NHK WORLD > JAPANESE FOOD > Special Features > Toyosu – The New Home of Tsukiji Fish Market

Toyosu – The New Home of Tsukiji Fish Market

March 25, 2019

From Tsukiji to Toyosu

The end of 2018 marked the end of an era for Japan’s most famous fish market. Tsukiji closed its doors on October 6, and carts and crates trundled the three kilometers to their new home – the man-made island of Toyosu. The market is now housed in a facility designed to streamline the everyday workings. This means the tourist experience has become more museum-like, with long corridors displaying photos of olden times and explanations of the market logistics – quite a contrast from old days of dodging trucks and absorbing the hustle and bustle.

Yet, for those craving a more sensory experience, fear not: a multitude of Tsukiji restaurants have settled into their new home and continue to serve up their traditional tastes with more than just sushi on offer.

To the market

Part of the fun begins with the journey to Toyosu Market itself. It’s located on the Yurikamome Line, an automated elevated railway which runs from Shimbashi to Toyosu and offers spectacular views of Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge. Just sitting at the front watching the tracks may unleash that childlike excitement of going on a fairground ride. Don’t get too carried away, however, as the stop you want is Shijo-mae Station, not Toyosu.

The buildings of Toyosu Market are connected by a series of walkways

Once disembarking, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the three main Toyosu buildings: the Fish Wholesale Building, The Fish Intermediate Wholesale Market Building, the Fruit and Vegetable Market Building. For those who’ve been to Tsukiji, you’ll likely be struck by the sheer increase in size of Toyosu. The facilities are vast and are all connected by long, elevated walkways.

Visitors watch the tuna auction from the observation windows

Prospective buyers inspect the tuna for auction

Seafood auctions area

The tuna auction

For those keen to see the tuna auction, arrive between 5:30am and 6:30am to head to the observation gallery. Here, you can see the fish laid out in long rows, being inspected by prospective buyers before the bidding begins. Note that you will be at some distance and glass windows block out the noise. There is a lower viewing deck where slots are handed out by lottery ticket, but this must be applied for online the month before. Other seafood auctions, as well as vegetable stores, can also be glimpsed from similar observation galleries.

Visitors eye up T-shirts in the Uogashi Yokocho market

Too many pickles to choose

Knives for every chef

The Uogashi Yokocho market

When it comes to shopping, there’s nowhere yet that sells fresh fish to the public – you can still head to Tsukiji Outer Market for that – but the Uogashi Yokocho market area is comprised of nearly 70 stalls offering an eclectic selection of items. Here, you can find fruit, vegetables, tea, and pickles as well as household goods, large knives, and tacky fish-patterned hats. There’s even a variety of imported European cheese. Of course, to keep your energy up, there are tasty snacks to be gobbled on the spot, from sweet Japanese-style omelette, known as tamagoyaki, to crisp menchi katsu, a kind of breaded, deep-fried meat croquette. On leaving the facility, be sure to get the elevator up to the roof garden for striking views of the bay.

Customers queue up for sushi

Chefs preparing the next round of sushi in the omakase course

Time to eat... sushi!

Tsukji was famed for its good eats and many of these have simply hopped over to Toyosu. Nearly 40 restaurants and cafes are spread out across three areas within the market, offering tantalising variety. At two well-renowned sushi stores, queues start forming early, and even arriving at 6 a.m. might have you waiting for 1.5 hours or more. That’s how long it takes me one Saturday before I manage to grab myself a counter seat, opposite the friendly owner of the store. Well used to tourists, he greets me heartily in English and passes an English menu my way. However, if you’re not fussy, it’s pretty easy to order: the main feature is the omakase set, in which 9 pieces of sushi are served to you, with only the final piece being one of your choice.

Horse mackerel

“Cold” (winter) yellowtail sashimi

Grilled scallop wrapped in nori seaweed

Marinated tuna

Slurping on a hearty miso soup enriched with offcuts of fish, I watch as the chef prepares each morsel with deft movements and smiles. One by one, they’re placed tantalisingly in front of me. First up is otoro, the fattiest cut of sushi, smooth and rich. This is followed by a selection including red snapper, horse mackerel, surf clam, cutlass fish, delicate maki rolls, and sea eel, soft and fluffy. Inspired by neighboring diners, I call out extra orders for some of the seasonal specials. Soon, a plate of yellowtail sashimi is in front of me, followed by a grilled scallop, firm and fleshy, wrapped in crisp nori seaweed. For my final choice in the sushi set, I struggle to decide: I go full gourmand, ordering white shrimp, sweetness peppered with notes of wasabi, followed by a different cut of otoro tuna, a melt-in-the-mouth dream, lightly seasoned with soy. I finish the feast on a high.

Diners tucking into their lunch at a cafeteria counter

Breaded pork loin cutlet

Childhood lunchbox memories: a Japanese take on the Scotch egg

Not just sushi...

But Toyosu has plenty more to offer for those who aren’t in the mood for raw fish. There are old-fashioned cafes known as kissaten, serving up egg sandwiches with coffee and even Japanese-style curry on offer. I pass a ramen joint advertising tempting take-out fried rice. Some of the teishoku (lunch set) restaurants serve extremely good food at reasonable prices and are the best way to beat long queues, especially around lunchtime. I call by at a cafeteria with a modern quirky design and gigantic lamps leaning inquisitively over diners. Its fried oyster set is a customer favorite but I tuck into a succulent tonkatsu (breaded fried pork) and, much to my excitement, I discover a Scotch egg – boiled egg wrapped in breaded sausage meat on the side – bringing back old memories of my school lunchboxes back in the UK.

A luxurious tendon (tempura rice bowl)

For those keen on deep-fried adventures, there is excellent tempura to be had; I queue for over half an hour at one popular store. Here, I work my way through a tendon (tempura rice bowl) where two kinds of shrimp, squid, white fish, eggplant, green pepper, and scallop – a succulent highlight – are coated in thick yet non-oily batter, piled high and coated in a lightly sweet sauce. I finish the remainder of the rice with crisp and refreshing pickles.

The traditional tastes live on

The Toyosu facilities remain a little stark, but it takes only a couple of bites to know that the restaurants of old Tsukiji continue to channel its spirit as a gourmet destination with hearty, good-value soul food for all to enjoy.

Text and photos: Phoebe Amoroso

Toyosu Market is open 5 a.m. – 5 p.m., but most businesses conclude by early afternoon. Closed on Sundays and selected Wednesdays.

Sushi Dai
Toyosu Market Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market building
Address: 6 Chome-5-1 Toyosu, Koto, Tokyo 135-0061
Tel: 03-6633-0042

Tonkatsu Odayasu
Toyosu Market Fisheries Intermediate Wholesale Market building
Address: 6 Chome-5-1 Toyosu, Koto, Tokyo 135-0061
Tel: 03-6633-0182

Tenfusa Tempura
Toyosu Market Fruit and Vegetable Market building
Address: 6 Chome-3-2 Toyosu, Koto, Tokyo 135-0061
Tel: 03-6633-0222

Special Features