Ever wonder how we bring you the freshest Japanese fish? Japanese seafood buyer, Shinobu Habauchi, shops the Tsukiji and Fukuoka markets to help us unlock “a whole ‘nother ocean of fish.” These markets are esteemed by famous sushi chefs like Jiro Ono from the critically acclaimed documentary “Jiro, Dreams of Sushi.” Jiro charges $300 a course for the quality and experience of his dishes. This all starts with the quality of the fish, and thusly with Tsujiki.
Tsukiji is the oldest and biggest fish market in the world. This impressive market brings in vendors, buyers, and tourists from all over the world because they sell the widest variety of fresh fish. Tsukiji boasts 480 types of seafood and 270 types of produce. This includes everything from the most inexpensive seaweed, to the most expensive caviar and the tiniest Sardine, to the most massive Tuna. It’s a fishmonger’s paradise! This astounding market is where we get some of the most exotic and amazing seafood, including some unique sea creatures that are seldom seen whole.
Tsukiji Market, located in Central Tokyo, is the linchpin of the global fishing industry, especially for sushi. This wholesale market holds over 900 licensed mongers including the infamous billion dollar Tuna auctions and remains a phenomenon and a major tourist attraction – but it’s hard to get a ticket. To secure a spot, you must wait in line as early as 3am and only 120 total visitors are allowed per day. The Fukuoka market in Fukuoka City, Japan, a smaller but equally important market, is another attraction where we buy Japanese fish. But, if you arrived at 3am to the Fukuoka market, you might just miss half of the action. Instead, here’s our very own Samuels inside look.
We order twice a week and the products are sent fresh and direct from Japan. Shinobu zealously explains this process by saying, “we pre-order, if we order Friday and it arrives Tuesday, and if we order Monday it arrives Friday. It’s usually caught the same day!” She went on to say that “some products can even be sent alive, like Sawaga Crab.” Shinobu, and Samuels, are extremely proud to be able to provide high-quality fish from Japan just a few days after it’s caught. The Tsukiji and Fukuoka markets have given our customers the option to put Japanese fish on their menu and Shinobu says, “It’s fresh and fast. It’s amazing!”
It’s no secret that Japanese fish is prized for its quality. Japanese born Samuels buyer, Shinobu, explains this by saying “We grew up eating seafood everyday – we take special care in how the fish is caught, cut, packaged, and shipped. There are no dents. It’s straight like a board. It’s just better.” Shinobu shows the importance of having respect for your craft. Something Samuels Fishmongers continue to uphold from the time the fish is shipped to us, until it is delivered to you.
This market has grown exponential in Philadelphia. Our Japanese product line has at least doubled. Shinbou stated “we used to supply mostly sushi restaurants, and now a lot of American companies are using Japanese fish for the quality and the culture behind it.” Even the produce market has grown, for things like Shishito peppers and Jidori Eggs (from strategically bred, vegetarian fed chickens.) It’s not just sushi anymore! Ceviche restaurants and some more upscale, white table restaurants are experimenting with bringing the Tsukiji Market to their menus.
Some of our most popular products include Madai and Hamachi, which are the sushi staples. But Hiramasa, and Shinobu’s favorite – Shima Aji, are strong contenders for our plates too. Shinobu exclaims that Shima Aji “tastes so good that you can’t go wrong.” With the high quality, freshness, and taste, it’s very hard to go wrong with Japanese fish. A fun way to get a taste is the Omakase Fish box. Omakase, a Japanese word meaning “I’ll leave it to you,” is a small, medium, or large box filled with the freshest catches of the day. If you are unsure how to add Japanese fish to your menu, or if you want to optimize cost and quality give this a try. It’s a great way to get a taste of Tsukiji.