Japan- Sushi Dai- No Stars

Though I do not wish to distract myself from my goal of visiting every Michelin 3-star restaurant, I was so moved by an experience I had in Tokyo that I felt I had to share. A very common tourist destination is the Tsu-jiki fish market, which opens at 5AM (perfect for jet-lagged travellers, who are up anyway). Right nearby is the tiny, family-owned Sushi Dai. As you can see, it gets crazy packed.

 Sushi Dai Interior

Sushi Dai Interior

TOKYO, JAPAN

SERVICE: 3.0/10

FOOD: 10.0/10

PRICE PAID: $35 PP 

VALUE/MONEY: 10.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10

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The restaurant is literally just across the street from the fish market, and all of their supplies are brought in from said market the day-of. 

 

I give them such a low service rating not necessarily for the in-restaurant experience, but for the 3+ hour wait that everyone has to slog through at 4'o'clock in the morning. This isn't totally their fault, but it certainly makes for a rough start to your day. I got in line around 3:30AM and was served sushi around 6:30AM. Word to the wise- there's really no way around the long line since they open at 5 and the line starts forming at 3, so bring fun people. 

 1st Round: Green Tea, 5/10

1st Round: Green Tea, 5/10

Some pretty mediocre green tea that appeared to originate from dry powder and a microwave. 5/10.

 Course 1: Miso Soup, 8/10

Course 1: Miso Soup, 8/10

Next up was some clearly homemade and exceptionally hearty miso soup. This was one of the better miso soups I have ever had, and it was an especially welcome treat after the long, cold wait outside. 8/10.

 Course 2: Egg Cake, 9/10

Course 2: Egg Cake, 9/10

Next was a slice of what can only be called egg cake. It was warm, rich, and extremely delicious. A bit like quiche. 9/10.

 Course 3: Tuna, 10/10

Course 3: Tuna, 10/10

Woah. At this point, I was really getting excited, because while it wasn't artfully presented, this tuna was mind-blowingly good. A small cut of super-fresh tuna that was plucked from the market across the street that very morning, this was some of the freshest and best fish I've ever seen. 10/10.

 Course 4: Red Snapper, 10/10

Course 4: Red Snapper, 10/10

The bright colors on this fish were incredible. The chef cautioned me not to use any sauce on this one, which was a great idea because it stood on its own perfectly. I was totally in awe of the rich freshness from this fish. 10/10.

 Course 5: Sea Urchin, 8/10

Course 5: Sea Urchin, 8/10

With the totally excessive richness of ground-up caviar, this bite tasted like what I imagine eating a handful of pure, decadent fat tastes like. I'm always a fan of sea urchin, and this one was no disappointment. 8/10.

 Course 6: Horse Mackerel, 8/10

Course 6: Horse Mackerel, 8/10

The colors on this fish were stunning- an interesting, flat cut with a small bundle of ginger and herbs on top. The ginger brought out the freshness in the fish, but it was a tad too strong. 8/10.

 Course 7: Red Clam, 7/10

Course 7: Red Clam, 7/10

The clam was fresh and fibrous, and had an almost earthy taste. 7/10.

 Course 8: Blue Fin Tuna

Course 8: Blue Fin Tuna

This blue fin tuna was marinated to bring out that unbelievable color, but the beautiful cross-striping gave this an amazing appearance to go with the amazing taste. 9/10.

 Course 9: Sweet Shrimp, 10/10

Course 9: Sweet Shrimp, 10/10

I'm running out of hyperbole, but... this sweet shrimp was truly incredible; strong flavors of papaya and tropical fruit accentuated by a light dousing of soy sauce. 10/10.

 Course 10: Saba, 8/10

Course 10: Saba, 8/10

With a topping of ginger and herbs, this fish (even though raw) exhibited a smoky, roasted flavor that I loved. 8/10.

 Course 11: Maki Rolls, 8/10

Course 11: Maki Rolls, 8/10

These four small rolls include two veggie rolls- cucumber- and two tuna rolls. When I'm in the states, I normally eat rolls like this, and these shattered all expectations for how delicious vegetables, rice, and seaweed paper can be. 8/10.

 Course 12: Squid, 7/10

Course 12: Squid, 7/10

Only in season for two or three months of the year around mid-Spring, the squid is prepared with squid eggs inside. Though not normally a big squid fan, it was rubbery and fun to eat. 7/10.

 Course 13: Fatty Tuna, 10/10

Course 13: Fatty Tuna, 10/10

For your final course, you get to pick from anything off the Sushi Dai menu. My heartfelt recommendation is the Otoro- fatty tuna. If eating this fish won't convert you to sushi as an art form, then nothing will. This was the most amazing, fresh, rich fish I have ever had in my life, and it was really this individual course that inspired me to break rank from the 3-star restaurants to write about my experience. The extremely reasonable $35 Omakase (chef's choice) menu is worth it for this one bite alone. 10/10.