Following my last post, here is the continuation of my adventures in Tokyo with details of my visit to Sushi Dai. Sushi Dai is notably the best sushi restaurant in Tsukiji market. Although the restaurant opens at 5 am, people line up at 3 am to grab a spot in one of the 14 seats. The later you arrive, the longer you will have to wait in line. Underestimating the amount of time it would take to get to Sushi Dai, my friends and I arrived at 4 am to see already at least 40 people in line. Mind you, it was cold and raining and by the time we got there, we anticipated at least a 2-hour wait. Realistically, that turned into a 3-hour wait, but every minute was worth what was about to come.
There was a group of 9 of us and we had already figured that we would be splitting up, but the host was able to seat everyone at the same time. If you have ever visited Japan, you would know that a group of 9 people eating at one table a rarity.
Once our time finally arrived, we were immediately presented with the first piece. To start was the egg omelet, a perfectly shaped piece of soft savory egg to warm the palate and stomach. On a cold morning, it was much appreciated as was the tea – can I just take a moment here to say, Japanese tea is far superior to any tea served in the states! It’s no wonder that people buy bags and bags of tea before leaving the country.
To follow, semi toro
Miso soup. The bowl of miso soup was something else. There were visible bits of fish in the bottom of the bowl adding more flavor to the already flavorful soup. I drank every bit.
Uni. I’ve had uni quite a number of times but the one at Sushi Dai was completely different than any other uni I’ve had. The texture was much, much creamier and the taste was much more subtle. I’ve had fresh uni from the shell and ordered it at other sushi places in Tokyo, but nothing compared to this one piece. Is it possible that Sushi Dai is the only place that offers uni of this quality?
The chefs not only at Sushi Dai but at almost every restaurant I’ve been to are all incredibly hard noble individuals. None of this. “I’m a young hotshot chef who wants attention” attitude among any of them. Just hard working people who love what they do and serve the people who love what they make.
Continuing with the meal, the next piece was a delicate piece of surf clam. It continued to curl even when placed in front of you almost giving the illusion that it was still alive.
Tuna that has been marinated for 10 minutes
Pop in your mouth salmon roe
For the last piece, we were able to choose what we wanted. We asked the chef what his favorite piece was and his reply was the filefish. Never having heard of this type of sushi before, I decided to give it a try. What I ended up with was something that I’ve never experienced before. It’s difficult to describe because there’s nothing else like it. The fish is subtly sweet but slightly tangy with a creamy topping, which I still do not know what it is. I enjoyed every lingering taste only to realize that I would never be able to have filefish again.
Several people had the fatty toro as their last piece and said it as “just melts in your mouth.” Looking at it, I can believe them. This, like all the other sushi, was incomparable to any other fatty toro served in Tokyo. Even the appearance is completely different. Just goes to show that Sushi Dai serves only top-notch seafood.
At the end of the meal, the chef graciously offered to take a group picture. Great hosts, even better food and worth every dollar. At only $45, it’s worth every dollar. Literally, every single sushi was 10x, no 50x times better than any other piece of fish I’ve ever had. I can officially say that Sushi Dai has ruined all sushi for me. Until next time…
Check out the rest of “A Taste of Japan” series:
Part 1: Tsukiji Market
Part 3: Tokyo
Part 4: Kikunoi Akasaka
Part 5: Kyoto Pt 1
Part 6: Kyoto Pt 2
Part 7: Osaka
Part 8: Exploring Osaka
Part 9: Kikunoi Ryotei