Tsukiji has been in the news lately as the Inner Market will be moving to a new facility in Toyosu this year. Much to the delight of street food lovers however, the real attraction of Tsukiji – the Outer Market – will remain in place.

By Charles Lewis

While tourists wait in line for the early morning tuna auction or crowded sushi bars in the Inner Market those in the know make their way to the Outer Market where a cornucopia of delicious foods can be had at restaurants and on the street.

Upon arriving at the Outer Market after a short walk from Tsukiji Station’s Hibiya Subway Line on a recent visit, it didn’t take long to be tempted to try some street food.

Though it was still early (the Outer Market is a morning affair, and it closes down in the early afternoon) I couldn’t resist some fish sausage with green onions on sticks at the outer edge of the market. The delicious, juicy junks that filled the entire stick urged me to venture deeper into the collection of shops and restaurants to see what else was available.


Fish cakes with green onion

For many, sushi is an expensive delicacy reserved for special occasions but at the Outer Market excellent sushi can be had at reasonable prices. I couldn’t pass up some buri (yellowtail) from Niigata in a building that housed booths from various prefectures conveniently located next to a rest area where I consumed it.


Buri topped with wasabi

Close by another shop was selling packs of negi toro (chopped tuna belly with green onion) that were a bargain at 200 yen for three pieces with some complimentary tea.


Negi toro with tea

Scallops are one of my favorite shellfish and I was pleased to find some being grilled on the half shell with soy sauce and sake in front of customers. The chef put on a good show pouring the soy sauce and sake from high up and finishing off the bubbling mixture with a blow torch. The small tables located behind the grill were the perfect place to stand and consume the delicacy.


Grilling scallops

Another fine example of what the Japanese can do with fish awaited around another corner where I found ika (squid) shumai fish sausage that had a crunchy outside and juicy inside.


Squid shumai fish sausage

Authentic Chinese shumai awaited a little further down the narrow street, piping hot and delicious served with soy sauce and karashi.


Chinese shumai

Some say simple delights are the best and finding one of my favorite foods in Japan before leaving the Outer Market made me a believer.

I’ve always been a lover of fried food but I had never experienced the joys of korokke (croquettes) before coming to Japan. Soon after arriving I fell in love with menchi katsu (fried hamburger meat).

Much to my delight a shop was selling menchi katsu with cheese inside (I’m a pushover for anything with cheese in it).

With a little sauce on it the cheese menchi katsu made a perfect dessert before I started to walk off my street meal on the way back to the station.


Menchi katsu with cheese

All photos by Charles Lewis