#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Burgers, cosplay, yakiniku and Japanese Elvis' » | Sanja Matsuri, Kitchen Town and Beard Papa » | Back in action » | The beginning of the end » | Horumon soba, Hello Kitty and lots of yaki » | Himeji Castle and the running man » | Cycling in Takayama » | Takayama Morning Markets » | Tokyo to Takayama » | Kanda Matsuri Festival »

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tsukiji fish markets, sushi and a Wendy's burger

Our last full day in Japan.

We make the essential pilgrimage to Tsukiji Fish Markets for a wander through row upon row of fishmongers selling all types of fresh seafood. We see giant oysters, sacs of salmon roe, live eels, barrels of wriggling baby eel-looking creatures, assorted sea snails and plenty more. We're too late to catch any of the tuna auctions, but we see quite a few frozen logs of tuna being hacked into, sawed apart, and shaved off by strong men who are bemused by our cameras and constant ogling. We spot chunks of dark red whale meat, kelp flecked with herring roe, enormous scallops and huge tentacles of octopus.

It's a wonder that anyone can find a specific fish monger. There must be a thousand different stalls here, each with its own little cashier hut staffed by women, their heads barely peeking above the little glass windows. There are lots of puddles and the occasional splash from fishmongers transporting fish from one tub to another, but the biggest danger is being run over by the cavalcade of motorised carts, braying insistently throughout the place and driven with a hell-bent intent of a Sydney taxi driver.

We have a late breakfast at Sushizanmai, the same sushi place I ate at last time I was here. The chu toro medium fatty tuna is exquisite, marbled with delicate lines of sweet succulent fat. I have a battleship kobashira bay scallop or round clam, and well as nigiri of zuwai goni snow crab (so delicate and sweet), awabi abalone (a little chewy but delicious nonetheless) and hotato giant Ezo scallop. The scallop is my favourite. It's a huge thick cushion of satiny plumpness.

For maki hand rolls I feast on himo kyu ark shell with cucumber and ikura salmon roe. Both are tasty, the rice is soft and sticky, the seaweed is crisp and the salmon roe and addictive bursts of briny goodness.

We have our own sushi chef who makes all our requests to order, obtaining pre-cut sheets of seaweed nori from his personal red metal tin. As each customer enters, there's a rising chorus of irrashaimase's, welcoming smiles and twinkling eyes that make you feel you're part of one big all-day party.

We notice one chef washing his hands and suddenly everyone in the kitchen is industriously washing their hands. A scheduled hand washing by all staff we suspect?

We expore the surrounding markets (I pick up some bags of bitter melon chips that I know my Mum will laugh at but love) then hop on the subway to Ueno. There's a meander around one of my favourite stores Gap (when will Australia get its first branch?!?) where I pick up a gorgeous leather slouch handbag for 9900 yen (reduced from 29,000 yen!) and we pop into the Chou Factory for a custard puff comparison (very buttery flaky shell and no vanilla bean in the custard. Verdict: not as good as Beard Papa).

Back to Harajuku and another crepe, this time from Marion Crepes located directly opposite Angels Heart. I have the cream cheese version, expecting something like the rare cheese crepe eaten in Osaka. In fact it really is cream cheese, unsweetened, and a little tart and salty for someone expecting a creamy sweet cheese spread. They're more expensive than Angels Heart too and stingier with the filling :(

We head down the designer shopping strip in Ometosando to Oriental Bazaar, a great place to pick up tourist souvenirs, yukata, t-shirts, Japanese dolls and trinkets. I have a late snack of a Wendy's cheeseburger on my way back and am impressed with the generous patty of meat and freshness of salad. There's perhaps a little bit too much mayonnaise but I can understand why Wendy's burgers are often held with such high regard.

It's a big night of packing suitcases so we get takeout for dinner, another interesting insight into the excesses of Japanese packaging. Our local Ringer Hut provides a cardboard base for the plastic bag and plenty of styrofoam packaging for my fried noodles, vegetable stir fry and gyoza dumplings. It's delicious though and ready in less than three minutes.

Read the next Japan entry Read the first Japan entry

8 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/21/2007 11:59:00 pm


  • At 5/26/2007 12:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    omg you tried lotteria and wendy's but didn't try mos burger???
    make that one of your missions the next time you go to japan!
    i was amazed by their variety (see menu) and quality.
    the first time i went to jp i only tried the teriyaki burger.
    i went to jp for the 2nd time last month, and it's a pity i was way too fixated on the spicy cheese mos burger that i didn't get to try anything else. i've been back in sydney for 2 weeks and i still think about spicy cheese mos burgers every now and then.

    as for wendy's, i went there looking for the baked potato with cheese, and it's nowhere as good (and generous) as what i used to have in jakarta, um, over 10 years ago... not sure if it's still that good in jakarta either.

  • At 5/26/2007 1:53 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Natamari - MOS burger was actually on my to-eat list, trust me! My gustatory instincts insisted I try it. Unfortunately it was always wrong place or wrong time and I didn't get the chance. Next time I really need to bring extra stomachs :)

  • At 5/28/2007 12:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi there.. jst browsing your blog and this is great.. i've been to japan but didn't really have the chance to visit some burgers escapes.. but yeah, mos is the best to my opinion :) ~~very nice blog, cheers

  • At 5/28/2007 9:07 pm, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    ah... mos. the yakiniku burger is so delicious. you know, if you didn't want to go all the way back to japan, there are lots of mosburger outlets (and beard papa and takopachi...) in singapore.

    by the way, there were a couple of gap stores in sydney a few years ago, one at the rocks, and another at the airport. and then they quietly closed down and it's like they've never been. maybe that's where giordano rushed in to fill the khaki gap. ahem.

  • At 5/30/2007 11:51 am, Blogger M-H said…

    Thanks for the tip, Helen. We were ex-bloody-hausted by bag-lugging by the time we got to Yokohama on Monday night and found a Wendy's under the hotel. It was indeed excellent - cold crisp salad stuff, hot pattie (that always seems too difficult for Macas so everything there is warm and soggy). Also a really fantastic icecream shop to top the meal off. Found a nice Japanese family restaurant last night and successfully ordered off the menu using the photos. So far so good!

  • At 5/31/2007 1:18 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi vudining - Next time MOS will be at the top of my list :)

    Hi bowb - I've never been to Singapore. I might have to start saving!

    And yes, I do faintly recall Gap having stores in Sydney. But their range was limited. What a shame they closed! And you're right about the Giordano onslaught too!

    Hi m-h - Don't you love photo menus? Sounds like you're having a ball. I'm already jealous!

  • At 6/09/2007 2:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Japanese J Cafe in Melbourne do serve sushi burger.
    I think their Kani Korokke Burger is very nice.
    Super soft croquette !

  • At 6/09/2007 11:55 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Sushi burger? Yum!


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts