Japan’s oldest Yoshinoya branch reopens in a new location: Tokyo’s brand-new Toyosu fish market
We stop by to taste the continuing tradition and take a sneak peek at the replacement for the world-famous Tsukiji market.
Last Saturday, the Inner Market of Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market shut down. It was a sad day for anyone who loves sushi and sashimi…and also for fans of beef bowls. The Inner Market was also the location of the oldest Yoshinoya branch in Japan, which had been in operation since 1926. We stopped by for one last gyudon (as beef bowls are called in Japanese) before the restaurant shut down, and it was a bittersweet, though delicious, experience.
But time marches on, and on October 11 Tokyo’s brand-new Toyosu fish market opened. While the market won’t be accessible to the general public until October 13, we stopped by on the first business-to-business day to take a look at Japan’s new premiere entry point for seafood of all kinds.
▼ Toyosu market
The Toyosu market is further east from the city center than its Tsukiji predecessor was, and getting to it required us to hop on the Yurikamome, the automated monorail that runs from downtown across part of Tokyo Bay. The nearest stop to the market is Ichibamae, which means, appropriately enough “in front of the market.”
▼ Ichibamae Station (red circle) and Toyosu market (blue circle)
After heading out of the station’s north exit, it’s a short walk to the market’s entrance, with an elevated walkway taking you straight to the gate. The market has an astounding 408,000 square meters (4.39 million square feet) of floor space, with separate sections for wholesale and consumer seafood sales, as well as a fruit and vegetable market and administrative offices.
The third floor also has an “observation gallery” which allows visitors to look in on the wholesale market without getting in the way of merchants and auctioneers, which was a source of tension at the Tsukiji site.
Just inside one of the wholesale building’s entrances, however, is a row of restaurants that’s open to the public as well as market workers.
▼ Restaurant area entrance
▼ Red box showing restaurant area location
Many of these restaurants are relocated eateries that used to be located inside Tsukiji’s Inner Market. As we poked our heads inside to see who’d made the move, we spotted a familiar sight.
Flanked by two floral displays was the orange-and-white noren awning of Yoshinoya Branch #1, welcoming diners just as it dd for decades in Tsukiji. In a case of history repeating itself, Yoshinoya Branch #1 has followed the fish merchants from Tsukiji to Toyosu, just like how it moved from its original location at the Nihonbashi fish market to the then-new Tsukiji market in 1926.
We were a little sad that the Yoshinoya Branch #1 staff didn’t mention they were moving to Toyosu when we stopped by the Tsukiji restaurant the day before it closed down, but we were happy to see them all the same, and they told us they brought not only the noren, but also several other parts of the restaurant with them to their new spot.
Unfortunately, while the old Tsukiji Yoshinoya was the one and only branch that allowed you to order your beef bowl with the beef on the bottom and the rice on top, that carnivorous treasure hunt configuration is no longer on offer. You can still ask for your beef bowl as “negi daku,” though, which gives you an extra-generous portion of stewed onions and was also a signature dish of the Tsuikiji Inner Market branch.
Some might think it’s a little strange to go all the way to a fish market to eat a beef bowl, but really, it’s the market workers who will probably make up this branch’s most loyal customers. It’s only natural to want a temporary escape from work while you eat lunch, and if you’re surrounded by fish all day while taking care of your professional responsibilities, you’ll probably find yourself craving beef now and again. So for all the fish vendors who’d gotten used to the option of a tasty and mentally refreshing beef bowl for lunch, we’re glad that Yoshinoya Branch #1 has reopened its doors at Toyosu and is keeping the tradition alive.
Yoshinoya (Toyosu Market branch) / 吉野家（豊洲市場店） Address: Tokyo-to, Koto-ku, Toyosu 6-5-1, Suisan Nakaoroshi Ichiba Building 6, 3rd floor, stall 11 東京都江東区豊洲6-5-1 水産仲卸市場棟6街区3階11号 Open 5 a.m.-1 p.m.
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