Make sure to skip breakfast for the most amazing and affordable sashimi set lunch to be found in Tokyo. Firebird is a small sushi bistro nestled in one of the many modest buildings in the quiet neighbourhood of Toyocho - but the food is far from ordinary. For a mere 800 yen (USD $7.80), you can get a giant bowl of maguro (tuna) sashimi that will satisfy any sashimi-lover’s cravings for at least a month.
This lunch-only deal has officially been dubbed maguro morisugi don (literally “rice bowl with too much raw tuna” - as if that were possible!). Orders are not taken, because everyone is obviously there for the super lunch deal. The key is to come in as small a group as possible, because each group receives only one platter of tuna sashimi to be shared. The shocking picture of the mountain of tuna on RocketNews24’s feature article was clearly a bowl for one person. In addition to the generous portion of fresh tuna, somewhere in the bowl is an equally liberal serving of flavourful seasoned rice, along with 3 sides of tofu, a salad and a bowl of miso soup. I was shocked to discover that when (or if) you finish your meal, you may even request for an extra serving of rice, free of charge! It is no wonder that Firebird has become such a popular lunchtime dining option amongst the hungry and thrifty.
The restaurant's website claims serving over 200 customers daily, and with the limited seating available (capacity is around 26 persons at a time), it is essential to arrive early to beat the crowds. Lunch begins at 11.30am, but from my experience in April, there was already a short line from 10.30am - and that was on a weekday. The queue extended to the streets by 11am, hence I would strongly recommend an early arrival if you hope to be in the first batch.
I remember smiling in pure satisfaction as I left the restaurant after 30 minutes of my glorious sashimi dining experience, much to the envy of the famished customers still waiting in line. In a nutshell, I can only repeat here what I said in reply to a Japanese teenager who asked me how it went: 美味しかった、いただきます！(“Delicious! Bon Appetite!”)
To access, drop off at Toyocho Station (T-14) on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. Take Exit 2 and the restaurant is just a 5 minute walk away.