8 | 2 | 1.5 | 2.5
- The best sushi in Tsukiji Fish Markets (but read on…)
- Decent sushi for what you pay
- Not the best sushi in Tokyo
- Extremely overrated
- Stupidly long queues
- 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.
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
Start lining up at 4:30am or be prepared to wait for hours.
Not sure if toro or watermelon.
Chutoro Nigiri – (8/10)
Otoro Nigiri – (8.5/10)
Anago (Sea Eel) Nigiri – (6/10)
Live Shrimp Nigiri – (7/10)
Botan Ebi Nigiri – (7/10)
Scallop Nigiri – (8/10)
Uni (Sea Urchin) Nigiri – (6.5/10)
Shirako Nigiri. Yep, that’s fish sperm – (6.5/10)
Round 2….and 3….and 4.
So fellow foodies, what’s your favourite restaurant in the Tsukiji Fish Markets?