Sushi Dai, Tokyo

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14/20 What does it all mean?

 Food Icon 8 | Service Icon 2 | Ambience Icon 1.5 | Value Icon 2.5


Thumbs up

  • The best sushi in Tsukiji Fish Markets (but read on…)
  • Decent sushi for what you pay

Thumbs down

  • Not the best sushi in Tokyo
  • Extremely overrated
  • Stupidly long queues

Recommended dish(es)

  • Chutoro Nigiri
  • Otoro Nigiri

TL;DR – Sushi Dai is not the best sushi in the world. Hell it’s not even the best in Tokyo. What it is though, is the best sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Markets. And if getting there before 5am or waiting at least 2 hours sounds like your scene, then Sushi Dai is for you.


Sushi Dai Queue

The famous Sushi Dai line. This is what two hours looks like.

First of all, let’s get things straight. Sushi Dai is not the best sushi in the world. Hell, it’s not even the best in Tokyo. To call it that is a great injustice to the hundreds of other sushiyas who do a better job.

There are many tourists and bloggers who boldly pronounce, after one visit to Japan, that the sushi they ate was “the best”. However, their reference point is based on what they have eaten in their own country, rather than what is available in Japan.

This is what has led to Sushi Dai’s undeserving tourist cult status. Logic suggests that the closer you are to the fish markets, the fresher the seafood but the flaw in that is that the best quality seafood is already purchased by the top sushi-yas, and the freshest seafood means nothing if it is not prepared by a skilled itamae.

The second flaw is that, despite what most would believe, sushi is in fact all about the rice. If you ask any skilled sushi itamae, they will tell you that sushi is 99% about the rice and that they spend the better part of the first decade of their training just learning how to prepare and cook the rice, before even touching any seafood. All of the top sushi-yas will serve exceptional quality seafood, and as a result, the quality of sushi is largely varied based on the rice (both flavour and texture) and the harmony of flavour it creates. This is the area where Sushi Dai falls the most; their rice is too cold, too sticky and unproportional to the neta (seafood).

So is Sushi Dai worth going to? Well, it is the best sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Markets. And if getting there before 5am or waiting at least 2 hours sounds like your scene, then Sushi Dai is for you. Because for what you pay, you get some decent sushi.

Me? I’ll meet you over at Sushiya (すし家) for their lunch special.

Sushi Dai (寿司大)
5-2-1, Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3547-6797
http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/22_sushidai/index.htm
Start lining up at 4:30am or be prepared to wait for hours.

Sushi Dai Toro

Not sure if toro or watermelon.

Sushi Dai Chutoro

Chutoro Nigiri – (8/10)

sushidai_otoro

Otoro Nigiri – (8.5/10)

Sushi Dai Anago

Anago (Sea Eel) Nigiri – (6/10)

Sushi Dai Live Shrimp

Live Shrimp Nigiri – (7/10)

Sushi Dai Botan Shrimp

Botan Ebi Nigiri – (7/10)

Sushi Dai Scallops

Scallop Nigiri – (8/10)

Sushi Dai Uni

Uni (Sea Urchin) Nigiri – (6.5/10)

Sushi Dai Shirako

Shirako Nigiri. Yep, that’s fish sperm – (6.5/10)

Sushi Dai Toro Nigiri

Round 2….and 3….and 4.

So fellow foodies, what’s your favourite restaurant in the Tsukiji Fish Markets?

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7 thoughts on “Sushi Dai, Tokyo

  1. I loved the sushi I ate at Sushidai. The rice and the topping blended so well together. Perhaps you had a ‘bad’ day? Perhaps I got lucky on my visit? I don’t know. I’m just glad I went. My next Japan trip is a week from now and we’ll be trying out different places though in Tsukiji.

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    1. Hi Sleimanazizi

      I doubt it was a bad day, many of my more experienced sushi friends say the same. In fact Sushi Dai is not very well respected by anyone apart from tourists.

      Can I ask if your reference point is based on what you have eaten in your own country, or have you eaten around at one of Tokyo’s many sushi temples?

      If your budget allows, I’d recommend you visit one of these aforementioned sushi temples. Some cheaper examples include lunch at Sushiya (review on blog), Sushi Arai, Sushi Ryusuke and many others. You will need a reservation however.

      The sushi at any of the places above will be vastly superior to Sushi Dai.

      Cheers,

      Eric

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My reference point? A decade living in Japan. But then, that is neither here nor there, really. I’m just looking forward to trying other places and upping my own experiences with sushi. Having said that, going to Sushi Dai completely revamped my concept of what sushi is and more importantly, what it could be. I’m more than happy to find better places though. I just like sushi…

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      2. Hi Sleimanazizi,

        In your decade in living in Japan, did you visit any of the aforementioned sushiyas?

        My friend had a similar experience to you. Sushi Dai was a revelation to him. A few years later he visited Hashiguchi with me and his world was changed again. Sushi is a long and wonderful journey.

        If you do go to any of those sushiyas, let me know your thoughts.

        Cheers,

        Eric

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