”Welcome to the kingdom of fish.”

If you’re a sushi fan who also has a taste for travel, there are a couple places in Japan that are probably on your dream itinerary. Tokyo’s Tsukiji and Toyosu, the capital’s former and current fish markets, most likely have the top spots, perhaps joined by the morning seafood markets in Hokkaido’s Hakodate and Ishikawa’s Kanazawa.

But there’s a fantastic fish market, with an array of restaurants where you can dine on the freshest possible sushi and sashimi, that’s been flying under the foodie radar for far too long, and it’s the one in Yaizu.

“Yaizu? Where’s that?” you might be asking. It’s a city in Shizuoka Prefecture that doesn’t have the same tourism cachet as the other places mentioned above. What Yaizu does have, though, is Yaizu Fish Center, or Yaizu Sakana Center, as it’s called in Japanese.

“Welcome to the kingdom of fish,” reads the sign above the entrance gate to the facility, looking more like a regional theme park than a fish market.

Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa stumbled across Yaizu Fish Center during his trip to the town to visit Japan’s number-one disaster shelter manufacturer, and the gate pulled him in like a magnet. Even before getting into the building, he could spot signs from its restaurants advertising the meals they have on offer, making extremely happy that he’d found the place before settling for grabbing lunch at a convenience store.

It took all of his willpower to not just jump right into the first restaurant he saw, what with all of its mouthwatering menu pictures. Journalistic pro that he is, though , Seiji knew his duty was to make the rounds of the facility first, then choose the restaurant that was best-of-the-best in terms of appeal.

Restaurants are scattered throughout the market, and the market itself is huge. Fresh fish is, obviously, the main focus of the Yaizu Fish Center, but there are also merchants selling canned seafood and tsukudani, simmered seafood and seaweed. If he lived in the area, Seiji imagines he’d be at this market so frequently that he’d have the layout memorized, but as a first-timer he was glad for the banners hanging from the ceiling designating certain rows as “Maguro Road,” “Crab Row,” and the like, which helped him navigate the market without getting lost.

▼ まぐろ街道 = Maguro Road

The vast majority of the restaurants specialize in sushi and sashimi…

…but there are also places serving up things like hamburger steak and Okinawan noodles, such as the restaurant pictured below.

But Seiji wasn’t about to go home from his first visit to the Yaizu Fish Center without eating fish, and after looking over all his options, he decided on the restaurant Tekkadon Yamamoto.

It has an open and inviting atmosphere. And what really sealed the deal for Seiji was their lineup of dynamic-looking dishes like the one he ordered, the Dynamic Protruding Sushi Bowl. Yeah, at 2,000 yen (US$15.15) it’s not the cheapest thing on order, and it’ll take a while to put that much into the restaurant’s meal ticket vending machine if you’re paying in coins. It’s all worth it, though, when they bring this to your table.

Yes, the Dynamic Protruding Sushi Bowl gets its name from the fact that its slices of maguro (tuna), bintoro (albacore tuna), and salmon are way, way too big to fit inside the bowl, and instead spill out over the sides.

▼ Which is why the bowl itself is served on top of a cutting board.

▼ Oh, and you also get a bowl of miso soup, as Seiji noticed once he could pry his eyes away from all that wonderous fish.

Heart pounding with excitement and stomach growling in anticipation, Seiji picked up one of the slices of fish and learned that they’re not just luxuriously long, but thoroughly thick too. Popping one into his mouth filled his cheek like a hamster’s, and he was overwhelmed by how delicious and decadent the sensation was.

Tekkadon Yamamoto absolutely delivers on quantity with the Dynamic Protruding Sushi Bowl, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on quality at all. Not only were the tuna and salmon sashimi great, but so was the negi toro (grated tuna with green onion). And while you can’t see it in these photos, yes, there actually is rice in the bowl too, expertly vinegared to provide just the right flavor to tie everything together harmoniously.

▼ Seiji, coming to grips with the realization that he might be falling in love with this sushi bowl.

Yaizu Fish Center has actually been open since 1985, but its off-the-beaten-path status means that even today a lot of foodies in Japan have never heard of it. Now that we do know about it though? We think we’ll be stopping by whenever we can.

Location information
Yaizu Fish Center / 焼津さかなセンター
Address: Shizuoka-ken, Yaizu-shi, Yagusu 4-13-7
住所 静岡県焼津市八楠4丁目13−7
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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