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Must-Try Food in Otaru!

Must-Try Food in Otaru!

Update: 9 August 2018

Otaru has many popular streets evoking a nostalgic past. The view of the canal at night is romantic and a sight one must see, but equally memorable is the fresh seafood. The Otaru Canal, Canal Warehouses, and Otaru Aquarium are major sightseeing spots around which you can find several places serving excellent seafood. When visiting Otaru you really must try the many dishes offered from seafood bowls to seafood chanpon (mixture of two or more different ingredients), all made with the freshest catches from the sea. Here are some places where you can do that.

Shop specializing in seafood dishes at reasonable prices
No. 1: Kaisendonya Otaru Posei-don Sakaimachi Sohonten

Shop specializing in seafood dishes at reasonable prices
No. 1: Kaisendonya Otaru Posei-don Sakaimachi Sohonten
The retro exterior is eye-catching. In addition to tables with chairs, there is also a section with cozy low-level tables for sitting on the floor which in Japanese is called koagari

Many sightseeing spots are clustered around Sakaimachi-dori and the Kaisendonya Otaru Posei-don is one where you can get seafood bowls and grilled main dishes at reasonable prices. Close to the Otaru Canal, it is the perfect place to take a break for lunch or dinner when sightseeing.
Many types of seafood caught in the sea near Otaru are displayed at the counter and one of the pleasures is to watch experienced chefs preparing dishes before your very eyes as you wait for your order to be served. Enjoy watching grilled dishes prepared and then served with a flourish on a large rice paddle to customers at the counter. There are also tables and a kids’ room so this is a place where families are welcome to come and enjoy themselves.

The Kaisen Tobikko-don (540 yen) – a bowl of rice smothered with tuna, salmon, and flying fish

Unga-don [Canal Bowl] (540 yen) and Kaisen Tobikko-don [Seafood and Flying Fish Bowl] (540 yen) are among some of the reasonably priced items on the menu. These seafood bowls are luxuriously heaped high with the freshest ingredients. The most popular of these is the Posei-don – 9 different types of fresh seafood heaped on bowl of white rice. This dish also comes with teppojiru (miso soup with crab meat) and Japanese pickles on the side, all for only 2,268 yen.

The Posei-don (2,268 yen) laden with 9 types of neta. The sea urchin and sweet shrimp are especially tasty in summer!

Other popular dishes are the Oyako-don consisting of salmon and salmon roe (1,188 yen) and the Yokubari Kaisen-don (1,620 yen), a bowl adorned with several kinds of neta. The menu also includes fried scallops (540 yen) and the extra-large overflowing dish of grilled mackerel (1,620 yen), as well as other grilled dishes full of flavor.

  • Kaisendonya Otaru Poseidon Sakaimachi sohonten
    海鮮丼屋 小樽ポセイ丼 堺町総本店
    • Address 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町4-9 / Sakaimachi,4-9, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0027
    • Phone Number 0134-61-1478

    Hours: 11:00 AM ~ 7:00 PM (last order 6:30 PM) ※ prices are seasonally adjusted
    Closed: only during the end of year and New Year’s holidays
    Access: 10-minute walk from the JR Minami Otaru Station

Every imaginable type of fresh seafood managed directly by a popular sushi shop
No. 2: Kaisen-ya Yoshi-don

Every imaginable type of fresh seafood managed directly by a popular sushi shop
No. 2: Kaisen-ya Yoshi-don
The shop is only open for lunch between 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM (last order 3:00 PM)

The Kaisen-ya Yoshi-don, directly managed by a popular sushi shop, is famous for the flavor and size of its seafood bowls. Located a short walk towards the canal from the Otaru Sushiya-dori, it is easily accessible from Otaru Station and sightseeing spots.
You either sit at the counter or at Japanese-style seating on tatami mats in the rear in the relaxed atmosphere of this shop, a perfect place to stretch your legs after a bit of sightseeing. As a rule it only operates during the lunch hour, but if arrangements are made in advance, it is possible for banquet courses to be prepared with assistance given by local customers. The seafood dishes use only the finest quality fish from a first-rate sushiya which are sure to please even the most demanding gourmet.

Using ingredients carefully selected by the sushi shop that directly manages it, this shop boasts bowls heaping with ingredients on beds of rice prepared with specially made red vinegar. The best-selling item on the menu is the Hokkai-don, a bowl overflowing with crab, salmon roe, and of course sea urchin (3,500 yen). The sea urchin is so delicious it melts in your mouth! Two more popular dishes are the Yoshi Tokusen Kaisen-don (2,500 yen), limited to only 15 servings per day, and the Bikkuri-don (5,000 yen) which contains a variety of surprising ingredients of the finest quality, as your eyes will testify.

The Yoshi-don “Extreme ” - A collection of all-star seafood ingredients including abalone, button shrimp, sea urchin, and crab (3,000 yen)

In addition to the seafood bowls, the menu includes several other tasty dishes made from fresh seafood such as the Atka Mackerel Set Lunch (1,500 yen); grilled squid (800 yen), and grilled Ezo abalone (3,000 yen). These large bowl dishes are noted for their flavor and volume and are a delight to the eye as well as filling and satisfying.

  • Kaisenya Yoshidon
    海鮮や よし丼
    • Address 〒047-0026 北海道小樽市東雲町2-2 / Shinonome-cho,2-2, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0026
    • Phone Number 0134-29-5151

    Shinonome-cho,2-2, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0026
    Closed: not set
    Access: 10-minute walk from JR Otaru Station

A famous diner operated by a fisherman overflowing with genuine hospitality
No. 3: Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudo

A famous diner operated by a fisherman overflowing with genuine hospitality
No. 3: Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudo
Savor the fresh seafood caught by local fishermen

The Aotsuka Shokudo is operated by a local fisherman in the Shukutsu area, a section of scenic spots spread along the Sea of Japan. This inn is popular for the fabulous views from dawn to dusk of beautiful Shukutsu. Herring is charcoal-grilled in front of the shop, the enticing aroma filling the air.

Inside tables and koagari (floor-seating) can accommodate 100 people which give you an idea of its spaciousness. It has a simple atmosphere typical of a diner in a fishing town, one that is warm and relaxing. There are popular nearby sightseeing spots offering spectacular views of the area such as the Otaru Shukutsu Panorama Observation Deck, Nishin Goten (Herring Palace), and the Otaru Aquarium which are definitely worth visiting.

It is located only a 15-minute car ride from Otaru Station, but there are other ways to get here such as by a sightseeing ship that leaves Otaru Port and skirts the beautiful Otamoi Coast arriving at Shukutsu Port. On some days you can even see pods of dolphins swimming alongside the boat!

Herring being grilled over a bed of charcoal in front of the inn, filling the air with an inviting mouth-watering aroma

This is a diner directly operated by a fisherman serving the finest catches of the day and prepared either as sashimi or grilled. Shukutsu is blessed with abundant herring catches and the herring being cooked over charcoal at the entrance are served in the famous dish called Tokudai Nishin Yaki (Special Large Grilled Herring) that costs only 990 yen. The set lunch, Tokudai Nishin Yaki Teishoku, of charcoal-cooked herring costs 1,390 yen and Nishin Soba (herring in soba noodles) costs 1,200 yen. These are just some of the many herring dishes offered.

While Hokkaido is famous for herring, there are also many other kinds of dishes made with seafood from the nearby sea. Summer is the season for sea urchins, Atka mackerel, hakka (sailfin poacher) and other fish in which Otaru takes pride.

Grilled fish (your choice of either herring or mackerel), seasonal sashimi, and raw sea urchin – the Horyo Teishoku (3,240 yen)

Popular bowl dishes on the menu are Nama Uni-don (bowl of raw sea urchin) [price depends on availability], Ikura-don (bowl of salmon roe) [2,380 yen], Kaisen-don (fresh seafood bowl) [2,998 yen], prices possible because the diner is operated by a fisherman. If you want to taste the most delicious fish caught at the right time, then we recommend the Sashimi Moriawase (combination of slices of different kinds of raw fish) [starting at 2,160 yen] comprised of the season’s best neta.

The sweet flavor of raw sea urchin is a summer treat. Otaru sea urchin is generally caught between the middle of May through the end of August each year,
  • Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudo
    民宿 青塚食堂
    • Address 〒047-0047 北海道小樽市祝津3-210 / Shukutsu,3-210, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0047
    • Phone Number 0134-22-8034

    Hours: 10:00 AM ~ 8:00 PM (last order 7:00 PM)
    Closed: no set schedule
    Access: 15 minutes by car from Otaru Station; 5-minute walk from Otaru Aquarium

Succulent seafood offerings such as crab, shrimp, and scallops
No. 4: Unga Ramen Akari

Succulent seafood offerings such as crab, shrimp, and scallops
No. 4: Unga Ramen Akari
Inside there is a buffet restaurant and shops offering an excellent selection of Hokkaido dishes

The Otaru Unga Shokudo located along the Otaru Canal is a commercial complex situated in a historical stone warehouse and home to a number of shops offering Hokkaido cuisine. One such shop tucked away in a corner is the Unga Ramen Akari (Canal Ramen Light). This cozy shop has an old-fashioned diner atmosphere with a counter that can seat 10 and four tables able to seat four people each. It may not be spacious, but the atmosphere is relaxing and the food delicious.

An eye-catching red noren reminiscent of an earlier time

The ramen is made from 100% Hokkaido wheat. The soul food of Otaru is ankake yakisoba (fried noodles covered with a thick sauce) and is a menu staple. This is local dish that satisfies the discerning palates of local residents.

Meibutsu Hama Champon in a heavy seafood broth

Meibutsu Hama Champon (1,670 yen) is a dish especially popular with local residents and one you really should try. The soup broth is salt based and made with dried adductor muscles of shellfish and dried shrimp. This clear, mellow soup brings out the deep flavors of the crab, shrimp and other plentiful fresh ingredients.

Otaru Kaisen Ankake Yakisoba served piping hot and full of bean paste and seafood. A dish guaranteed to fully satisfy you

The Otaru Kaisen Ankake Yakisoba (1,530 yen), fried noodles in a thick sauce mixed with large portions of seafood, is another dish popular among Otaru residents. Mix the noodles fried to a golden color together with the warm sauce. For crab lovers we recommend the Kani Miso Ramen (crab butter ramen) that goes for 2,780 yen. This soup is made with white miso and has king crab and snow crab for ingredients, and is topped off with kani miso (crab butter).

  • Unga Ramen Akari
    運河ラーメン 灯
    • Address 〒047-0007 北海道小樽市港町6-5 / Minatomachi,6-5, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0007
    • Phone Number 0134-24-8002

    Hours: 11:00 AM ~ 7:00 PM ※ Times are subject to change
    Closed: never
    Access: 10-minute walk from JR Otaru Station

The four shops introduced above are great places for enjoying fresh seafood dishes. They are perfect places for taking a break from your sightseeing to enjoy lunch or dinner. Otaru has more to offer than just the beauty of its historical buildings, so when you come, we highly recommend you sample the delicious seafood cuisine, too.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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