I had done some research prior and was hoping to get there just after 4am to secure a spot for the tuna auction.
2:30am Wake up from a nightmare that I overslept
3:30am Wake up before alarm and get dressed
3:50am Catch a taxi, I can’t remember how much it costs but I’m guessing around 40000yen or around $40USD. It’s not an exact conversion but close enough.
4:10am Wander around looking for the entrance. I couldn’t communicate to my taxi driver I wanted to be dropped off by the tuna auction and I couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me other than cross the street. By the time I find it the spots are all taken and they say come back tomorrow at 3:30am! I think about coming back but I have an early flight to Korea. I get directions to Sushi Dai but I proceed to get lost for another half an hour or so.
4:50am I’m able to find free wifi and I google map my way to Sushi Dai. There’s already a line out from and then a continuing line around the corner. I join the line and hope the wait is not too long. I’ve heard stories it can be 2-3 hours wait. There are of course other places to eat sushi but this is supposed to be the freshest and it came highly recommended by my friends. With no internet no company I spend the next two hours candy crushin’ the same level to no avail. At one point I grow frustrated and want to stop playing but what else do I have to do to pass the time? I come close a few times so it keeps me going. A woman comes out every so often to ask how many guests per group and when we get to the line in front of the restaurant she asks us which menu option we would like. There’s one for 2600yen and 4000yen. If you’re going to wait 2 hours for sushi before sunrise you might as well go big!
6:50am Finally seated! I got to skip ahead a few groups because there was one single seat available and no other singles ahead of me. While waiting outside I saw people exit, smile, and then pay their belly. Meanwhile I was starving, cold, and tired. Yes, these are first world problems I brought upon myself. It did feel good when the woman ushered me in and I skipped ahead 6 people.
It’s a small shop and everyone sits at the bar. There’s a rack overhead to store large bags but not the suitcase kind more like book bags or large purses. The sushi chefs are all friendly and fairly interactive. The service was excellent. I would finish something and a second later someone picks it up.
Everything in Tokyo I noticed always feels so efficient whether it’s ordering ramen from a vending machine or people queuing for the trains, waiting for people to exit first before entering. I love it!
I enjoyed every bite and would have to say that was best uni I have ever had. For the last piece they let you choose anything you’ve already had and I think they have other options we didn’t try that are available. I wanted to get the uni but I figured tuna was the way to go.
I most recently ate at Sushi Nakazawa in NY, the restaurant run by Jiro’s apprentice so I did have something to compare it to. I would have to say both are quality there’s no doubt about that. Sushi Dai is your hole in the wall place that does the basics well. Sushi Nakazawa adds to that by trying out some new things while still delivering.
By the time the tamago came out I was getting full. And then the tamago was HUGE! They have us two huge pieces. I was tempted not to finish but I didn’t want to leave any waste so I stuffed it down. After the meal I promptly whipped out my 4000yen and got ready to go. The person next to me asked to take a picture of our sushi chef and then the woman offered to take a photo together for them. I then asked for a photo as well and in the process I fumbled and dropped my Canon 70D. That was the first time I dropped that camera but luckily it only has a kit lens and I felt the camera was diesel enough to handle a short drop. The sushi chefs and the woman had a look of shock on their face and they were immediate apologetic. I assured them it was okay and then got my photo. Later I reviewed the photo and saw the other chef hopped into the photo as well! I wasn’t expecting the chefs to be so friendly and it definitely made the experience much more enjoyable.
I headed outside and there was still a long line that wrapped around the corner.
In the end it kind of worked out that I missed the tuna auction. Had I gone to the auction I definitely would have had to wait a good 3 hours for Sushi Dai. I did read a blog post someone had written and it was done so well I felt like I had experienced it! I’ll post the link to that later.
It was definitely working waking up early for Sushi Dai!