Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Otaru, Hokkaido

Otaru is a harbour city about half hour train ride north-west of Sapporo. It reminds me of KK, our home town but of course, a much cleaner version. It has a beautiful canal lined by old warehouses.
This has now become one of my favorite cities in Japan which you will later find out why. On this Hokkaido trip, this place was the only destination we visited twice for a very specific purpose. So glad we didn't follow a tour group.

These buildings used to be warehouses but are converted into stylish cafes and restaurants. The canal was used by barges but now is just a scenic tourist attraction.

One of the many artists displaying and selling his version of this canal.

He featured every season of the canal.

These medieval looking couple blended in perfectly with the surrounding. They were plying some intricately hand-made bicycle models in wire.

And this young man who so obliging posed for me,

works one of these trishaws for tourists who don't like to walk.

Met this couple who travel in style. Note the sizes of the bikes. His and hers Harley's?

We found this place quite by accident. After walking around the city and thought we had seen enough we headed back to the station area. Right next to the left of station was a 100 yen shop and we thought we'd take a look. Then something else caught our attention a few meters away...
We saw this entrance to a market place and as you know, we can never walk away from any market place without getting a sniff of the food stuffs.

This was what awaited us in this small one lane market. We hit mother lode of seafood!!!!

These and...

These...We were like children let loose in a candy store when we saw these endless glorious seafood.

Dried scallops

Dried seaweed

Live oysters, clams and more...

Scallops! 11 pieces for 1000 yen, less than 100 yen each.

Every stall we passed offered these yummy tasting stations.

Then we spotted these swimming in huge tanks.

This is THE reason we came to Otaru twice. No, not because of Betty, it was that crustacean she was holding. Hokkaido famous king crab.

This one cost 5000 yen which translated to ~ Rm180 and worth every single sen/yen. They are best eaten plain boiled.

This has to be the best crab meat I have ever had in my entire life. Sweet with a touch of sea saltiness, succulent, firm and of a smooth texture. It was the dish I dreamed about the whole time when we were traveling around Hokkaido.
So, on the day we were to leave Sapporo for Tokyo, we headed here again for another feast. Knowing that we may not be back here again for a long long time we sampled almost everything there was on display.

This stall has only two dining tables.

This was what we had in this heavenly market beside the king crab...

Grilled scallop was very good but...

Sashimi scallop was even better. Every morsel was a fresh crunchy sweetness and a to-die-for taste of the sea...

Another two different crabs we tried. Both were good but nothing compares to the king crab in flavor and texture.

But I love these roe found in this red spiky crab.

A lesson in cracking open a crab. The shells of these are unlike those of our water. They are much thinner and softer, so much easier and faster to get to the meat.

Smoked fish marinated in wine.

Don't know the name of this fish but it was the best grilled fish ever. It had a texture very much like frog meat but creamier.

It looked like this before it was cooked. Its dorsal fins open out like wing.

Hubby saw this post in the making and decided this is THE place in Hokkaido he most wanted to visit...I have offered to be his tour guide!


Precious Pea said...

Drooling (seriously I am)!!! Look at those crabs!!! Hokkaido..my dream holiday destination!!

terri@adailyobsession said...


a feast, everyday said...

P pea n terri, pls say i can be ur guide when u go to Hokkaido. I am very good at catching trains...

Ms Alex said...

Those crabs look amazing, I love markets for investigating and exploring!

starr said...

omg i'm really drooling, even until now while typing these comments, hix so yummy i wanna cry >.<

daisyfused said...

i also want to go!!!!!!!!!!

frank said...

Just came back from a medical screening result yesterday. Doc says I am rather healthy...except my cholestrol is over the roof (and in the sky), my liver is foie gras :(.
So I must for a couple of weeks feast my eyes only and not my stomach. Keep the posts coming Jo, You're one of my few windows to good eats :-)

a feast, everyday said...

Starr, NZ seafood r good too.

Frank, exercise, exercise and exercise - the only way to beat cholesterol and you don't hv to stop eatng :p