Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Sushi A-Hole of Tsukiji

More on my visit to Tokyo...

Sushi A-Hole
Can't read the name but be on the lookout for it!

Nestled in the outer buildings of the Tsukiji Market is a haven for sushi aficionados. It's a small, one bar establshment run by a surly Japanese dude who won't hesitate to kick you the fuck out.

During our visit to Tsukiji, Bronwen had it in mind that we would eat only at a place frequented by "rubber boots." Don't know if that's an accepted colloquialism or merely Bron-slang. The idea being that the "rubber boots" were the working denizens of the Tsukiji Market and the place frequented by them must be a good place to eat.

Our joint wasn't quite a "rubber boot" kind of place. In fact, I think everyone in the joint were merely shoppers and gawkers. However, they were shoppers and gawkers of the Japanese variety, rather than the run-of-the-mill gaijin tourists, like ourselves.

I had noticed this little shop as we wandered through the outer market after the auction. A long line of Japanese people had formed before the opening. I made a mental note that this must be "the joint" and even snapped a photo so I would remember later.

Sushi A-Hole
The line before opening.

By 9am, Bronwen, Teija and myself had seen just about everything and were ready for a proper breakfast of raw fish. Well, at least Bron-chan and I were ready. Teija wasn't keen on fish for breakfast. Perhaps it's her Finnish nature or perhaps they just don't do that in Zambia, but she hung with us throughout.

I'd love to tell you the name of the place, but my reading comprehension is poor and while I can sort of figure out hiragana and katakana, when it comes to kanji, I'm a lost cause. The place is bright and airy - in spite of its' small size. There's a large poster board at the front that shows pictures of all the dishes. Me with the chirashi sushi and Bronwen with a crab dish and more sashimi. That's one for me and two for Bron-chan.

Sushi A-Hole
The menu. Mine is on the right for Y1600. Bronwen ordered the two on the left.

The place was packed. Well, it's really just one long bar that probably holds about fifteen people of so. Before the shop opened, the line was long so we came back later, only to be scolded by the staff for who knows what. They only spoke Japanese, we only spoke English, so it was left to pointing at the pictures.

Remember now, that's three meals we ordered - even if it were for just two of us.

Oh, you know what? I was trying to find a nice way to talk about this place, but there really isn't - the people who work behind the bar are complete and total assholes, especially the guy. Yelling at people for holding a camera - as though we're going to steal the "secret" behind their success. The bottom line here is just that the guy is a fucking asshole - no and, if or but about it.

But we're here for food so we press on. First he makes us walk around to the back entrance to sit at the far end of the bar - okay, this is understandable as the place is fucking packed and there's very little room between the backs of the people sitting at the bar and the wall. We get seated but he's yelling at us some more to sit in the "right" seats and that Teija has to leave because she didn't "order" anything. Never mind the fact that we've got three dishes coming.

You know, it's his joint and I hate to act like a Fucking American, so we go with the flow and Teija waits outside.

Only a few minutes have passed and the food comes. Now, I work in the coffee business and there's a lot of "baristas" out there who comport themselves with a lot of attitude but don't have the chops or the coffee to back up their chutzpa. Because he's such an asshole, I'd love to tell you that the food was plain and mediocre, but this fuckin' guy has got the fuckin' fish to back him up. The tuna was phenomenal.

I'm guessing that they buy from the frozen tuna lots. Because the tuna we saw at auction is frozen solid and it's still pretty early in the morning, I'd say this fish was from yesterday's auction, but it was so unbelieveably good. Crisp, icy cold goodness. The taste, the texture - it's nearly impossible to describe other than to say it was immaculate. Fatty, succulent and delicious. I could have eaten three bowls of this stuff. This guy is an asshole and it didn't matter. It didn't matter how much we had to pay because it was worth it. This guy knows his fish and I thank him for it.

But sushi is nothing without the rice, and this rice was beautiful. Warm, fluffy and with the right amount of mirin and sugar to make it complete. It was heavenly. It was the meal we had been looking for.

Bronwen's two bowls were also excellent, although I have to say that I had the better choice. As much as I love fish, I prefer tuna and this was the Spades of Tuna. I can't stop raving about how good it was.

Sushi A-Hole
The Unbelievable Tuna. Sublime. Immaculate. Delicious.

In the end, we finished our meals and I took a surreptitious shot of my bowl just to spite the guy. True to form, he remained an asshole to the end. While I departed out the back, he made Bronwen squeeze behind everyone else as though we were going to stiff him on the bill.

In the end, I bid him a fond and happy "Thank you, Cocksucker!", they responded back with a hearty thank you as well and we parted ways with Bronwen, Teija and myself disappearing into the crowds around Tsukiji.

1 comment:

ATChipmunk said...

Dude...when I think abouth the area we live in and the Japanese food available to us in Torrance, I think, "This place rocks!".
Then, I go and look at you blog and all I can think is..."This place sucks". That tuna sounds amazing...
I'm not reading your blog anymore...just bums me