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Monday, January 16, 2012

Tokyo: One Bite, No Soy Sauce...

5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo Prefecture, 104-0045
+81 3-3547-6797
Right before leaving for this trip I was proud of my newly acquired fish-friendly palate. No longer was I just a chicken and beef girl. Bring it on, Tokyo! Guess what, I eat salmon now! Sushi bars here I come....
Fugu AKA blowfish. Potentially fatal if eaten without being properly prepared.

Okay so I lied. I forgot that there are over 400 different kinds of seafood sold at the Tsukiji fish market, and I was about to go for a sushi breakfast right next door. The famous, Sushi Dai was open for business and it was quite obviously the place to be. The line ran around the block with people waiting on seating at this tiny 10-seat sushi bar. Lucky for us, we had an hour and a half of anticipation while waiting on line for a table.

We are slowly approaching our turn at the sushi bar, and a waitress comes outside to ask us for our orders in preparation. The choices? 7 pieces, or 10. I quickly realize my amateur order of 1 spicy tuna roll and 1 cucumber avocado roll simply won't fly. I hesitatingly glance into the window to see what everyone inside is eating, to mentally prepare myself for what's to come.
First sighting: About a tablespoon of rice beneath a wiggling chunk of akagai (live red clam). I heave.

We sit down at the sushi bar. Three chefs prepare each piece one at a time to place on the wooden counter top with specific instructions. Too often I heard, "One bite, no soy sauce". The first piece was fatty tuna. I can handle that! The next was raw squid. Couldn't handle it. I chomped down several times to find out that raw squid doesn't exactly melt in your mouth. Ashamed of my obvious struggle and amateur palate, I abruptly swallowed the remaining chunk followed by a gag and a heave. The good news is, the squid never came back up for an encore despite its brutal attempts. The bad news is, I felt physically and emotionally spent from that last bite, and it's time to let my brother take over the eating for me.

In the end I tried fatty tuna, squid, shellfish, and BBQ eel.  It was a small step for me in the right direction. I hope by next time I visit Tokyo I can enjoy all the beautiful seafood that they prepare like artwork.

Kohada (Plaited Gizzard Shad)
O-Toro (Fatty Tuna)
Suzuki (Sea Bass), Uni (Sea Urchin Roe)
Fatty Tuna Rolls, Shellfish Cucucumber Rolls

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