Just Wanderlust Blog » A discerning, food-loving, & culturally curious road warrior seeks the world's beautiful and bizarre destinations.

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In Search Of The Freshest Sushi in Tokyo: Sushi Dai

Conveniently located right next to the Tsukiji Fish Market, Sushi Dai is rumored to have the freshest and best sushi in Tokyo — heck, maybe even Japan (well, unless you wanted to pay upwards of $300 USD per person at this other place).  We just finished our visit to Tsukiji Fish Market, we had to see if Sushi Dai was worth the hype.

Since addresses in Japan only list the general area the residence or business is in, finding any place in Japan takes a lot of patience.  And a lot of asking.  Luckily for us, since Sushi Dai is so well known the first guy we asked pointed us in the right direction and we found it without a hitch (unfortunately every “direction asking” experience was not as smooth as this one).  We also recognized it by the mob outside the restaurant and the ridiculously long line that continued at the end of the block.  That line plus the fact that Sushi Dai only seats about 12-13 diners at a time… we knew we were in for a long, long wait.

(This was just the “mob” outside the front. The line continued around the corner and stretched to the next block.)

As if standing under the beaming Tokyo sun wasn’t enough, the line moved at a snail’s pace.  We knew the wait would be long, but we had no idea it would take 3 hours to get seated.  THREE HOURS.  Oh-my-gawd, I have never, ever, EVER stood in any line for that long.  Not even at amusement parks!  This better be some damn good sushi as far as we were concerned!

When we walked in we were immediately greeted with a big chorus of “Irasshaimase” (“Welcome!” in japanese) by the three sushi chefs working that morning.  They thanked us for waiting in line and immediately started working on our first course.

By the way, there are basically two things you can order – an omakase course (about $49 USD) and a standard course (about $31 USD).  We thought the standard would be enough for us so that’s the one we went with.  Besides, once you’re in, you can always order things a la carte so if you’re dying to try something else, you can.

From a presentation perspective, every piece of sushi looked delicious.  And fresh!

Here’s everything we got for the standard set minus the miso soup and tea:

So what’s the verdict?

Every piece we ate was indeed fresh and uncomplicated.  The chefs don’t add anything crazy to the nigiri. It’s all about the fish here. A couple of pieces even melted in my mouth.  But there were also a few that I thought would have been better if it weren’t served at room temperature.

Was it worth the three hour wait?  Mr. T and I both agree that while the sushi was good, it was not worth that three hour wait ( 1-1.5 hour tops).  Having been to top sushi restaurants in the U.S. we just couldn’t justify that wait time for sushi that is maybe marginally better (and that’s a toss up) than what we’d get at home. We really wanted to like it and I suspect we’re in the minority here but if we were to do it again, we… wouldn’t.

Sushi Dai

Tsukiji-Shijo 5-2-1 #6.
Open 5am-2pm. Closed Sun.
Tel: +81-3547-6797

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mark - October 3, 2012 - 1:41 pm

Note: closed on Monday and national holidays
(translate, the 2 days i’m in Tokyo)!!!! 🙁

I did have it the last time i was there. well worth the wait!

Just Wanderlust - October 3, 2012 - 11:30 pm

Good tips!

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