Lost in Translation
Author: Geordie Willis
Tokyo is a city that moves at a million miles an hour; A thriving hubbub of delectable juxtaposition, from the Gucci’s and Todd’s of Ginza to the Harajuku girls congregating around the Meiji Shrine – a blog such as this will never truly do it justice. Consequently, rather than tell you about the spectacle of live sumo.
I never thought that watching fat men wrestle could be so hypnotic), the wonders of the Tokyo National Museum, or the greatest Manhattan I have ever tasted (forget ‘Lost in Translation’, Radio Bar serves the city’s best cocktails hands down… ), I have decided to simply tell you of one of my highlights, the Tsukiji Fish Market. Tokyo has long been a Mecca for foodies, with Japanese chefs now dictating modern dining trends the world over, and so on our first morning we dutifully made the pilgrimage to Tsukijishijo Station, the home of the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.
A major attraction for visitors to Tokyo, the market houses around 900 wholesale merchants working out of small open stalls and selling everything from seaweed to tuna and caviar. The market is an attack on the senses; colours and sounds ricochet off ever surface and it takes all your efforts to avoid the countless mini-forklifts that whizz and spin down every alley. After a couple of hours of meandering through this immense space (the market handles over 2,000 metric tons of seafood per day), we found ourselves in a sidestreet full of sushi and sashimi restaurants. We decided on the stall that had the longest line (us Brits like queuing of course) and waited stoically to be seated. What followed was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Sushi and sashimi for breakfast may be some people’s idea of a nightmare, but it was so fresh and succulent, yet effortlessly simple… wow, I can’t tell you, it really was a food epiphany.
I do have an apology to make though… (on top of my current overutilization of ellipsis). During my short time in Japan I drank Asahi, cocktails, shochu (a distilled spirit commonly made from rice, sweet potatoes, wheat and/or sugar cane and served mixed with ice and water – we brazenly drank it for breakfast with our sushi), and of course Sake, but no wine…. I’ve heard of people drinking Fino with Miso, and vintage Champagne with sushi (the richness on the palate is apparently a wonderful pairing with the sweetness of the rice, the soy and wasabi), but I am yet to experience this myself. Oh well, as someone wisely told me, “Tokyo is for repeat offenders”; Just another reason to return to this beguiling city.
Great article, Turner. I had the plrusaee of eating at Sushi Go55 about 4 years ago, and it was a wonderful experience. We ordered large sakes, and they brought us these HUGE bamboo jugs about two feet tall full of delicious sake. After those, we were *almost* as drunk as the sushi chef, who still somehow managed to make some amazing dishes for us. We ordered omakase, and I have no idea what half of the items were, but they were well worth the price. But be warned, the staff spoke no English, and Japanese customers who arrived after we did were seated before us. If you go here, just make sure you know your shit, otherwise you’ll look like a fool!Only other sushi place in LA that comes close to this one is Chiba in North Hollywood. The neighborhood is absolutely terrible and dumpy, but the head chef Shigu makes some amazing specialties. Don’t let his surfer accent fool you – his dad was a world famous Tokyo chef. Highly recommended!