Friday morning started off with grabbing some breakfast as the Tully's Coffee right next to our hotel. Since the Japanese do not eat the same things we are used to for breakfast it can be difficult to find something that we might consider both breakfast and satisfying. The best places for this would be the hotel breakfast (and ours was around $30 so we passed) and coffee shops/bakeries. Oh, and McDonald's, but we had that the day before when we got on the train. So we stuck with coffee shops.
At Tully's Ryan had a half sandwich of egg and meat (ham perhaps?).
I had some french toast, which was pretty good.
Then we headed over to the Tsukiji Fish Market. This is pretty much the world's largest fish market and the descriptions in the books do not even begin to cover what it is like to actually be there. It is a wholesale market on the inside with a general market on the outside. The wholesale market opens early, and the tuna auction starts around 5:30 am. Some of the largest tuna you will ever see are auctioned off to restaurants and such to use for their fresh fish of the day. Other than tuna they offer just about everything under the sun from the ocean. Everything is fresh and it is regulated for food safety (although I will mention I did see some fish mongers smoking while handling fish, which was surprising, but then again not so much because we are in Japan).
After 9 am the general public is allowed inside to take a look. I am thankful for the information guard that told me to ask each person at each stall before taking pictures. I found that that a few polite words in Japanese accompanied by showing my camera resulted in not getting turned down for any picture. I do always try and be polite and ask permission, but at this market I made sure that I asked everyone and if I could not get their attention I did not sneak a photo. I felt this was the most polite thing to do since I was a guest in their place of business. The Japanese are very respectful people and I make sure to show them the same.
Below you will see some pictures that I took while walking through the narrow walk ways, all the while business was booming, and men on motorized carts were speeding this way and that. It was an insane sight to see, that is for sure, and one that I highly recommend if you are ever in Japan.
This was probably one of my favorite moments. After this man saw I wanted a picture, he picked up one of the fish and made the spikes stick up on end and opened the mouth to pose it for a picture.
This is looking back on the stalls as we exited the fish area and headed to the whole sale produce market.
I can't even begin to explain the the expression I had when I saw how big these were.
Even edible flowers are for sale.
Another cool part to Tsukiji is the outer market, which is more for locals and tourists to buy their own things. Here you can find a number of little restaurants offering some of the freshest sushi you will ever find (because the fish comes from the market right there). There are also a variety of little stores with dried products and fresh foods.
Check out the line here for a place called Daiwa Sushi. We figured they must all know something, so we joined the line.
Researching it after the fact I see this is one of the most popular and famous sushi places here. We only waited 25 minutes, but I read online the wait times go up to 1 hour. I can see why. This was the best tuna sushi I have ever had.
This was red snapper I believe, and sadly it was expensive and I could not chew it. Oops! Not gonna order than next time.
All of the nigiri sushi was brushed with soy sauce on top and the chef told us not to dip it in soy sauce. Here you can see it is shiny, and that is why.
We also made sure to order a tuna roll because after we tasted the tuna we knew it was too good to pass up.
These are more pictures I took walking through the stalls.
Looking back down one of the alley ways.
Do not look at the next picture if you are not a fan of dead fish.
I warned you! Here is the biggest fish head I have ever seen. The men were using a saw to cut through the fish that this came from. Inside the wholesale market they were using carpentry tools to cut fish. It was crazy!
These are Japanese omelets, which are very popular.
More giant things from the ground.
So, that was our first experience with the Tsukiji Fish Market. One word only: INSANE!
Next we headed over to Ueno Park where they have a bunch of museums. One the way to the station from Tsukiji we found this church building and I thought it was very interesting looking.
Also along the way we stopped to eat these yummy strawberries that we bought in the wholesale produce market. They were SO good!
Not sure if these were houses or museums, but they looked cool.
This is a statue that was in the park. It is of a scientist.
We decided to visit the Tokyo National Museum.
Before heading off into the massive museum we gave in and got some ice cream from an ice cream vending machine.
It's a waffle filled with ice cream.
Pretty cool, and tasty.
Ok, now that we were fueled up, we ventured into the museum to check out the displays of various art works and historical pieces.
This one is my favorite. It looks like it could be sold in present day.
This was a tomb.
Some items you could photograph, but others were off limits as they are the property of others. The items are all donated to be placed on display.
For dinner we stopped by the Ueno Station to grab a bite at a traditional Japanese restaurant.
Ryan ordered a juice drink, but when it came it was this little thing, and the server was confused because the other drink was the beer. So much for making assumptions. Too bad the juice was so small because Ryan was obviously still thirsty after that.
Dinner is served!
I ordered a fish and seafood based set meal of small plates. It was served like this, which is typical for set meals.
Ryan ordered a 7 course meal, and this was his starters.
He started with some sashimi, but is not a squid fan, so that was passed on, but he did eat the fish. It is tough sometimes to order if you have food prefs because the set meal is a set meal and there are no substitutions, and they are pricey, so you hate to waste things, but sometimes you just have to order it.
So here is my plate uncovered.
My rice was served with a tiny dried crab on top. Certainly interesting.
These are oysters and they were surprisingly good. I am not usually an oyster fan, but I decided to give them a try.
Sorry it is blurry, but this is a tofu dish. Yes, the server told me this was the tofu dish. It looked like yellow jello to me.
These were a side item we ordered. They are potato and cheese balls. Very tasty!
I wish I could tell you what everything pictured here is, but sadly some things we did not even know because of the language barrier. I do believe this one was Ryan's duck dish.
I enjoyed some tempura shrimp and veggies.
Ryan had a seasoned rice.
This was Ryan's and I can't tell you what it is...sorry!
Ah, but I do know what dessert was. This is sweet potato pudding, and it was very tasty.
Walking around in the area by our hotel later that night (seeking out second dinner or more appropriately a small snack), we found this cute place. It is not uncommon for pictures to show you what the restaurant specializes in. This looks like pufferfish, which is called fugu in Japanese. If you are not familiar with pufferfish, this is a Japanese delicacy, but sadly a dangerous one. The chefs are trained and certified to prepare and serve this fish, but it is still risky. The puffer fish produces a lethal toxin, and if it leaks into the fish and someone eats it, the result is death.
Check out these guys just swimming around in a tank out front.
No, fugu was not second dinner for us.
Instead I decided to try out some Spanish tapas. I just really wanted to go here because I saw they had olives on the menu, which are not popular at all in Japan and I really miss from Europe. Bar Mar is a Spanish restaurant nearby our hotel, so we gave it a try.
We had some nice bread, which we could dip in the mushrooms we ordered.
These are mushrooms in garlic and oil, and were absolutely delicious.
The last thing we ordered was like bruschetta. Yum!
Since it was a Friday night and we were staying in a major restaurant and bar district, the area was super busy and there was so much to see and take in. It was definitely an interesting experience to brave the crowds and try eating out in Akasaka on a Friday night. It was a great end to a great day.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever visited a wholesale market? Ever heard of Tsukiji Market? Would you ever try fugu (pufferfish)? What was the last museum you visited?