November 22, 2010
I've been to Tokyo 11 times in the past decade, and, being a sushi lover, I always make it a point to stop by Tsukiji at least once per trip (sometimes multiple times!). However, I've never been to what is widely heralded as the best stall in the famed mecca of sushi. There's always an insane line (longest in Tsukiji) and I would invariably decide against using up my precious time in Tokyo waiting in a crazy line.
On this my twelfth trip to Tokyo, I finally made up my mind to pay Sushi Dai a visit, long wait and all. It's long overdue.
Two things conspired to make my long-postponed wait even longer than necessary: It was a weekend and I didn't get in line until well past 10 a.m. If I had gone on a weekday at let's say 7, perhaps I could have cut what ended up being a 2-hour-and-40-minute wait to a more manageable 90 minutes or so.
Two hours and forty minutes! I racked my brain for a time I waited longer for food and I couldn't come up with any.
My turn came and I squeezed in to my spot at the sushi bar. The chefs were extremely friendly (in stark contrast to the surly chefs at Nakaya who yells at you for taking photos). The one that was serving me was even able to speak a little in Mandarin and Cantonese (and English, of course).
I ordered the ¥3,900 (US$46.71) omakase course, which came with 10 pieces plus a customer's choice of any piece available that day.
The pieces came fast and furious and each was fantastic. The vinegared rice was as good as I've had at any sushi restaurant. The stickiness, doneness and amount of vinegar were all perfect.
There weren't any really funky, esoteric pieces in the omakase. The set consisted of your standard affairs: toro, mackerel, anago, etc. But that's fine with me — I like the so-called run-of-the-mill pieces, especially when they are as good as they are here.
For my own pick after the chef's selections, I went with the yellowtail and it was shockingly good. I love yellowtail and I order it all the time, but it's not something that has ever made me swoon. Until this time. The chef brushed a light sauce and put a few sprigs of fine baby scallions on top of just the most amazing piece of yellowtail I've ever had.
Even better than the yellowtail were the uni and ikura, both of which I ordered again after my omakase was finished. The ikura in particular was just heaven. I've never had ikura that rich and nuanced before. The depth of complexity in the savoriness was beyond words.
All in all, I think it was worth having 3 hours taken out of my busy Tokyo itinerary, though I'm not sure I would do it again. Nothing is 3-hour-wait good, though this certainly came very close. Next time I'll just try to get there nice and early on a weekday.
For more pictures, see my Sushi Dai photoset on Flickr.
5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku (Interior Market Building #6)