The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is the largest fish and seafood wholesale market in the world, processing around 700,000 metric tons of seafood each year, worth roughly US 5.5 billion dollars. Every morning at 3:00am, fish are shipped in from all around the world and unloaded at the market.
After the frozen tuna are unloaded, their value is estimated by the auction houses. At 5:30am, the tuna auctions gets underway. Only licensed buyers are allowed to bid and are usually agents for restaurants and large retailers. The daily number of visitors allowed to watch the auctions is limited to just 140, so we rose early to secure a spot. After donning neon green vests, we were led into a large warehouse where giant tuna were laid out on the ground. The auctioneers climb onto stools, ring bells and some even dance jigs to signal the start of the auction, then yell out rapid-fire Japanese to the crowd of potential bidders. I couldn’t understand a word but it sure was exciting!
After the auctions ended, we walked around the stalls of the market to kill time before the restaurants opened at 7:00am. We saw all manner of seafood for sale, from crabs to sea cucumbers and one very unhappy octopus.
When it was time for breakfast, the Japanese speaker among us asked a shopkeeper for a recommendation and we were directed to a hidden gem.
I went with the bowl of mixed sushi over rice so I could try a little of everything. The shrimp were plump and crisp while the giant crab legs were tender and sweet. There was tuna and squid and several pieces of unknown origin, all delicious. But the highlight was the toro, or fatty tuna. With marbling that resembles raw beef, toro is one of the more expensive types of sushi and is worth every penny.
Would you like to eat sushi for breakfast?