Sasue Maeda Fish Store, Japan’s No. 1 fish store that makes no compromises

Sasue Maeda Fish Store, Japan's No. 1 fish store that makes no compromises

Japan’s best fishmonger in one of the nation’s leading fishing ports

Yaizu City in Shizuoka Prefecture is home to the Oigawa Fishing Port, where shirasu (baby sardines) and sakura shrimp, which can only be caught in Suruga Bay, are landed; Yaizu Port, a base for pelagic fishing, where bonito and tuna are mainly landed; and Ogawa Port, where coastal horse mackerel and mackerel are landed, which collectively boast some of the largest catches in Japan. Sasue Maeda Fish Store, a fish shop located a two-minute drive from the Yaizu Fish Port, is constantly crowded with local customers from the moment the store opens. The store has a wide selection of products and inexpensive prices, as one would expect from a port town. The fifth-generation owner, Naoki Maeda, is “the best fishmonger in Japan” and has earned the trust of top chefs.
His customers include Naruse (Shizuoka City), a famous tempura restaurant that attracts gourmets from all over Japan, Sushi Yoshitake, a three-star Michelin restaurant, as well as NARISAWA, Den, Kiyama, Sushi Shikon (Hong Kong), and many other famous restaurants in Japan and abroad.
My mother carried me on her back and gave me fish fillets whenever I was hungry, even before I can remember. Whenever I was hungry, my mother would give me fish fillets on her back. Of course, I never put soy sauce on them. Perhaps it was because of this that I learned the true taste of fish. To this day, the most delicious fish I ever tasted was the octopus sashimi I had in kindergarten. Even now, I only eat fish. I want to sell only what I think tastes good,” says Maeda.

Facing fish with your life

In the spacious backyard, Maeda-san spends all day long processing fish and shipping them domestically and internationally. The fishmonger’s job is not only to buy fish and then sell them. We look at weather maps to predict where and what kind of fish will be caught, and we figure out how the fishermen caught the fish and the best way to handle and preserve them. For example, the stress on the fish can vary depending on the way the reel is wound. How to deliver the fish to the restaurant or to the customer’s table without stressing the fish. I think it is my job to think about that,” says Maeda.

I also calculate what happens after the fish arrives at the restaurant. “How and when will the fish be prepared and served? I try to assess the condition of the store’s refrigerators and the skill of the chefs. I don’t just want to sell fish; I want to provide delicious fish by looking at the other side,” says Maeda.
Mr. Maeda is called “the best in Japan” because of his superb technique. He quickly places a large flatfish, which is still jumping around, on the cutting board, and in no time at all, he has the fish live-tightened, drained of blood, and cleanly filleted. After sprinkling a little salt on the fillets on the cutting board, the fillets began to move jerkily, as if they were sweating, and began to drain water. This process removes the smell of the fish and allows us to enjoy the fresh taste. Not only is it tasty, but it has a long aftertaste. How to handle the fish, how much salt to sprinkle on it, and how much moisture to retain are all things I have to judge with my five senses. If I take a day off, my senses become dull and it takes me three days to get them back. That’s why I can’t take a day off. I am working with nature, so I can’t give 100 points every day, but I always want to be that way. Such words do not seem exaggerated. People in Yaizu who have such a fish shop in their neighborhood make me very envious.


Sasue Maeda Fish Market (main store)
4-10-31 Honcho, Yaizu-shi, Shizuoka
TEL 054-628-8228