Breakfast at Tsukiji

Take an early-morning tour of the famed fish market
Segawa | Time Out Tokyo
By Time Out Tokyo Editors |
Advertising

In business since 1935, the Tsukiji wholesale market is one of Tokyo's most prominent sightseeing spots, always attracting hordes of both tourists and locals. Its illustrious history will come to an end in October 2018, as the central market finally moves to Toyosu. That being said, although the inner market and all the fish will move, the outer market, with its plethora of stalls, will not. Most of the restaurants and shops in the area will continue on as usual, and the Tsukiji Outer Market needs your love. And well, if your main aim was to see the tuna auction, you'll have to head to the very squeakily new Toyosu site from mid-October.

Although a trip to 'Tokyo's kitchen' usually involves sushi or other seafood fare, Tsukiji connoisseurs know it's not all about raw fish. Here's our list of the best places for everything from classic curry rice, surprisingly tasty bread and the obligatory super-fresh sushi, so set your alarm clock and start the day with a truly extraordinary breakfast. Don't bother to get up early on Sunday or holidays though – the market is always closed on those days (as well as on certain Wednesdays). And remember: market insiders always look whether there's a puddle of water in front of the door, which means it's well-visited by the market workers (another practice which will sadly likely end in mid-October). For those visiting during the day, we recommend these fine Tsukiji street snacks.

The best breakfast bites

Restaurants, Tonkatsu

Mackerel Fry Set at Hachiyo

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

This tonkatsu place inside the market area also serves up great fried seafood, made from fish so fresh that it would make terrific sashimi. The menu's diverse, with combo plates of everything from tiger prawns to mackerel and scallops. Believe it or not, the fried jack mackerel set (¥1,000) is a true culinary achievement, and makes for a great way to start the day off right.
Opening hours: 5am-1pm

Restaurants, Tempura

Tendon at Tenfusa

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Tenfusa is the only tempura eatery inside the market, but that doesn't mean it survives on default: as is to be expected, the ingredients here are some of the freshest you'll find anywhere in Tokyo, and the seafood selection is impressive to say the least. Try the basic Tendon (¥1,200), a smallish bowl of rice covered with the day's catch of prawns, flathead fish, anago eel, scallops and so on. The toppings vary by the day, giving you can excuse for repeat trips.
Opening hours: 7am-2pm

Advertising
Restaurants

Curry Aigake at Nakaei

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Nakaei's Indian Curry House serves up handmade curries for 600 yen – a price that's hard to beat anywhere in Tokyo. Cooked for two days in total and containing a wealth of onions and pork ribs, this compentently-spiced variety is one for the ages. The Aigake combo dish, which comes with both beef curry and a tomato-based sauce (¥700), is highly recommended. 
Opening hours: 5am-2pm

Restaurants, Cafés

The Special Set at Senri-ken

icon-location-pin Tsukiji
People who work in the Tsukiji market take their breaks at Café Senri-ken, famed for its pork fillet sandwiches. The Special Set (¥1,100) is a great breakfast choice, consisting of a creamy soup (complete with a soft-boiled egg), toast, salad, and coffee or black tea. Get there early and take in the no-frills atmosphere.
Opening hours: 4am-12.30pm
Advertising
Restaurants, Japanese

Exquisite fish at Kato

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Japanese restaurant Kato specialises in seasonal seafood flavours, serving a selection of delicious sashimi, simmered, salt-broiled, grilled and boiled fish, all cooked to order. The Soy Sauce Alfonsino Set (price varies; from ¥1,900; availability may differ per day) is a great savoury choice that comes with rice and vegetables.
Opening hours: 6.30am-2.30pm

Restaurants

Tuna Bowl at Segawa

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Tsukiji's got no shortage of restaurants combining seafood with rice, but Segawa is clearly among the cream of the crop. Very popular with the regular crowd, this down-to-earth eatery carries top-quality lean, thick tuna, serving it with a soy sauce made with an inherited 'secret' recipe, creating a nice balance with the vinegary rice. The daily special's a great choice at ¥1,600, but you really can't go wrong with the basic Tuna Bowl (¥900).
Opening hours: 7.30am-as long as stock lasts (usually until 12.30pm latest)

Advertising
Restaurants, Street food

Horumon-don at Kitsuneya

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Strolling along Monzeki-dori outside of the market, you'll soon notice a fierce, meaty smell. This aggressive odour emanates from Kitsuneya, a true Tsukiji classic serving the venerable Horumon-don (¥850), a hearty combo of rice, leek and organ meats flavoured with a rich miso-based sauce. Order an extra soft-boiled egg (¥50) to recreate the traditional power meal that's kept locals on their feet through thick and thin since 1947.
Opening hours: 7am-1.30pm

Restaurants, Soba

Soba at Choseian

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

If you're a true Tsukiji veteran and have already sampled all the delectable seafood and street snacks available inside and around the market, it might be worth heading to this well-hidden joint for some healthy and energy-packed soba. The Tsuke Kakiage Seiro combines cold noodles with a warm dipping sauce topped with mushy kakiage tempura, and is sure to shake off any lingering drowsiness.
Opening hours: 7am-3pm, 5.30pm-9pm (Sat 7am-2pm)

Advertising
Restaurants, Japanese

Mizutaki Set at Torito Bunten

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Torito, run by a chicken wholesaler, is unquestionably the top Tsukiji destination for bird-eaters. Go all-out with the Mizutaki Set (¥900), which features a creamy white soup made with salty stock base, chicken dumplings and veg – perfect for a chilly morning by the sea. Treat your taste buds to a feast at Torito, and you might feel ready for an early nap.
Opening hours: 7.30am-2pm

Restaurants, Japanese

Japanese Spa[ghetti] at 4 Season

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Located a short walk from the market itself, 4 Season draws an endless stream of customers with its 'traditional' sausage- and onion-topped margarine spaghetti, known locally as 'Japanese Spa' (¥870). Don't expect any Italian flavours here – the seasoning relies heavily on soy sauce, and a massive pile of shiso leaves nearly covers the noodles.
Opening hours: 7.30am-4pm

Advertising
Restaurants, Bakeries

Croissants at Bakery Le Pain

icon-location-pin Tsukiji

Find this orange-coloured bakery on Namiyoke-dori just outside the market. Le Pain serves up freshly baked bread and great coffee, but we feel obliged to highlight the excellent croissants. Start with the slightly salty Red Bean Jam Croissant for a Japanese original, or choose from varieties like the creamy Vanilla Croissant, the Maple Pecan, or the healthy Five Grains Croissant.
Opening hours: 6am-2pm

Advertising