Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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Japan being an island nation, fish has always been a big part of its cuisine, and fish markets play an important role in the distribution of freshly caught fish to discerning chefs and consumers across the country.
For decades, Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo was Japan’s biggest and most renowned, and it was said that whatever you wanted to buy, you would be able to get it there. In 2018, the actual fish market moved to a new location in Toyosu, but the myriad of restaurants and shops lining the neighborhood’s narrow streets – also known as “the outer market” – remain, and locals and tourists alike come here to buy groceries and enjoy some of the freshest seafood around. Unsure what to get? Let us help you out with this thorough guide to 15 of Tsukiji’s most tasty treats!
Horumon-ni is a general term for a stewed dish made from bite-sized beef or pork intestines which are mixed with vegetables and simmered in miso or soy sauce broth. It’s a standard item at most izakaya since it goes very well with beer.
Recommended shop: Kitsuneya
One of the most popular dishes made in Japanese homes is onigiri (rice balls). Warm rice is shaped into a triangle and filled with ingredients such as grilled salmon or cod roe. However, you can use whatever filling you like, making for endless onigiri varieties.
Recommended shop: Marutoyo
3. Ichigo Daifuku
Ichigo daifuku is a classic Japanese confectionery consisting of anko (red bean paste) and one whole strawberry wrapped in mochi (glutinous rice cake), which is especially delicious when eaten together with a cup of matcha. The sweetness of the red bean paste, the freshness of the strawberry and the bitterness of the tea will come together for the ultimate tasty sensation!
Recommended shop: Tsukiji Soratsuki
Taiyaki is one of the most popular traditional Japanese sweets, and it usually in the shape of a fish. However it is a little different at Tsukiji. Instead of taiyaki, you can find maguroyaki that are specially sold at Tsukiji Fish Market. The dough is made from flour and water which is then poured into a metal baking mold in the shape of a sea bream. A dollop of anko is placed in the middle, and it is then baked to golden perfection. Recently, various new flavors have appeared, such as green tea and custard cream.
Recommended shop: Tsukiji Sanokiya
Tamagoyaki is a Japanese egg dish with an irresistible fluffy texture, and it’s made using a special frying pan. It has become a staple side dish for bento lunches, and its sweetness makes it popular among children too.
Recommended shop: Daisada
6. Menchi Katsu
Menchi katsu is minced beef shaped into a ball and deep-fried to a golden brown. The crispy fried batter combined with the juicy meat make for an irresistible delicacy!
Recommended shop: Yoshizawa Shoten
7. Unagi Skewer
Unagi (eel) is a common component in Japanese cuisine. For example, it is often used to make unaju (eel bowl) and hitsumabushi, but unagi skewers are an easy way to try this delicacy. Unagi skewers are bite-sized pieces of eel grilled on bamboo sticks, and they are perfect for a quick snack!
Recommended shop: Tsukiji Unagi Shokudō
Sashimi consists of sliced raw fish and is highly recommended as it allows you to fully enjoy the freshness of the many delicious seasonal fish caught in Japanese waters. There are many types of sashimi, including tuna, sea bream, salmon, amberjack, and many others. In Tsukiji you can try some of the best and freshest sashimi you will ever eat from various different shops and restaurants!
9. Pork Dumplings
Pork dumplings are made from a flour-based dough, which is stretched thin and then wrapped around minced pork mixed with vegetables like chives and cabbage, and then fried. They are then dipped in a sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar and raayu (Chinese chili oil). Like horumon-ni, they also goes great with beer, and the taste is so good that it might be hard to stop eating!
Recommended shop: Saiwaiken
10. Fish Cakes
Fish cake is made by grinding white fish, such as cod, to a smooth paste, kneading it and shaping it into a ball or various other shapes, and then heating it. It can be eaten as it is, but is also delicious when simmered in soup stock, steamed, baked or fried. There is a wide variety of textures and flavors, each with their own unique names such as hanpen, chikuwa and naruto.
Recommended shop: Aji no Hamato
11. Deep Fried Squid Arms
Squid geso (squid arms) may look a bit intimidating at first, but people in Japan love it, and it’s very popular as a snack when drinking Japanese sake. Freshly fried geso tempura allows you to enjoy the light, crunchy texture of the tempura batter together with the geso’s distinct chewiness. As tempura is best when hot and crispy, we recommend reheating your geso in a toaster oven if it gets cold.
Recommended shop: Tsukiji Kibunten
12. Dried Pineapple
The outer market at Tsukiji does not only sell and serve fish and seafood, but also other products such as fruits. Dried pineapple, made from fresh pineapple that has been dried to lock in its delicious flavor and sweetness, can be eaten as it is and also makes for a great topping for your yogurt or cereal.
Recommended shop: Tamura Shouten
If you visit Tsukiji, you absolutely must try the tuna donburi (maguro-don). Various cuts of tuna sashimi are skillfully arranged on top of a bowl of rice, sometimes even resembling a beautiful rose with its red and pinkish hues. Red tuna meat (akami, 赤身) is light and somewhat refreshing, while the fattier cuts (ootoro, 大トロ) are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Drizzle it with soy sauce to your liking and be amazed by the outstanding freshness and flavors of this Tsukiji classic!
Recommended shop: Maguroya Kurogin
14. Maguro Menchi
If you want something lighter than menchi katsu (mentioned above), you should try maguro menchi (tuna menchi). Maguro menchi is made by replacing the minced beef with minced tuna – it’s less greasy and also serves perfectly as a tasty side dish for dinner.
Recommended shop: Maguro Kobo Tsukiji Hokuei
Japanese beans come in many varieties, from the standard soybeans and red azuki beans to lesser-known ones such as the hana-mame (flower beans). Bean specialty stores are indispensable for those who like cooking Japanese food, and it’s fun to explore the many different varieties that you may never have seen before.
Recommended shop: Yamamoto Shoten
Which of these 15 tasty treats would you like to try during your visit to Tsukiji’s outer market? Tsukuji is located very close to Tokyo’s famous Ginza district, so you can easily combine your food adventure with a little shopping in this upscale neighborhood.
If you want to make sure to visit all the best shops in Tsukiji, explore Tsukiji Fish Market with a professional guide on Tsukiji Fish Market Tour or Tsukiji Spot Tour (90 minutes)! You can learn the history and tips to enjoy the market which only locals know during the tour.
Japan Wonder Travel Food Tours
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From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots!
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▶Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English speaking guide!
▶Tokyo Local Street Food and Drink Tour @Sunamachi
This food tour will take you to one of the lesser-known areas of Tokyo, that is Sunamachi Ginza. You will walk through the shop filled street with your guide and be able to try some of the delicious local street foods including tempura, inari sushi, oden, among others!
▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.
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