April 21, 2010
After our tour of the fish market and the outer market at Tsukiji on April 9, 2010, Linda, Yumi and I went for a sushi breakfast at Ryu-zushi, meaning Dragon Sushi. It is located between the two markets in the row of buildings which provide a wide range of services, including medical offices, to the thousands of regular workers in the fish market.
While it was a late breakfast for us, it was lunchtime for those who start work in the early hours. Fish is laid out in the market starting at 2:00 am so buyers can have a look before the 5:30 start of the auction. There were mostly empty seats when we arrived; we had passed other sushi restaurants in the market with substantial lines to be seated. Our stools at the end of the counter gave us a good view.
Linda and I ordered the omakase (chef’s choice) sushi and a beer. Good pickled ginger and soy sauce were put in front of us. Yumi advised us not to add any wasabe to the soy sauce as the right amount would be included with each piece of sushi.
Ryu-zushi refuses to provide chopsticks as its rice is light and just sticky enough to hold together when picked up in the fingers; it would fall apart with chopsticks. We really liked it. There was just the right small amount of seaweed and vinegar flavor in it. We watched our fish being cut and put on the rice, which was in a big vat behind the chef.
The second was squid (r) and the third was described as “red shellfish.” (l) (Yumi was using her little electronic translator.)
The squid was good, but quite conventional; the shellfish, which may have been a type of conch, had a flavor somewhat like a clam; it was chewy, but not overly so.
“Flatfish” (r), which was okay and toro tuna (l), which was really terrific.
By this time the restaurant had filled up and a second chef had started working. It was clear that these men are very particular about their sushi. Also about this time there was a fish delivery through the back door into the kitchen.
“Horse mackerel” (with “Japanese leeks” that seemed like chives to me.)
The flavors were getting stronger.
I think this may have been lightly poached in sake. It was very good. The head was not on rice so you could eat as much of it as you wanted. As we looked down the counter, most stopped before the eyes.
Whitefish (whitebait?) or Japanese ice fish
My palate for sushi is not so finely tuned that I can firmly declare this to be the best I have ever had, but, under the circumstances, it probably was. I really liked the rice and using the fingers. But there will be more sushi meals coming up in the next three weeks. We already have a reservation at the highly-rated Harutaka in the Ginza. Stay tuned.
Shortly after we left Ryu-zushi, we saw a grilled eel vendor and bought two sticks, which were delicious.