The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

Tokyo is for lovers…Sushi lovers!

I’ll never forget the first time I visited Japan. I wasn’t a flight attendant yet, I think I was eighteen, and I joined a family member on her Narita layover. I had a little over twenty four hours in Japan and in that time, my culinary desires were to have gyoza and teriyaki. When I think back, I cringe at this because I know how much I was missing out on. Although, I definitely was onto something regarding the idea of consuming as much gyoza as possible while in Japan. But at the time, I claimed to hate sea food. I know, sacrilege coming from a Seattle, girl. Perhaps because I grew up watching men toss around fish at the Pike Place Market, the thought of eating it just never did anything for me.

My culinary experiences in Japan greatly changed during my second visit. That fateful trip to Tokyo changed my life…and my taste buds…forever. Let me tell you how it happened.

My trip to Tokyo by way of NRT (Narita), started off grandly. I was able to get a seat, which for us standby folks is always a good sign. Of course, my Delta crew treated me like a rock star, which on a ten hour flight is so appreciated. I enjoyed cocktails, amazing food and four in-flight movies! Needless to say, I was sleepy, but pumped to explore Tokyo once again.

 

Luv Aviatrix goes to Tokyo via NRT

 

Yay, I’m back in Japan!

 

For this trip, I said that I was going to eat anything and be completely adventurous. Since Japan is an island, they obviously have amazing fresh fish and the Tsukiji Fish Market is famous world wide. So of course, it was my first stop. According to my travel guides, it’s important to get to the Tsukiji Fish Market nice and early. I didn’t necessarily need to see the first catches being brought in, so I didn’t show up before the sun, but I did plan on having an early lunch there and carousing most of the stands before any tourists showed up.

 

I was amazed at all the goods offered at the market, including fresh catches of squid, octopus, and fish I’d never even heard of. I was definitely inspired to pop into one of the Tsukiji Fish Market sushi shops. After all, if anyone could convert me into a sushi person, perhaps it would be Japan. I stepped inside a tiny establishment within the market and felt good about the number of locals that had already come inside to enjoy sushi. A conveyer belt wrapped around the tiny room with plates of beautifully crafted sushi and sashimi concoctions.

 

Tsukiji Fish Martket, The Luv Aviatrix's Guide to the best Sushi in Tokyo, Japan

 

Although nothing was in English, I decided to try everything, even if I didn’t know what it was! I decided my method was simple, grab the pretty sushi plates as they passed by. Although my Japanese was iffy at best, it didn’t matter because the Sushi house was self serve and even included spigots of tea at every station. Just being in this environment was super fun because I’d never eaten at a place like this before!

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

Every plate of Sushi was so beautiful, it was obvious that the Sushi chefs took their time in creating these culinary masterpieces. The beauty in these dishes definitely made me feel brave to try new things and I quickly grabbed my first plate from the sushi belt.

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to the best sushi in Tokyo, Japan

 

 

Since I had always been anti-sea food, I have no idea what fish were on my sushi plate. I was eager to taste one of the mini art pieces though and quickly discovered something…it was amazing! That’s right, I didn’t know what it was, but it was probably the most amazing thing I’d ever tasted. The sushi melted in my mouth as if it had never been whole. That’s how fresh this fish was. Utterly amazing. I was convinced. Sushi, so far, was amazing and I’d definitely be having more than one plate!

Flight Attendant Tip: Although I was a sushi newbie, Japan taught me that traditionally, you’re supposed to eat the entire sushi in one bite. I found this hard believe and impossible at first (there was a very unflattering photo to prove it), but I soon got the hang of it. I definitely understand that by consuming the sushi in one bite, all the flavors are absorbed at the same time. And because good sushi melts in your mouth, the large bite is rendered palatable quite quickly.

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

It took all of my travel courage to take the above plate off the sushi belt, mainly because it had a face. But it was so unique to Japan, almost symbolic as a dish, I just had to. This little guys sacrifice wasn’t in vain and I salivated for moments after finishing this amazing dish, contemplating all I had been missing during my seafood-free life.

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

Above: I still don’t know what this is or what different things are in it…but it was amazing. A trend I noticed eating all this sushi is that every bite melted in my mouth. And despite all my preconceived notions, nothing tasted fishy. I was told later that fresh fish shouldn’t smell “fishy”.

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

Above: This plate ended up being my absolute favorite. The slight sear on top was like the icing on the cake, but um, for sushi. Since I was so Sushi illiterate, I had no idea until later that it was Unagi, also known as Eel! Who knew that this anti-sea food gal from the Pacific Northwest would go to Japan and get hooked on Eel? Not me, but to this day, my go-to date night dinner is Unagi from our local sushi joint. I <3 Unagi!

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

In all honesty, although Tokyo has converted me into a sushi lover, the above dish was the only one I didn’t love. I finished it, but the fish eggs were a bit salty for my taste. I definitely think if you’ve never tried them before, that you should. The texture is very interesting. They’re soft and squishy like Jell-O, but have a bit of a crunch as you bite into them.

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

How Much Will it Cost?

You will be amazed when I tell you that even though this was the most amazing sushi I’ve ever had (and since my first visit I had sushi just about everywhere) the plates of sushi were about $1 US dollar each. Isn’t that amazing? How it works is that different colored plates equal different prices. At the time of my visit, plate started as low as .50 cents. That’s right, you can get one of those beautiful sushi plates pictured for less than a dollar! The most expensive plate I had was $2. That means that the Tsukiji Fish Market has sushi for every budget. Heck, I ate like a queen at this amazing place! Look at all those plates I went through and it was less than $10 USD!

 

For my fellow flight crew, it’s cheaper to fly to Tokyo (including zed fares) and eat at Tokyo’s fish market than to have sushi at some restaurants in the states. No joke, a similar plate to what I got in Tokyo would be $24 USD at Los Angeles Sushi house, Katsuya. For one person to eat there easily racks up to over $100 dollars, and you’ll leave hungry if you’re not rich and famous. On my budget, I can’t even afford to step in the door. For less than $100, flight crew can nonrev to Tokyo and take a train or bus to the Tsukiji fish market area of downtown Tokyo. Even if you need to purchase a zed fare, it’s usually not more than $6o round trip. So why not hop over to Tokyo for an amazing lunch as just fly back? I did 🙂

 

The Flight Attendant's Guide to Japan, the Best Sushi in Tokyo

 

 Final Verdict:The Luv Aviatrix, a flight attendant, enjoys the Tsukiji Fish Market

Absolutely, anyone that visits Japan needs to visit Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market and have sushi while you’re there. Even if you’re like me and think you hate sea food, when I finally gave it a chance, the fresh fish blew my mind. Sushi really is an art form in Japan. Although Tokyo has many different areas to explore, do not leave without experiences the Tsukiji Fish Market. You’ll feel like you’re in a different world! And isn’t that what traveling is for?

So, are you are a sushi addict or are you ready to be converted?

Happy Traveling

XOXO

The Luv Aviatrix

 

 

A Flight Attendant's Guide to the best Sushi in Japan. The Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

 

Ready to plan your trip to Tokyo? My bookshelves would be empty without all my great travel books to get me ready!

 

 

Lonely Planet Tokyo (Travel Guide)


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Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, My Fav Italian Getaway

Cinque Terre

Why Cinque Terre, Italy needs to be on your travel bucket list…

 

Imagine the primordial Ligurian cliffs towering three thousand feet over the Italian Riviera, the pale rock, shining in the sun. Now picture the turquoise waters of the famous Riviera stretching out in the distance, marred only by the tiny glittering reflections of Italian sunshine. Sounds idyllic, right? Add to that amazing landscape, hundred-year old, brightly colored homes built along the cliffs and you have a picture that more resembles more of skittles spilled onto rocks that a present day city. When you are walking the cobblestone streets of Cinque Terre, passing locals selling homemade Limoncello or fresh caught sardines, you have no choice but to be transported.

 

Manarola, Cinque Terre

 

 

Getting to Cinque Terre by Air:

 

     Milan (MXP) is my go-to because it’s close in proximity to Cinque Terre

By Train From Milan: Only about two and a half to three hours by train and you’re at La Spezia, the landing point for Cinque Terre. Train tickets will cost between 9-25 Euros depending on train type. Once you’re in full-on prep mode, check out time tables at TrenItalia.

     Rome (FCO) is a solid choice if you have more time cinque polaroid textand want to see more of Italy.

By Train from Rome: Expect a three and a half or four and a half hour ride, there are some trains that do the trip pretty fast, but it’ll cost more.

No matter where you decide to take the train from, all visits to Cinque Terre begin at La Spezia. Think of La Spezia as the landing of Cinque Terre. You can choose to stay here, but I much prefer to immerse myself amongth the “Five Lands” of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterroso.

 

   Don’t leave Cinque Terre without…

 

Hiking between the five villages of Cinque Terre

My first visit to Cinque Terre was in 2006 and I never took the train once I’d arrived in the first stop from La Spezia. I hiked between every village, working off the fresh pesto I’d consumed with glee. Hiking between the villages through olive groves and along cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Riviera was hardly a chore. Hands down, I think this Cinque Terre hiking itinerary needs to be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Unfortunately, in 2011 there was massive flooding in the area and much of the hiking routes were damaged and is still recovering. Don’t let this stop you from visiting, but definitely check for updates on the popular hiking routes in Cinque Terre before you visit.

Soak up some sun with some amazing gelatocinque terre ice cream

 

OMG. I don’t even know what to say to describe the bliss that comes from homemade gelato on a hot day as one gazes out at the Italian Riviera. Truly, it’s a memory I’ll never forget. As a matter of fact, I probably had more than one a day my entire trip. Even flavors I don’t normally like, I LOVED! I call this Cinque Terre treat, Vitamin G 😉

 

 

 

Fish with the locals, or at least watch ;)Vernazza, Cinque Terre

You can’t be a local, but you can just sit back, relax and partake in the relaxed way that Cinque Terre locals get things done. Every day at sun rise, head to the harbor at Vernazza, grab a slice of pizza or a gelato, and cop a squat and watch the fisherman reel in their trophies. Don’t miss out on the cat’s that also flock to the harbor for their dinner as well.

 

Eat your fill of fresh Ligurian pesto!

The moment I stepped off the train in Riomaggiore, Italian men were offering to make me dinner. No kidding. Any woman that has been to Italy will believe me. Farther south, Italian men will offer to make Bolognese. In Cinque Terre, the men of Liguria will make you pesto-from scratch. I took my new friend up on his offer of a home cooked dinner and I was not disappointed. I watched Georgio use a mortar and pestle to hand grind together all the fresh ingredients. I promise you that dinner was amazing, but also, that every where I ate in Cinque Terre, food was prepared by locals with the same care. Maybe it’s the fresh ingredients, but everything in I consumed in Cinque Terre was amazing. I highly recommend the pesto pizza!

 

Still not convinced?

Here’s another glimpse into my past adventures in Cinque Terre

 

cinque terre italy cinque terre cathedralcinque terre olive grove

 

Cinque Terre Kittycinque windows

 

 

Now that you’re convinced you need a vacation to Italy, Cinque Terre perhaps, you’ll need some in-flight reading to leave you inspired…Recognize the cover? Yep, That’s Cinque Terre!

 

Beautiful Ruins

The story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel (Kindle Edition)


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*This is an affiliate link which means I get commission for referring it, but I promise it’s an amazing read and guaranteed to transport you to the Italian Riviera if my post didn’t do the trick 😉

Or how about a Roman Time Travel romance? Read my review here.

Love, Eternally (Book One of the Roman Time Travel Series 1) (Kindle Edition)


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So have you been to Cinque Terre, tell me how much you loved it! The Luv AviatrixIf not, what areas of Italy lave you craving a getaway?

XOXO

The Luv Aviatrix

 

P.S. Unfortunately, more recently Cinque Terre has seen an alarming increase in tourism due to cruise ships docking near by. This is bad timing since they were already trying to recover from devastating landslides and Cinque Terre is getting a reputation for disliking tourists. I say, travel there on your own, not with a cruise, and make an opinion for yourself. During the times that I have been there, and friends even recently, have said that locals are still welcoming if you are humble and respectful of the land and damage that has been done by large crowds in these tiny towns.  This is an important message that all travelers should keep with them anyways, no matter where they are.