Before coming to Japan, we were worried about not being able to afford good food. A bit of a disaster for two foodies on the road. After two weeks of being in Japan, we are sick of all those excellent meals.
This is what such excellent food looks like. Sushi from the supermarket eaten on the path by the river.
That's right. You get the best ever sushi in a plastic box from a corner shop. Then you move upmarket to an actual restaurant and slurp the most delicious ramen soup. Another day, you hear about something called okonomiyaki and once you try it, you think it surely must be the coolest thing you've ever tried. It goes on and on from soba noodles to pumpkin tempuras. No hiccups. Just delicious food.
Every new meal was better than the last one and so it happened that we had the very best sushi on the last day in Japan. We went to see the famous tuna auction in Tsukiji market. It was tough. We had to get up at half past two in the morning (how far have I gone from moaning about getting up at seven!) as there is limited number of visitors every day (for some reason, auctioning frozen tuna at 5 o'clock in the morning appeals to a lot of people so queues start before 3am and last places are taken before 3:30).
The auction finishes at about 6, then everyone moves to adjacent sushi bars for the freshest tuna sashimi. Everyone seemed to know which places were worth waiting for. Some queues were up to 50 people and 3 hours of standing outside in a chilly morning air. The sun was high in the sky at that point and we were far too cold so we found a reasonably busy place without a queue and ordered sashimi and a sushi plate.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Let me tell you this. I love cooking and I know that it's the little details making a good meal great. But I have no idea how rice and raw tuna can be prepared in such a way that it's the absolutely most delicious rice and raw fish ever. You can see that it wasn't even the best tuna. We went for cheaper medium-fatty version. What's left to say. We went to a reasonably busy place without a queue. I honestly can't imagine what sushi in a good place tastes like.
This queue culture is amazing. The Japanese can appreciate good food and they don't mind waiting for it on a street in a freezing cold weather for several hours. Many of the best restaurants we went to could only accommodate 10 people at the time so even we found ourselves standing in a line a couple of times. I was never disappointed. The gastronomic tip to Japan: If you see a queue, join it. It will be hell worth it.