AirBnB guests, we all drank beers and tried out some new food.

This place was known to serve a few delicacies not found in the U.S.

For instance… whale meat.

WHALE MEAT! Really just tastes like squid with beef texture

WHALE MEAT! Really just tastes like squid with beef texture

At first, it just seemed like proscuitto. A little hesitant, we went ahead and picked up a piece, digging right in.

The texture was definitely like a proscuitto or thinly sliced beef. But the flavor? Flavors of the sea! It tasted exactly like dried squid. Not bad! But I wouldn’t make it a habit to eat.

The whole crew continued our munching and chatted about our respective countries. It was an awesome experience having people from all around the world dining at one table.

We are much rounder by this point but very happy

We are much rounder by this point but very happy

The rest of the AirBnB folks all guests of Yoshiko!

‘ The rest of the AirBnB folks all guests of Yoshiko!

Another delicacy we got to try here was horse meat–raw horse meat. Yup, my little pony type of horse meat.

Raw horse meat... sorry Seabiscuit

Raw horse meat… sorry Seabiscuit

The taste was a bit gamy but otherwise was just like beef. I had no problem eating it except for the fact that I think horses are majestic stallions. So I think that was enough horse meat for me…

We finished off with something a little more normal (chicken skin and chicken thigh yakitori).

A few skewers to round off the set

A few skewers to round off the set

Having checked off a lot of things new things off of our list (sushi dai, whale meat, and horse meat) in one day, Yoshiko brought us to a bar she usually brings her guests to. It was a small quaint spot with plenty of American trinkets and memorabilia decorating the walls. From posters to vinyl records, it was interesting to see so many American things this far away from America. But nevertheless, it was a wonderful spot to wrap up the night. Ganbai!

With Yoshiko and the gang!

With Yoshiko and the gang!

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