For fresh, good and cheap sushi, you can't go far with Endo Sushi, located at the Osaka Central Wholesale Market. This venerated sushi joint has a history spanning 100 years and is a favourite with locals. The location can be a little out of the way for most travellers as it's not located near any tourist attraction or shopping district.
But it makes for a worthwhile trip to start your day right with platefuls of fresh, delectable sushi. Do take note that the staff hardly speaks any English, save for the affable owner, who speaks at most, a smattering of phrases such as "Set?" (to enquire if you're having the sushi set, which comes with tea, miso soup and sushi), "More?", and "Where are you from?". You get the idea.
The sushi comes served as a mixed plate of 5 different types. The chef takes note to change the variety of sushi with each new plate ordered, keeping only the toro (tuna belly) consistently available on each plate. Each plate costs ¥1000 (approx USD 9, SGD 13). The sushi is served slightly different from what we were used to, as the rice was still warm (apparently a testament to the popularity of the sushi. To meet the orders, there is simply no time for the rice to cool.) and there is no wasabi (grated horseradish) available on the tables, only soyu (soy sauce which you apply with a brush. It's communal, so the "no double-dipping" policy applies here) and gari (pickled ginger).
Eating the sushi becomes a fun challenge as each new plate of sushi gets stacked on top of the emptied plates, letting you keep count of the number of plates, hence the number of pieces you've devoured. We noted that every other diner ate a minimal of 3 plates each. At this point, my travel companion, having enjoyed his sushi so much, joked that he would ask the owner what is the most number of plates anyone has eaten at one sitting, so he could issue a challenge to top that number and leave his mark on Endo Sushi (and possibly have his picture taken and framed up on the wall, alongside that of the Japanese celebrities).
After much wild gesticulation to communicate our question across, we received the answer from the owner: 30 plates. The ravenous culprit in question? A sumo wrestler. Needless to say, my travel companion wisely forgo his proposition.
Endo Sushi Restaurant is located near the car park to the left of the Central Wholesale Market. It's about a 10-minute walk from Noda Station on the JR Loop line. It's also accessible via subway on the Sennichimae Line, exit Tamagawa station. The market can be a little tricky to navigate, but you can do what we did and pop into a hotel or police station along the way to ask for directions (please carry a map and it'll probably help to note down the hiragana characters of Endo ゑんどう寿司 and the kanji name of the Central Wholesale Market 中央市場).
Address: 1-1-86 Noda, Fukushima-ku.
Opening hours: 5am to 2pm (closed on Sundays).
Picture taken from www.endo-sushi.com, showing the Market façade and the location of Endo, indicated by the red arrow.