Toyosu Fish Market: Hicho Tuna Shop

In Tokyo I had a chance to go to the newly opened Toyosu Fish Market with my buyer, who sources all the fresh fish and seafood that we use in our restaurants. The market is gigantic! Its the biggest wholesale market in the world and much bigger than the old Tsukiji Market.

TUNA market1

There is one shop that I’m particularly interested in visiting. Its call Hicho, and they sell only one thing…TUNA. They are the top supplier of tuna fish to high end restaurants and hotels. The shop started more than 200 years ago, and is now run by Tsunenori Iida, the seventh generation of the family to run the business.

TUNA market2

The shop has three large freezers in middle of the shop, displaying beautiful cuts of tuna, through the glass displays. I quickly spot a gold nugget…Otoro or fatty tuna which comes from the belly of the bluefin. The cost is around US$800/kilo. Beautifully marbled meat is quickly sold and wrapped up while we are still there. Looks like its the last one from the fridge as well!

There are four main types of tuna: Yellow fin, bigeye, south pacific bluefin and bluefin. Bluefin tuna is the most highly prized as, its the fattest and largest of the tuna species, growing up to 3 meters long. They fished from all over the world, Iida explains to me the tuna that he has on display today, comes from Japan and Boston. The bluefin from Japan commands the highest price, and looks massive compared to the other tuna.

TUNA market3

In order to cut the tuna for sale, Iida uses special tuna knives call “maguro kiri bōchō”. They come in varying sizes, the largest one being 150cm long and look like samurai swords! Iida and his two (majordomo) assistant start to carve one of the bluefin tuna fish pulled straight from the fridge. He measures the amount to cut with his fingers, then uses the massive tuna knife to make a single cut, while the two assistants hold down the piece of tuna. The assistants will then wipe down the tuna flesh with wet cloths, cleaning away any blood and preventing any bacteria growing on the meat. The shop is spotless, probably the cleanest fish shop that I have ever seen. If you ever have the chance to visit Toyosu Market, make sure to see quality tuna on sale at Hicho.

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