Indulge in Hokkaido's culinary delights as we take you on a gastronomic journey through the historic port town of Otaru. Known for its delectable local cuisine, Otaru offers a wide array of fresh seafood and mouthwatering desserts.
From the bustling Sankaku Market to the charming shops along Sakaimachi Street, prepare to satisfy your taste buds and sweet cravings. Join us as we explore must-try restaurants and eateries near popular landmarks such as Otaru Station, Minami-Otaru Station, Otaru-Chikko Station, and the picturesque Otaru Canal.
Along the way, we'll also recommend nearby sightseeing spots, allowing you to feast both your eyes and your palate. Get ready for a delectable journey through the flavors of Otaru!
Main image: PIXTA
List of Popular Otaru Foods
Seafood Rice Bowl (Kaisendon)
True to its seaport town origins, Otaru is famous for its fresh and tasty seafood such as tuna, salmon, scallops, abalone, crabs, and whatever else you can think of. An exotic fare of chewy mantis shrimps and sweet-tasting sea urchins come especially recommended by us. For those who want to have it all, order a large seafood rice bowl as it will be topped with a wide variety of different seafood sliced into bite-sized chunks for easy consumption. Simply step into one of the tourist-friendly stores near the picturesque Otaru Canal and along Sakaimachi Street, or go directly to Sankaku Market for the freshest fish Otaru has to offer!
As one of Japan's most globally recognizable local food, tourists to the island nation often seek the authentic sushi experience on home ground when they land in Japan and visitors to Hokkaido are no exception. Since seafood is the main ingredient of this dish, you can be sure that there are plenty of eateries in Otaru for you to take your pick of fresh sushi from. Simply look no farther than Otaru Station and Otaru Canal to find a bewildering array of sushi restaurants that will serve your needs well and beyond. You may also wish to consider visiting the Otaru Sushi Street, where you'll find famous local restaurants like Fukuzushi, Waraku Kaiten-Zushi, and Masazushi. You can't possibly go wrong with the sushi of Otaru, and as a bonus, all of them are extremely reasonably priced as well!
This is an interesting dish where a plate of fried soba is covered with seafood-based sauce before being served. It was popularized by Otaru's Chinese cuisine restaurants in the late 1950s. The chewy noodles and savory sauce go extremely well with cuttlefish, clams, or shrimps and the robust taste experience they come together to provide will leave you wanting for more from the first bite. Most ankake yakisoba can be enjoyed for less than 1,000 yen so don't forget to add it to your list of must-try regional comfort foods on your next trip to Otaru.
This classic Japanese favorite may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of vacationing in Otaru, but it's worth looking out for all the same! Hokkaido is a productive land that is home to many nutritious resources, and ramen soup stock made from local Rausu kombu or bonito flakes is subtly divine without being overpowering. This greatly enhances the flavor of your ramen of choice, whether it be salt, miso, shoyu, or something else. Many ramen stores such as Mahoro have been around for ages and their well-honed recipes and historic decor is an experience that simply can't be had anywhere else. If you're a fan of ramen, you don't want to be missing out on the Hokkaido version of this special treat!
Hanmiage (Deep-Fried Chicken)
One of Otaru's foremost comfort food, the hanmiage chicken is first cut into half, marinated, then slowly fried over a low temperature until a perfect shade of gold. It looks unconventional but is crispy on the outside while juicy on the inside. Your first bite will doubtlessly leave you quickly wanting to keep going. This dish was created by Wakadori Jidai Naruto, an old-time restaurant established in the year 1952 and has remained popular with locals since its introduction. Try the hanmiage for something different whenever you're in a mood for something that may remind you of home!
Sweets: LeTAO, Kitakaro, Rokkatei, etc.
Plenty of popular confectionery brands have chosen to set up shop in Otaru. The world-famous LeTAO cheesecakes even originated from Otaru itself! As such, you'll probably find a branch store or two at every other corner you turn. A quick look at the pastries they have available will leave your mouth watering: classic cheesecakes, milky soft-serve ice-cream, chocolates, cheese Danishes, and much, much more! Each branch store also features a limited edition specialty product, so those truly passionate about their pastries will want to plan to hit as many different branches as possible. As for Kitakaro, the shop made its name for its amazing cream puffs and baumkuchen, so don't forget to drop by if you're a fan of those! Rokkatei features popular rum and raisin butter cream sandwich cookies as well as chocolate cheesecake biscuits and exclusive soft-serve ice-cream flavors. Remember to leave some space in your stomach before coming down so that you can try as many delicious snacks as possible while you're here!
Did you know local Otaru beer is quite a treat as well? Brewed with organic malt, hops, and local mineral-rich Otaru water, then enhanced with different types of fruits, the result is an exquisitely mellow and refreshing drink that looks and tastes premium. If the beer-making process interests you, check out Otaru Warehouse No. 1, a renovated historic warehouse located along Otaru Canal that's currently being used as a brewery and restaurant. Brewery tours are held here and you can enjoy freshly brewed Otaru beer with Bratwurst sausages and other side dishes in the restaurant immediately after your tour. An efficient way to maximize your time here for sure!
Otaru Food Guide by Area
1. Otaru Station and vicinity
As the main gateway to Otaru tourism, Otaru Station is a short walking distance away from popular hotspots like Otaru Canal and Bank of Japan Otaru Museum. This also means you'll get access to plenty of good food without needing to step aboard any vehicles.
The best place to start in our opinion is the Otaru Sankaku Market, a busy center for fresh food, dried goods, sashimi, and all manners of seafood products.
Topping ingredients for rice bowls like tuna, urchin, and fish roe will be prepared on demand for full freshness and the mixed seafood rice bowl is a must-try for those wanting the most variety in their meals. You haven't eaten at Otaru yet if you haven't eaten at Sankaku Market!
Closer to the station, you'll find plenty of popular Japanese food as well, like the ubiquitous ramen.
Isezushi, a Michelin star restaurant is another place to consider if you're in the mood of sushi.
Craving for something different and more homegrown? Look out for any shops selling local fare like ankake yakisoba and deep-fried hanmiage chicken, or simply walk into the restaurants that they originated from - Chinese Dining Keien for ankake yakisoba and Wakadori Jidai Naruto for hanmiage.
If you're still stuck, take a walk down Denuki Koji, a food street with a distinctively olden decor theme that features Japanese-style bar food, robatayaki (charcoal grill), tempura, and more! At night, the street is lit up with dazzling lights that add a special flair to the entire area. Bonus: It's a great backdrop for pictures for your social media page!
Food is not the only thing that can keep you busy in Otaru - there are many other things to see and places to go in the vicinity of Otaru Station.
Head down to the nearby Otaru Canal for a romantic stroll, visit historic rail tracks at the site of the former Japan National Railways Temiya Line on Sakaimachi Street, or take unique and memorable pictures featuring the classic Western architecture of the Former Otaru Branch of NYK Line and the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum.
Nature lovers will love the charming Mt. Tengu and the ropeway that brings you to its peak.
While on the way up, you'll be treated to a fascinating view of Otaru framed by the surrounding sea and greenery.
And if you happen to be there at just the right time, you may even encounter the mystical natural phenomenon of unkai, or sea of clouds hovering around. At night, the glittering lights of the town below are like twinkling stars dotted across the dark veil of a night sky.
Only by seeing this sight in person will you truly be able to understand why Mt. Tengu has been listed as one of the top three night views of Hokkaido! This is a great place for anyone to wind down after a day of busy sightseeing and food hunting.
・Ramen and stir-fried noodles
Recommended food and attractions around Otaru Station
2. Minami-Otaru Station / Otaru-Chikko Area
Minami-Otaru Station is just next to Otaru Station. It's also the closest station to the entrance of Sakaimachi Street, one of Otaru's most popular tourist destinations.
If you're mainly concerned about being able to hit all the famous pastries shops in town, like Rokkatei, LeTAO, and Kitakaro, as quickly as possible, then it may be more time-saving to set off from here instead of Otaru Station.
In fact, the LeTAO flagship store is just a quick 7-minute walk from Minami-Otaru Station, its iconic clock tower located just across the road from Marchen Intersection. This is also where you can find the Otaru Music Box Museum, Stained Glass Museum, and other interesting places where you can peruse and buy exquisite Otaru handicraft home as souvenirs.
The intersection is also located at the edge of Sakaimachi Street, so if you keep walking, you'll pass by LeTAO, Kitakaro, Rokkatei, and many other well-known store names before finally hitting Otaru Canal at the other end of the street.
Otaru-Chikko Station is one stop after Minami-Otaru. There are fewer tourists here compared to Minami-Otaru, but the large shopping mall directly connected to the port is a convenient place for you to rest and look around. The nearby Grand Park Otaru is a waterfront hotel that is the top choice of accommodations for many vacationing here as well.
Once you step out of Otaru-Chikko Station, you'll see the Wing Bay Otaru department store, home to several homegrown Japanese brands such as Muji (home and household goods), Nitori (furniture and decor), ASBee (shoes).
Being able to get their household and fashion needs covered in a single location may appeal to those who are big on efficiency and convenience. Better yet, there's an AEON supermarket in the building as well, and if you spend more than 5,000 yen combined, you may qualify for a tax refund!
While you're there, take a walk around the gourmet street to find something that tickles your fancy before heading up to the observation deck to let the peaceful sight of the vast sky and sea outside melt your worries and troubles away. You're on vacation, after all!
Food to try around Minami-Otaru Station and the Otaru-Chikko Area
2022 Foodie Update
Brand new product at Fromage Danish Dani LeTAO - Danish French toast!
Fromage Danish Dani LeTAO at Otaru is a cheese Danish specialty store that has been serving up delectable Danishes to long lines of hungry customers since 2018. In June 2022, the shop introduced a brand new product for foodies to relish - a limited edition Danish French toast made with the dough used for the shop's signature cheese Danishes, brushed with egg wash whipped up from a mixture of local Biei milk and eggs from Ishikawa's poultry farms - both premium quality ingredients. The toast is then covered in caramel and left to bake in the oven. The rich fragrance that the toast gives off adds to its flavor and enhances the eating experience by leaps and bounds. You can also add a scoop of ice cream to the toast if you like, or a subtle dash of strawberry cream.
Fromage Danish Dani LeTAOフロマージュデニッシュ デニルタオ
- Address 6-13 Sakaimachi, Otaru Town, Hokkaido 047-0027
- Phone Number 0134-31-5580
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. (subject to seasonal changes)
Closed: Open daily
3. Otaru Canal & Port Marina
In between Otaru Station and Otaru Port is the town's most famous sightseeing spot, the Otaru Canal.
Historic buildings and architecture line both sides of the canal, the most recognizable of which is the row of olden brick warehouses that look great in pictures at any angle.
Otaru Warehouse No. 1 and Otaru Times Garten are restaurants that operate from within these renovated warehouses. Having a drink in one of these buildings is a good way to contemplate the passage of time as you take a little break from your day's activities!
Another shop worth a mention is Sushiya Kodai, a sushi store located right by Otaru Canal with an eye-dazzlingly huge selection of sushi dishes. You're guaranteed absolute freshness in any conveyor belt sushi bars in the area as well. It's difficult to go wrong with seafood in a bustling port town!
Other interesting things to look out for here is the sightseeing boat that runs along Otaru Canal, Otaru Canal Plaza, and the Otaru Taisho Glass Palace, a glassware specialty store that features interesting glass souvenirs and trinkets.
Since they're all in close proximity, you can feel free to visit any of these places before or after a meal.
If you've ever been to Shin-Chitose Airport, you've probably passed by the popular Kamaei snack store and maybe bought a souvenir or two from there. Guess what? The shop has a factory located right here in Otaru with a direct sales outlet as well! Now you can get the freshest kamaboko (fishcake) and satsuma-age (fried fishcake) right from the source with all sorts of flavors. Taste testing is allowed so you can decide on the one that suits your palate the most before making your purchase.
Food to try around Otaru Canal & Port Marina
2022 Foodie Update
Ryugetsu Otaruto: The hottest Hokkaido souvenir brand and its flagship Otaru store
Have you ever heard of or perhaps received a Hokkaido Sanporoku baumkuchen as souvenir from family or friends returning from their trips? This innovative confectionery is the original product of Ryugetsu, a oldtime pastry store located in Tokachi Obihiro. Chocolate is used to decorate the surface of the cake, giving it a bark-like appearance that resembles the paper birch tree. Inside, the cake is wholly made from Tokachi wheat flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and other locally sourced ingredients. The freshness that results has gained it many fans from all over the world. In April 2022, Ryugetsu opened a direct sales outlet store in Otaru with a comically bold and eye-grabbing Sanporoku baumkuchen bench right outside the main entrance. Sanporoku baumkuchen is not the only pastry you can purchase here, of course. Keep a lookout for the muscat glass jellies and red bean o-tarts, both exclusive products of the Otaru branch! The shop also offers ice-cream with unusual flavors such as Tokachi vanilla and Tokachi red bean. I hope you've been taking notes, sweet tooth!
- Address 3-18 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closed: Open daily
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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