When talking about towns on Hokkaido's coast like Otaru and Kushiro, you can't miss the seafood. Their sushi and seafood rice bowls are completely different from those in Tokyo. Here are some Hokkaido restaurants where you can have the kind of splendid meals that can only be found in the countryside.
1. Kushiro Washou Ichiba: Kattedon
Walk just one minute from Kushiro Station and you'll find the public wholesale market, Washou Ichiba, where you can eat "kattedon". It's a dish that's been featured on TV many times. "Katte" means "one's way" and "don" is a rice bowl, so "kattedon" is a rice bowl you create to your liking. This market is full of shops where you can buy fresh seafood, souvenirs, and enjoy the famous kattedon. When you go to eat kattedon, first you find shops that have the mark for "rice" on them and you buy white rice. Next, you go to shops that have the mark for "don" on them and buy your favorite seafood ingredients. You can have them place your seafood on top of the rice and pay for what you chose. There is a wide variety in the shops that have the mark for "don". Depending on the restaurant, the ingredients, amount, prices, and flavors can all vary. It's best to properly compare the restaurants and purchase from as many different shops as possible. Being able to eat kattedon while enjoying the liveliness of the market is a special treat. For people that like seafood, please enjoy making your own kattedon.
2. Umiaji Hachikyo Main Branch: Ikura no Tsukko-meshi
Umiaji Hachikyo in Sapporo is said to be the restaurant that uses the greatest amount of ikura (salmon roe) in the world. This restaurant mainly uses seafood from the roughest seas in Japan off the coast of Rausu, Hokkaido to create meals that are called Rausu gourmet. Their specialty is Tsukko-meshi (1,990 JPY (incl. tax)), made with fresh ikura caught by fishermen working the Rausu waters that struggle together to bring up their nets. The huge amount of ikura and the large-sized rice will completely fill you up even if you order the regular size. However, please be sure to note that the restaurant requires you to eat every last grain of rice if you order this dish. This might be a good challenge for those of you big eaters!
3. Uni Murakami Hakodate Main Branch: Mutenka Nama Uni-don
"Something that you must eat when you stop by Hakodate is Murakami's Mutenka Nama Uni-don (4,000 JPY (excl. tax) for a regular size). Usually, alum is added to raw uni (sea urchin) so that it won't fall apart. If too much alum is added, then the uni gets the astringent taste of the alum and the uni's natural flavor and sweetness disappears. Because of this, Murakami refuses to use alum in their uni. Because they were originally the store for an uni processing company when they opened in 1955, they know which is the best uni for the season and are sticklers about offering additive-free uni. That uni is greatly trusted even in Tokyo's Tsukiji Market, and many high-class sushi restaurants and traditional Japanese restaurants get direct shipments of it. This uni has a rich sweetness and a distinct melt-in-your-mouth texture, and this restaurant extravagantly uses uni in original dishes in only a way a specialty shop can, so they have many repeat customers. This is the place for people who want to get their fill of delicious uni! *Photo is for illustration purposes"
4. Otaru Masazushi Main Branch: Masazushi Takumi
Otaru Masazushi, in Otaru's Sushi Street, is a well-established shop that has continued to protect the taste of Otaru sushi. It's a popular shop not just with sightseeing travelers, but it has firmly-rooted popularity with the locals. On the 1st floor, there are counter seats where you can watch the sushi chef create sushi one by one right before your eyes. On the 2nd and 3rd floors there are private rooms where you can take it easy with your family or in groups, as well as tables. The best recommendation for the counter seats is the takumi (5,400 JPY). It's a set of 12 sushi pieces using the best representatives of Hokkaido ingredients. You'll definitely be satisfied both in heart and in appetite! This is a great place for people that want to have a peaceful sushi meal with their families.
5. Kaitenzushi Nemuro Hanamaru JR Tower STELLAR PLACE Branch
Kaitenzushi (conveyer belt sushi) Nemuro Hanamaru is a chain restaurant that's concentrated in Hokkaido but has 7 branches nationwide. They carefully select the fish that are in season and offer local seafood from the Nemuro Port. Their dishes start at 140 JPY (incl. tax), and their menu is huge with 100 dishes including soups and service a la carte. It's a conveyer belt sushi restaurant but the taste is excellent, and it's popular with tourists that want to try the seasonal ingredients from Nemuro. They usually have 7-8 types of rare dishes like gunkan sushi made with hanasaki crab, in-house salted salmon roe pickled in soy sauce, sushi toppings that can usually only be eaten in Nemuro, and more. It's very reasonably priced so let's stop by! It'll satisfy you whether you're alone or with your family.
These are some of the dishes you should definitely try when you go to Hokkaido. The northern Japanese waters are teeming with delicious seafood. Make sure to eat some when you go!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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