Tokyo in the morning is eerily quiet and empty. It feels like the entire city doesn’t begin to wake up until 10 am every day. The only exception for a while was the bustling Tsukiji market, which drew huge crowds every morning as fresh seafood came into the city.
You may know Tsukiji as the previous location of Tokyo’s fresh fish market. Before moving to Toyosu in October of this year, Tsukiji Fish Market was comprised of both an outer market filled with fresh seafood vendors, popular for enjoying some of the freshest sushi in the world, and an inner wholesale market where licensed dealers auctioned off the fresh catch of the day.
Today, the outer market still remains, but the wholesale portion has moved to neighboring city Toyosu. As a seafood lover with sadly an inability to eat raw animal products (yes, sushi included), Tsukiji has never really topped my list as a must-visit destination in Tokyo.
This time around, however, we discovered one of Tsukiji’s best kept secrets: Cafe Tsumugi. This modern and airy restaurant is actually located within the Tsukiji Hongwan-ji temple, a beautifully restored Buddhist temple that sits at the edge of Ginza and just a few steps away from the Tsukiji outer market.
Cafe Tsumugi is probably best known for its traditional breakfast set, comprised of 18 small dishes. From 8 am to 11 am, you can enjoy this modern set of delicious bites with a view of the temple’s main hall.
The best things for me about this set? Unlimited green tea refills, congee refills, and no raw fish :)
While you enjoy your meal, you can also try out some of their specialty teas. I opted for the “balance,” a hojicha (roasted tea) with strawberry.
Some of the highlights from the set included a deep-fried eggplant with minced soy beans, tofu bean curd in yuzu sauce, konjac dressed in sesame and tofu, and a delicious matcha jelly to finish for dessert. The congee, miso soup, and 16 side dishes leave you feeling full, but in the best way possible. Clean, light, and healthy.
For those of you who may think of Tsukiji as only a destination to get fresh seafood and sashimi in Tokyo, give Cafe Tsumugi a shot the next time you’re in town! It’s a completely different experience that I wish I could have every morning again and again for breakfast.