Yamazaki: The Early Bird Gets The Sushi
Hello, Everyone! Welcome back! Today, I have an exciting restaurant that I want to talk about called Yamazaki, a sushi bar in the Tsukiji Market just southeast of Tokyo city. On our first night in Japan, Steph and I went with my parents to eat ramen at Ichiran. We were pretty full and jetlagged after our meal there so we decided to cancel our Tsukiji market trip the following morning at 5am. While I was fast asleep, I woke up to a ravenous Steph, insisting that we had to go to the market. Reluctantly, I agreed that it was the best morning to go to the market. So, a few minutes later, we were in a cab on our way to the market.
When we arrived at the Tsukiji market, it was still dark. We made our way slowly to Sushi Dai, one of the most famous sushi bars in the Tsukiji Market. Even at 5:30am, the line already had over 50 people and it was estimated to be over 3 hours until we could eat. Eventually, we had noticed that the shop right next door (Yamazaki) was open and completely empty. We walked in and were greeted with a warm welcome.
Anyway, Steph and I enjoyed Yamazaki a lot. It was a good Tsukiji experience and, for those who don't want to wait over 3 hours for Sushi Dai, there are many other great alternatives including this restaurant. By the way, by the time Steph and I left the restaurant, it was already full of people. It was only initially empty because we were so early.
To start, Steph and I shared the Sakura set (3,200 Yen), which came with 9 pieces of sushi and a miso soup. We wanted to start with a small order because it was so early in the morning and we were not sure how much raw fish we wanted to consume. The set came with Bonito Fish, Pink Shrimp, Ika, Snow Crab, Scallops, Yellow Tail, Chutoro, Maguro, Uni, and Tamago. Each of these items were more fresh than ones I've ever tasted! I don't think I've had bonito fish before but I enjoyed how lean and meaty it was.
Additionally, we ordered some individual pieces of Alfonsino, Salmon, and Jack Mackerel. The star of the show was definitely the Alfonsino, or Kinmedai (see pictures below). This is a beautiful fish, characterized by its huge eyes and bright red skin. Without delay, the chef had finished preparing the sushi. As I was about to grab it and throw it in my mouth, the chef suddenly wielded a great torch, which he used to lightly sear the fish. This gave the fish a nice, charred coating.
The smoky aroma permeated throughout the sushi bar and into our hearts. We immediately fell in love. Upon grabbing the Alfonsino, it was not hot at all. We could actually notice that there were little pools of natural fish oil that accumulated in between the flakes of the fish. It was also topped with Yuzukosho, a spicy Japanese citrus paste (my favorite!). In one mighty bite, I consumed the sushi whole.
I was a fan of how soft and sweet the meat was. If you don't like fishy sushi, you should look for this fish. It's rich in flavor and has a lot of great nutrients.
During our meal, we were sitting next to two older Japanese men. It seemed like they were locals. They had ordered something that caused the chefs to place a live shrimp on the counter as if it were a ceremonial sacrifice (see below). They graciously allowed us to take a photo. After a few seconds, the men next to us were holding a new piece of sushi. It was totally raw shrimp meat. And, it was still twitching! Steph and I freaked out. It was a great wake up scare. They ate it and nodded with approval. I'd recommend this for all adventurous eaters!