Eat fresh raw tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market

When the tuna’s so fresh, there’s blood on the rice…

Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the world’s largest fish markets and one of Tokyo’s biggest tourist attractions. Don’t miss it – whether or not you watch the tuna auctions in the early hours, it’s a must visit later in the morning for a fresh raw fish lunch.

On our visit earlier today, 4 January 2017, there were long queues coming out of many of the little diners. We chose Maguro Isuke spontaneously, while wandering around, as it looked appealing and there wasn’t much of a queue.


Inside Tsukiji magoro
Inside Tsukiji Maguro Isuke

Inside 築地マグロ伊助 Tsukiji Maguro Isuke (maguro means tuna), the menu offers a variety of fresh tuna dishes, along with tempura and yam (another speciality).

Cheek meat Tatsuta-Age – tuna cheek soaked in soy sauce + ginger and lightly battered @ 980 Yen

Soft cod roe tempura – @ 780 yen

We order an obligatory Suntory malty lager each, and tatsuta-age (tuna cheek) and cod roe tempura to start. The tuna cheek is really quite meaty and the batter is light, thin and crisp.

Selection of different raw cuts of tuna with rice and pickles @ 1,380 yen

When the tuna’s so fresh, there’s blood on the rice

For mains we share マグロ漬丼 ヅケド – a rice bowl with three different cuts of raw tuna, served with pickles @ 1,380 yen (quite literally the freshest raw tuna I’ve ever eaten – there’s even some blood on the rice but don’t let that put you off; it’s exceptional) and 築地めしツキジメ (jinenjo-tsukiji- meshi) – a rice bowl with yam, raw tuna and seaweed @ 1,000 yen.

Rice bowl with raw tuna, yam, seaweed @ 1,000 yen

We end up drinking two lagers each. Altogether four lagers total 1,160 yen. And the total bill for two comes to 5,500 yen (for the likes of menus and bills, the Google translate app comes in handy). That’s just under £40.00. A bargain at £20.00 a head.





The verdict: Looking at Tsukiji Maguro Isuke’s website now, it says Fresh raw tuna – you’ve never tasted tuna this fresh before!

I hadn’t. And it was just stunning. The only disappointing outcome is that I’m probably ruined for finding raw tuna this good back in the UK. This was seriously special; don’t miss it.


Tsukiji Maguro Isuke – restaurant info:
– LardButty rating: 5/5

– Address: Japan, 〒104-0045 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku, 中央区Tsukiji, 6 Chome−6−22−3
– Tel: +81 3-6226-2540
– Tuna Isuke website+ menus
– My photos on flickr: Maguro Isuke food – see more photos>>>
– Location: Tsujiki Maguro Isuke map


Habibi Sushi Spitalfields – CLOSED

Conveyor belt sushi in East London

Habibi (an Arabic term of endearment, like darling, baby or love) Sushi is a small Japanese-style restaurant on an alley (or ginnel) near Spitalfields market, where you can pick small plates off a conveyor belt and order hot dishes too.

L and I met for lunch here today, our last meet up before Christmas (taking care to avoid yet another turkey dinner) and it was fairly quiet.

Tempura on conveyor belt, spicy aubergine @ £1.95, mixed sashimi @ £5.05

Current plate prices:
~ silver @ £1.95 – the likes of veggie temaki rolls, spicy aubergine salad
~ pink @ £2.60 – prawn nigiri, California rolls, etc
~ orange @ £3.50 – tuna nigiri, chicken katsu
~ yellow @ £3.95 – spicy tuna maki, mackerel or seabass sashimi
~ blue @ £4.75 – mixed nigiri, tuna sashimi, crab tempura temaki rolls
~ purple @ £5.05 – assorted salmon + tuna nigiri, Habibi sashimi mix

IMG_1084b_habibi sushi conveyor belt
Conveyor belt sushi – octopus nigiri, California rolls, etc

It may not be authentic Japanese but the food was mostly good (aside from the tuna sashimi which was a bit tough and stringy, and partly inedible) and delivery was very speedy – our hot dish orders (vegetable gyoza @ £1.95, chicken gyoza @ £3.50 + chicken katsu @ £3.95) arrived almost immediately.

The verdict: one of very few independent sushi places in the area (getting my vote – in part – for this reason) where you can dine in or take away. Good choices, good service. I’m most likely to return for take away.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, sushi
~ Address: 7A Artillery Lane, London
~ Postcode: E1 7LJ
~ Tel: 020 7247 5290
~ Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate
~ Website + menus: Habibi Sushi website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Habibi Sushi food
~ Location: Habibi Sushi map

Habibi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Market Table at Cookbook Cafe, InterContinental London Park Lane

Market table – seasonal produce

The market table at the Cookbook Cafe is the kind of table I’d love to have in my own kitchen. A huge, solid wood table laden with the most tempting variety of seasonal foods: salads, antipasti, cheeses, fresh bread, and fish and seafood.

This is an ‘unlimited buffet’ with a difference.

Fish, meat, cheese, salads + more on the market table (cake table in background)

A first plate from the market table: mostly seafood and fish

Not only is there a great selection of seasonal foods but – my favourite – there’s a Japanese table:

Choose from fresh sushi / sashimi

…and a second plate of succulent salmon and tuna sashimi with wasabi + ginger

If you’re a desserts fan, there’s an appealing selection of ornate cakes. The only difficulty is deciding what to try! BK and I shared a couple of tiny nutty cakes (just for the sake of completeness), as – preferring savoury foods – we wanted to explore the cheese board. And, by this point, it was time to prioritise. Or burst.

The ‘market lunch table’ (helping yourself to whatever you like) is £18 and includes a tea or coffee. Wines start from around £30 a bottle (we had a bottle of Hugel Gentil Alsace white wine with the first courses of fish @ £28 and a Chakana Malbec @ £29 afterwards with the cheeses).

If you’ve got time to have a leisurely lunch and are in the Hyde Park / Piccadilly area, this is an idyllic way to spend a leisurely lunch but do allow a couple of hours. The market lunch table is served between 12 and 3:30pm.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: British, Japanese, international
~ Address: InterContinental London Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London
~ Postcode: W1J 3QY
~ Nearest tube station: Hyde Park Corner
~ Websites: Cookbook Cafe website
~ Menu + online reservation: Market Table menu etc
~ Offers:tastecard
~ Location: Cookbook Cafe map

Cookbook Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cape Town Fish Market at Oxford Circus

When you first walk into Cape Town Fish Market at Oxford Circus, the feel of the place is really impressive. It’s a vast restaurant appealingly laid out with different sections (a large sushi bar, separate dining table areas and downstairs for the hibachi grills), interesting decor including a big water feature, and fresh fish (helpfully labelled) displayed on ice and – on my visit last night – a welcoming greeting on arrival.

With such an impressive start, my expectations were well and truly raised – especially with such a scrumptious looking menu offering all sorts of fish and seafood from oysters to sushi to sole and calamari. But while food was mostly satisfactory, it didn’t quite hit the high standard I’d hoped for.

For starters we had baby squid (the main flavour of which was burnt oil) and dressed crab (lovely but no denying that the ‘tangy mayo’ was Marie Rose sauce).

Grilled baby squid in a robata sauce – tasted of burnt oil – @ £7.75

Dressed crab with fresh lime and tangy mayo @ £8.95

220g of sea bass @ £14.95 with heaps of home-made coleslaw/ raw cabbage (somewhat bland and devoid of any interesting flavours)

Large interior – quite empty on a Thurs eve

While I don’t think this restaurant will help me in my quest to be converted to like oysters, it does – on the plus side – accept Tastecard (the discount is currently two-for-one, for a maximum party size of two).

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: International
~ Address: 6 Argyll Street, London
~ Postcode: W1F 7TE
~ Tel: 020 7437 1143
~ Nearest station: Oxford Circus
~ Website: Cape Town Fish Market website
~ Location: Cape Town Fish Market map

Cape Town Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Atari-Ya – small sushi bar on James Street

Atari-Ya prides itself on making each sushi order fresh, so be prepared to wait 20-30 minutes while your choices are prepared – there may be several orders in the queue in front of you, particularly for those dining outside on the pavement as well as indoors.

Al fresco dining – on James Street pavement

It may be interesting to watch the sushi chefs prepare each item by hand (and there are a few of them) but it seems illogical, during the busy lunchtime period, not to prepare batches of the most popular items up front.

Chefs assembling fresh sushi at Atariya James Street

Fresh fish counter – plastic display models in front

You do pay for the fresh preparation too. On my visit yesterday, I ordered a substantial take-away of five pieces of nigiri which totalled £6.90 and one portion of sashimi @ £1.80.

Two tuna, two eel + a prawn nigiri and salmon sashimi @ £8.70 total

If you want freshly made, reasonably priced sushi, consider going to Papaya in Mayfair (just off Berkeley Square) where four pieces of salmon nigiri is currently £2.00. But go early as sushi at Papaya sells out quickly and there’s always a long queue for Thai curries too.

I’m not in a hurry to visit Atari-Ya again. While the sushi was divine, it doesn’t warrant paying over the going rate or waiting half an hour for it to be assembled. That said, and on balance, it’s probably wise to phone with any take-away orders, in advance.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, sushi
~ Address: 20 James Street, London (off St Christopher’s Place)
~ Postcode: W1U 1EH
~ Tel: 020 7491 1178
~ Nearest tube station: Bond Street
~ Website + menus: Atariya website
~ Location: Atariya map

Atari-ya on Urbanspoon

Sapporo Ichiban – Japanese and sushi in Catford

Update Dec 2013:
Nearly three years on since LardButty first reviewed Sapporo, Catford has more choice when it comes to eating out and good pubs. On our most recent visit to Sapporo Ichiban, the eel nigiri was very good but king prawn udon noodles were slightly greasy. Service was painfully slow.


Eel nigiri, spicy tuna rolls + more

Vegetable gyoza


Yaki tori chicken

Agedashi tofu soft, squidgy tofu deep fried in a crunchy coating


King prawn udon noodles

Shogun sushi set – comprising 8 pcs nigiri, 8 pieces sashimi + 6 rolls @ £16.80 (half eaten, oopse! So amazingly tasty I nearly forgot to photograph)

January 2011: There are very few reasons to visit Catford – Sapporo Ichiban is the main one. Don’t be deterred by the window display filled with plastic sushi and noodles. Once through the door there’s a lovely indoor fish pond full of colourful fish and the restaurant interior is clean, spacious and bright.


Serving Japanese and Asian food, the menu offers a wide range of sushi, sashimi, rolls, bento boxes, dons, noodles and main courses. On our latest visit here the other day we shared a sushi and sashimi platter for two – it didn’t disappoint.


Oshi sushi platter


Eel nigiri, tuna nigiri + tuna + avocado rolls

IMG_0920_gyoza and crab tempura
Crab tempura + vegetable gyoza – delish!

Sapporo Ichiban menu1 - 2010

menu 1

Sapporo Ichiban menu2 - 2010
menu 2


Inside Sapporo Ichiban – Japanese table with seating on the floor (feet go below floor level, underneath the table)

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, sushi, Asian
~ Address: 13 Catford Broadway, London
~ Postcode: SE6 4SP
~ Tel: 020 8690 8487
~ Nearest train station: Catford, Catford Bridge
~ Website + menus: n/a
~ Photos on flickr: images of Sapporo Ichiban food
~ Location: Sapporo restaurant map

Sapporo Ichiban on Urbanspoon

Ukai on Lavender Hill – now Maki Sushi

Update June 2013: now called MAKI SUSHI
Same restaurant, same menu.

Ukai Lavender Hill – Lardbutty restaurant of the week
eel nigiri

I’m calling it a victory – tonight my dad not only tried but really enjoyed sushi. One parent conquered, one to go.

We all love fish and seafood in my family but my parents have resisted my attempts to introduce them to sushi for a while, claiming they “don’t like Japanese food” based on a bad experience at Wagamama’s Covent Garden (Oopse, totally my fault).

There are three excellent sushi restaurants on Lavender Hill, SW11, including Miyajima and Tokyo Jo, making SW11 residents spoilt for choice.

While Ukai serves quality fish, it’s surprisingly expensive considering it’s a small chain (I’d expect customer volumes across all branches to make prices competitive) and this branch is a bit off the beaten track too.

For example, a portion of salmon nigiri (two pieces) is £3.00 at Ukai, Lavender Hill (£1.50 each). By comparison, a portion of salmon nigiri (four pieces) at the fabulous Papaya in Mayfair is just £2.00 (50p each).

Ukai’s menu may not be extensive either but the food they do serve is truly excellent (outstanding miso soup packed with tofu, seaweed and spring onions etc) and my favourite – grilled eel nigiri (2 pieces @ £5). Mixed platters offer a good variety of different flavours (Jumbo Mix @ £22.00 comprises edamame, salmon sashimi x4, tuna sashimi x4, salmon nigiri x2, prawn nigiri x2, tuna nigiri x2 and cucumber hosomaki x5) and can be a good option for those unfamiliar with this type of food who’d just like a sample selection.

Takeaway dinner from Ukai, Lavender Hill
Far left:
~ Grilled eel nigiri
~ mackerel nigiri

Centre (Jumbo Mix):
~ tuna sashimi
~ tuna nigiri
~ cucumber hosomaki
~ prawn nigiri
~ salmon sashimi
~ salmon nigiri

Far right:
~ salmon, avocado + sesame seeds uramaki

On this occasion, it was great value as I’d bought a discount voucher through Groupon in advance (£16 bought £40 worth of food). Regular menu prices might be high but it’s well worth it if you can take advantage of a promotion so watch out! You get a 5% discount for ordering online too.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Japanese, sushi
~ Address: 39 Lavender Hill, London
~ Postcode: SW11 5QW
Tel: 020 7350 2565
~ Nearest tube station: Clapham Common
~ Nearest mainline station(s): Queenstown Road, Wandsworth Road, Clapham Junction
~ Website + menus: Maki Sushi website
~ Location: Ukai restaurant map

Ukai Sushi on Urbanspoon