We all slept in on our first day in Tokyo – that day at the onsen and the harried trip on the shinkansen the previous day had really taken it out of us. We slowly made our way to the famous Tsukiji market to see what we could and to grab some lunch. When we got there, we were, of course, too late to see any action at the wholesale seafood market but luckily, all the restaurants in the market surrounding Tsukiji were still going strong.

We joined one of the random queues outside the restaurants and soon realised we were lining up for Nakaya Donburi, a restaurant specialising in rice bowls topped with all sorts of seafood but really specialising in tuna. This was one of the pictorial menus outside the restaurant (really, two separate tiny shops but with one queue).

The Menu

The queue went much quicker than we expected and after taking it in turns to wait in the queue and wander around the market, we suddenly ended up at the front. We perused the pictorial menus intently and placed our orders before we were even seated.

And then we were in! The two separate shops making up the restaurant had similar configurations. There was a long bar that sat about a dozen people, elbow to elbow. Each shop was also ridiculously narrow and on the other side of the bar was essentially part of the kitchen.

The Counter

The tiny kitchen extended to the back. Yes, it’s minuscule. It was impressive how quickly the bowls were put together and how quickly one could be in and out.

The Kitchen

Pickles and tea were set out for us as soon as we sat down. A brilliant miso soup arrived not long after. See those blue post-its at the top of the photo below? My order was written on those.

Pickles and Tea

I had chosen a donburi with four different tuna preparations: ‘regular’ tuna, fatty tuna belly, chopped tuna and chopped fatty tuna with green onion. One of the men at the counter indicated how we should take the lump of grated daikon and wasabi and dissolve it into our little saucer of soy sauce.

Tuna Donburi

In addition to the donburi, you could order all the toppings as individual side dishes. Because I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by, I also ordered a side of uni (sea urchin).

A Side of Uni

Oh yes, this was a brilliant lunch – all the seafood was extremely fresh and tasty and did I mention it was a relative bargain too (for London standards)? This all came to 2500 yen (about £15). It was definitely worth the wait!

My Lunch

I know that this Tsukiji market will cease to exist at the end of this year as the wholesale market will be moved to a brand new building. What will happen to all the fantastic restaurants, like this one, surrounding the old market?

Nakaya Donburi
Tsukiji 5-2-1 building #8
Tokyo, Japan