Please get in line for Sushi Dai…and wait 3 hours

Tuna trinity - Magura, chu-toro, o-toro

Last year I had the chance to visit Tokyo for a conference. Having a really hard jet lag it was not much of a thing to get up at 3 in the morning to visit Tsukiji fish market and see the tuna auctions. After the auction I headed for a sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai, a sushi place very famous on the net.

Sushi Dai is listed as one of the places to go for Sushi – beside the Michelin-starred high end sushi-yas. Many visitors claim, that they’ve had something like „Michelin-quality“ (whatever that is) for a much cheaper price. When I read about queuing for 3 to 4 hours I thought it would be an urban myth. But as I went over rigth after the tuna auction had ended, I found this:

Sushi Dai - The queue
Sushi Dai – The queue

And it was like…6:30 in the morning! Since there was nothing to do I lined up and: waited. A long time nothing went on, a lot of folks from China. It took a while until I found somebody for a chat. The thing is: After waiting for 2 hours there’s no way back. Losing 2 hours seems worse than waiting another one 🙂 At least I could take a walk, since a buddy kept my place in the line. A lady from the sushi-ya even brought us some tea since it was quite cold.

Just a few more steps...
Just a few more steps…

The worst part was actually the end: About 3/4 of an hour you see the shop – you are right in front of it and wait. All in all I waited 3.5 hours to get in. The good thing: I had nothing else to do anyway 🙂

Sushi Dai - Inside
Sushi Dai – Inside

It is a tiny place with maybe 8 or 10 seats. I sat down and my sushi chef greeted me. After ordering the omakase (fixed menu, but very unusual for a Japanese menu you can choose one last bit by yourself). The selection was in contrast to Europe excellent – for high quality sushi-ya it was rather conventional though. The overall fish quality was good. But have a look:

Sea bass with salt and chu-toro
Sea bass with salt and chu-toro

Both excellent – I liked their rather lean chu-toro very much. The sea bass with a twist of salt was very fresh and tasty.

Tamagoyaki
Tamagoyaki

I am not a big fan of tamagoyaki anyway. This was quite sweet, but far too cold.

 

Red Snapper
Red Snapper

Nice fleshy texture, clean taste. Very good, also with the chewy twist of the skin that formed a good contrast.

Uni - sea urchin roe
Uni – sea urchin roe

The sea urchin was actually very good, but served too cold. The taste was excellent – like a mustardy sea-ice-cream.

Mackerel
Mackerel

Soft, intense, beautiful. I just love mackerel!

Clam
Clam

The clam was served „alive“ (though I think it was a trick stimulating the nerves). Very firm with a waxy core texture. Nice.

Maguro (tuna loin)
Maguro (tuna loin)

Guilty pleasure: Blue fin tuna loin. Amazing, like liquid wax.

Maki rolls
Maki rolls

The maki were rather conventional. Good but nothing special.

White fish
White fish

Slightly grilled/flamed white fish. Was good, but nothing more.

Stuffed calamari
Stuffed calamari

My greek grandmother would make it similar to this 🙂

Tuna trinity - Magura, chu-toro, o-toro
Tuna trinity – Magura, chu-toro, o-toro

The o-toro was not 100% my thing. It was not very beautifully marbled and had a bit of a sluggish aftertaste.

Shrimp, chu-toro - abalone
Shrimp, chu-toro – abalone

The shrimp had a soft, waxy texture with a clean taste. And the abalone…well, this one was extremely chewy. I think they didn’t cut it perfectly, since usually the cut makes it at least „biteable“.

Baby shrimp - scallop
Baby shrimp – scallop

The baby shrimp were great, very sweet and rich. The scallop was not special, rather neutral.

My personal sushi chef
My personal sushi chef.

My visit at Sushi Dai was surely nice. I had a LOT of sushi in decent quality and payed about 70 Euros with drinks for a satisfying breakfast. Not to mention that I could hardly move out of Tsukiji market afterwards 🙂

Sushi-Dai is not compearable to a Michelin-starred sushi-ya, don’t let the internet fool you about that. Regarding temperature, cut, variation, fish quality and finishing this place is good average. Rest assured – the Sushi is far better than in any standard European sushi-place. But from what I’ve learned in a REALLY good sushi place, it does not reflect the very idea of Japanese sushi. But that is another story…

Timon
Timon
Spracharbeiter. Kommunikator. Sprecher. Trainer. Historiker. Leidenschaftlicher Koch. Foodie.