Breakfast of Champions

Lately, sushi has been on my mind.  I’ve been trying to cut back on extraneous expenses in attempt to save money for travels.  The first thing that always goes is meals out.  And, the first thing I miss is always sushi.  So, as I sit here eating my bean soup, I am actually salivating as I think about actually getting my teeth around some of that delicious raw fish.  One of my favorite travel memories actually revolves around sushi; I like to call it the Breakfast of Champions.

Sushi breakfast

Preview: The Breakfast of Champions, Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan…and, yes, it was delicious.

In 2008, my friend Maria and I ventured over to Japan for a few weeks, to catch a breather from our jobs and experience an area of the world that neither of us had experienced before.  We stumbled off the plane late in the evening, had a horrid taxi experience, and quickly crashed once we made it to our hotel.  But, wouldn’t you know it, this girl (that would be me) had her heart and tastebuds set on getting a bowl of sushi.  In the wee hours of the morning (or so it seemed…it was probably like 6!), we got ourselves out the door and to the Tsukiji Fish Market.  For those of you who have never heard of this powerhouse of a fish market, it is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.  There is an inner market, where the processing, auctions, and wholesaling takes place; and there is an outer market, with smaller shops and food stalls.  We arrived too late to see the auctions (tourists can see them until just after 6AM?), but still had plenty to explore…and enough time to get a taste of the chaos.  If I remember correctly, we both had at least a few near misses with the the carts buzzing supplies around the market!

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Quick snapshot taken while dodging supply carts and taking in the overwhelmingly wide array of fish and seafood on offer at this massive market. Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan.

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Just a few of the shrimp/prawn varieties on offer here. It was amazing how fresh everything was.

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My attempt at being a stealth observer of this woman systematically and impeccably prepping tuna for sale. I like to think that she never saw me watching, but, let’s face it, I’m sure she just didn’t care!

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Everywhere you look, you see vendors such as this one, preparing their fish for sale and distribution. You don’t know whether to giggle or cry. To favor your taste buds or the health and sustenance of the seas. In this moment, I chose my taste buds. But, this experience has given me something to think about when I’m considering what kinds of fish I eat. (Monterey Bay Aquarium has some great resources for anyone wanting to learn more about environmentally friendly fish eating practices.)

We had fun exploring this place a bit, but we were hungry, and I was anxious to get a taste of some of that famous Tsukiji Market sushi.  So, we ventured out to the food stalls.  Our traveling instincts told us to find the longest line, but our stomachs pushed us towards the shorter ones.  So, we compromised, and found ourselves a cute little place to hunker down for some eats.

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Maria investigating one of the food stalls as we grappled with the decision of where to eat…do we favor our growling stomachs or try to find the place with the best reputation? Can we lose either way? It’s Japan. Ah, can we just eat already?!

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Maria enjoying some tea as we excitedly wait for our orders! These men were machines, really amazing sushi chefs.

Sushi breakfast

730AM: the breakfast of champions. A cup o’ tea and a big bowl of fresh sushi. And, my stomach and soul were happy. Sigh…ok, I’m ready now; what’s next?!

And, we were so happy with our choice.  There may have been a better place to eat.  But, our taste buds were not sophisticated enough to notice.  The sushi was delicious, fresh and flavorful, made to perfection.  The morning was a great start to what turned out to be a really fun trip!

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