Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sushi Dai: The most popular Sushi Restaurant in Tokyo

Japan's Tsukiji 築地 Fish Market is one of the most popular must-visit spots in Tokyo, this area has been mentioned in many travel guide books in different languages.

Other than the typical tuna auction and sightseeing at the biggest fish market in the world, Tsukiji fish wholesale market area is also where some of world's best sushi restaurants are located because of the supply of fresh seafood.

- To read about my recommendations of affordable, Reasonable, Convenient hotels in Tokyo, visit: Affordable Cheap Reasonable Hotels in Tokyo

- To read about my recommendations of affordable and reasonable hotels in OSAKA, visit: Osaka Reasonable Affordable Hotels
- To read about my recommendations of reasonable, affordable, and convenient hotels in KYOTO, visit: Kyoto reasonable, affordable, and convenient Hotels
- To read about where you can find the best Ramen in Tokyo, visit Best Ramen in Tokyo.
- To read about how to save money when you are planning to visit more than two cities in Japan, visit Japan Rail Pass

My first experience with Sushi Dai 寿司大 was in 2007. I went in the month of May where the weather was not too cold in the morning. I have been warned by reading online forum, so I woke up around 5:30am, and arrived at Tsukiji fish market at around 6am. YES, 6 o' clock in the morning.
Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Fish Market.
About 15 to 20 people were already ahead of me in line. There were people eating sushi inside of the restaurant way before my arrival. After approximately 45 minute to an hour of waiting in line at 6 o' clock in the morning, I was being seated in one of the narrowest restaurants I have ever been to.
Narrow sushi restaurant, Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.
Narrow sushi restaurant, Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Fish Market.
Sushi Dai is a restaurant situated in Tsukiji fish market that has made an impact on "Japan food tourism" in the recent years. The operating hours of the restaurants were initially tailored for Tsukiji fish market labors, opens from 5 AM to 2 PM (YES 5 in the morning) The quality, taste, and popularity of this restaurant in the recent years have made world travelers and locals line up early in the morning. The restaurants seats about 10 customers at once. People normally ordered either the ~3900-yen Omakase sushi set or the ~2500-yen nigiri sushi set. Friendly sushi chefs will make mainly nigiri sushi one piece after another for the customers. The entire course of sushi set takes between 20 to 30 minutes. People tend leave after the completion of the meal set. Customers are welcome to stay longer if additional a la carte orders are requested. The ~3900 yen set includes 10+1 pieces of nigiri and one small maki cut roll. The ~2500 yen set includes 7 pieces of nigiri and one small maki roll. I highly recommend ordering the ~3900 yen set to maximize potentially the best sushi experiences you will ever have.

If you are a sushi lover and is far beyond the typical California roll and Spicy tuna roll, Sushi Dai will definitely satisfy your craving.
Uni Sushi Sushi Dai Tokyo Consult TokyoConsult Sea Urchin
Sea Urchin (Uni) Sushi Dai Restaurant. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult

One of the challenges of tasting delicious sushi at Sushi Dai is locating the restaurant in Tsukiji fish market area. Get on  Toei Ōedo Line, exit at Tsukijishijo A1 Exit, then follow the map below, and you will find people waiting in line for sushi early in the morning. Do not confuse Tsukijishijo station with Tsukiji station, they are completely different subway stations. Do not confuse Sushi Dai with Daiwa Sushi (Another popular sushi restaurant nearby)
Sushi Dai Map Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo Consult TokyoConsult
Sushi Dai Map. Tsukiji Fish Market

Second challenge is when people do not believe in having sushi for breakfast. Expect 2 to 4 hour wait if you show up after 9 or 10 am. Many visitors tend underestimate the popularity of Sushi Dai and end up waiting in line for more than 3 hours  when they arrive in Tsukiji late. There are plenty of other sushi restaurant choices in Tsukiji fish market and other parts of Tokyo, if people give up on waiting in line.
Sushi Dai Tsukiji Fish Market Line Tokyo Consult TokyoConsult
Long line at Sushi Dai early in the morning. Tokyo Consult, TokyoConsult.
Sushi Dai Tsukiji Fish Market Long Line Tokyo Consult TokyoConsult
Long/Extended line for Sushi Dai, Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo Consult. TokyoConsult.

The fish market and the restaurants both follows special holiday schedule, please check the CALENDAR before you pay your visit to Sushi Dai.

Sushi Dai opening hour is roughly from 5 AM in the morning until 2pm in the afternoon.

Sushi Dai vs. Sushi Daiwa 大和? (Sushi Daiwa is another very popular sushi restaurant in Tsukiji Fish Market)

I was fortunate enough to have visited both Sushi Dai in 2007/2010 and Daiwa Sushi 大和寿司 in 2007. The line/queue for Sushi Dai is much longer and the price for Omakase sushi set is slightly more expensive than Sushi Daiwa.

Nevertheless, I would always recommend Sushi Dai over Daiwa Sushi  for tasty sushi, friendly sushi chefs, and cozy feeling of the restaurant.

Hotel choices near Tsukiji Fish Market

If you are planning to get to Sushi Dai very early in the morning, you could consider staying at a hotel nearby Tsukiji Fish Market. Subway/Train usually start running after 5am. A long line might be waiting for you at Sushi Dai by the time you get to Tsukiji Fish Market.

Nearby Hotels:
Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza
Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza Premier
Garcery Ginza Hotel Tokyo
Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo
Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Ginza

What is your favorite sushi restaurant in Tokyo???
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