Japan 2012 : Day 4 – Tsukiji Market – Sushi Dai, the best sushi and sashimi!

I have so many descriptions and words drafted for this post.
But words escape me at times like this. Instead, how about I let YOU take a look at these magnificent cuts of seafood and then you tell me; what do you think they tasted like?

sushi dai tsukiji market - best sushi in japan

The vibrancy of colours, the thickness of each cut, the way each slice drape gracefully over each perfectly seasoned rice bed. It is torturing writing this post now and knowing that this is a 6 hours and 30 mins flight, 4 hours  airports transfer time and another 3 hours wait at the front of the shop away. 🙁

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Spoiler (if you can’t already tell): This is the best sushi/sashimi I ever had in my life.

The 3 hours standing wait? Totally worth it.

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As I bite into each piece, I could almost felt the flex of the muscles of the fish. Each cut was gloriously fresh, firm and marvelously supple.

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Yes supple. That’s the word for it. It was a sublime feeling biting into each nigiri. As I chew, I went blank momentarily. I closed my eyes and immersed myself in the flavours, the textures & the intensity in the mouth. It was unlike any sashimi or sushi I have ever had.

It was indescribable. Subtle differences that made all the difference. Absolutely nothing like what I savoured before even in KL’s best Japanese restaurants.

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The rice of the nigiri can be an afterthought at some places but no, not for Sushi Dai. Served at body temperature, each grain of rice is almost translucent, perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was slightly acidic with a distinct flavor of vinegar, loosely packed yet held firm to its shape and complements the explosive flavors of the fish.
I ate every single grain.

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I chose the 2500 Yen (RM100) set though I was really tempted with the Omakase Set (3,900 Yen ). In the end it proved to be the best choice, as I was nicely sated after finishing my Jyou set of 7 pieces.

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Besides, there’s also an ala-carte menu that allows patrons to order additional nigiri (and you can choose what fish too!) if you’re still up for more.

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From the long 3 hours queue, I made some friends and we were ushered in at pretty much the same time. This is a picture of us right at the entrance of Sushi Dai. WE ARE NEXT!! 🙂

Tsukiji market - sushi dai - best sushi

Sushi Dai is incredibly tiny. What you see in the picture below basically makes up the whole shop. There’s space for one THIN person to pass through behind the row of seats. Bags has to be kept behind you on the wall shelves above.

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The chefs behind the table worked adeptly and skillfully speedy but remained friendly and at unexpected times, even playful! 🙂

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Once seated, the customary warm towels were served.

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A piece of exquisite, soft and sweet tamago appeared. I took a bite and smiled in anticipation of what lies ahead.

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Then the best pickled ginger was set aside in front of me.

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This was followed by a tummy- warming salmon soup. Slurpssss!!

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The start is a milder tasting fish which then gradually increase in fishy-ness as we progressed along the set; we were informed as the chef starts preparing our nigiri.

I was given the fatty tuna followed by a baby snapper.

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You can add soy sauce or wasabi (and yes it’s the freshly grated kind!) but as each piece is laid down in front of you, the chef advises you the appropriate consumption manner – “no soy sauce”, “one bite” are some of the haltingly spoken English that they managed.

BELOW: I took a bite of the fatty tuna, nearly passed out in the pleasure of the taste and overturned my baby snapper nigiri to admire the flaky but meaty piece of superb snapper.

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Then I moved on to the salmon. Let’s just say I’ll never have another piece of salmon sashimi in KL and be satisfied again.

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Moist and succulent, the Yellowtail is another nigiri slice that was remarkable.
While most of the other pieces has the wasabi sandwiched between the fish and the rice, this one was glazed with a special sauce and topped with a small pinch of wasabi and sprigs of onions. “One bite, no soy sauce”; the chef says firmly as he sets it down in front of me.

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The Yellowjack is not one of my favourite fish but this one at Sushi Dai was bearable. “No soy sauce”; the chef instructed as he served it.
The Yellowjack engages my jaw to work a bit more as it’s firmer with more bite. Anyhow, I find this to be more on textures than flavor.

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My set comes with a sushi rolls, stuffed with minced tuna belly. At this stage, I was already stuffed.

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The chef put up quite a theatrics performance as he braid the next fillet – the Japanese gizzard shad.

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To be honest, I didn’t like it. It’s a member of the herring family and it reminded me of the pickled herrings I ate in Amsterdam; briny, chewy and fishy.

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The Anango simply disintegrate on my tongue, evaporating into a sublime and heavenly flavor as I devour it. In a desperate attempt to make the flavour last, I slowly spread the sea eel around my mouth and tried to swallow as slow as possible.

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The happiest face of 2012! :DD

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I added a 375 Yen (RM15) Cod Sperm Sac sushi since I never tried it before!

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BELOW: Getting ready for my first taste of sperm! Err, I mean cod sperm sac.

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Verdict? It’s was lusciously milky!
The long sacs bursted upon contact in my mouth and the very, very slightly briny and creamy contents flooded my mouth. Not much chewing was required except maybe for rice. I didn’t have any problem with its taste but I can assure you that it’s going to be a challenge for some! :DD

Thanks Elliot for helping me to take pictures and videos of me as I ate in one of the world’s most famous sushi joint.
Sushi Dai has effectively ensured that I’ll never be able to enjoy sushi or  raw fish again as much I did here anywhere else.

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Everything pales in comparison now that I’m back from Japan. On a positive note, Japan was a good training ground for a gourmet like me as I have been seeking and eating the best food possible to train my palate.
Nevertheless, it has also made me even fussier with the Japanese food I consume from now on and satisfaction is  🙁

Pictures in this post: 
sony nex f3

NOTE: We went to Sushi Dai right after the tuna auction and the queue was 2 -3 hours even though we started at 6.30am. Read about the Tsukiji Market tuna auction HERE.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Sean

    beautiful-looking sushi! i think my current recommendation for sushi in kl would be at kame sushi, a little place in hartamas where i’ve been really pleased with their sushi. they only offer omakase, and it gets packed on fridays when the fresh fish is flown in, but it’s definitely worth a try 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      Wow! Thanks Sean. I have not heard of this Kame. Now let’s see if I could satisfy my craving in Kame!

  2. Timing

    Good luck finding good sushi in KL now that doesn’t make your purse bleed! 😀

      1. Timing

        Got some places that are supposedly “as good as Japan places” like Shinji by Kanesawa, but the prices are insane (think sgd300-sgd450 omakase sets …)

      2. rebeccasaw

        YIKES! *faints*
        Have you tried any?

  3. T

    Wow, the cod sperm sac looks amazingly good 🙂 And I salute you for the 3 hours wait.

    I would love to try some michelin sushi bars (like Sushi Umi, Kanesaka, Kyubei) in Tokyo next. But have to save up enough as a meal would easily cost more than 10k – 15k yen 🙁

    1. rebeccasaw

      Wahh same here! Let’s aim for that in March next year .. or summer. I wan to go in summer. Tokyo, eat eat eat then hop to other areas that I missed this time in my trip 🙂
      Hanare at DoubleTree Hilton KL /Intermark building did serve this once, but I didnt managed to try it. Anyhow I’m certain I had the best here 🙂

      1. T

        Japan in summer sounds wonderful .. i wish i could go again next year 😛

        Yes, foods in other parts of japan are just as wonderful. Always the freshest ingredients for local delicacies and sake 😛

      2. rebeccasaw

        Hehehe… i can’t wait. this time I’m more prepared as I know my way and I knw the pricing. I’ll know how to pace myself too, both timing and budget as well as accommodation and sight-seeing!

  4. ulric

    Supple n subtle…good words for some excellent sushi…and who says sushi needs to be served cold…blasphemy! =)

    Btw…I would have gone for omakase…cose no sense in wasting ur travel time…hahaha 😛

    1. rebeccasaw

      I don’t think its a waste as long as I enjoyed my meal.

  5. rayyan haries

    Damn it. now no matter how expensive it gets here in malaysia, it would no longer be the samee…. those look fantastic! I could actually imagine the taste….

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yea, everyday I recollect my memories of that taste. Never wanting to lose it. trying hard to keep the memories of the textures & flavour in mind. and comparing it to every nigiri I have here/ hoping to find the same!

  6. Matt

    I man, I so want to try this.

  7. paranoidandroid

    Hahahahaha… And you always chide me for being picky. Glad to know that you have been infected. :p

    You are now better/more knowledgeable than some self appointed Japanese Food “expert” who belittles every one else as having “local taste buds” but has never even smelled a piece of sushi in Tokyo themselves before. I am so happy you had a good time in Japan!

    1. rebeccasaw

      My tastebuds are slowly but surely getting trained 🙂
      It’s alws good to be more knowledgeable, at least I know waht I’m talking about 😛 wahahha
      And yup, can’t chide you anymore. I’m gonna be more like you already! heheheh!

  8. Elliott Johnson


    You are so very welcome for the pictures but it is I who needs to thank you for talking me into going to the fish market and Sushi Dai as I am soooooo very glad I did both :)! One can not go to Tokyo and miss eating that sushi. It is well worth the wait and I do not like waiting in long lines. You got my trip off to yjr perfect start!

    1. Rebecca Saw

      Hey Elliot!
      You’re welcome too! IM SO GLAD U enjoyed the experience! Yes, it is totally worth it to get up early and make time for this.
      I would go again and again. 🙂

      Happy that ur hols was off to a great start. And may be the rest of it be as SUPER! 🙂

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