Monday, April 13, 2015

Seafood Barbecue in Hachinohe

After leaving the onsen resort of Hoshino Aomori-ya, we made a pit stop at Hachinohe, the second largest city of Aomori Prefecture, before continuing our journey south to Morioka. Specifically we dropped by a local market called Hasshoku Center for a casual seafood lunch.

Hachinohe (八戸) is known for its seafood produce, being one of the major fishing ports in the Tohoku region and Hasshoku Center (八食センター) is only one of the many markets in town, selling mainly fresh seafood products coming straight from the port and also other local specialties. There were also a number of restaurants in the vast complex too, and one of the most popular is called Shichirin Mura (七厘村), or Brazier Village.

Well technically Shichirin Mura is not a restaurant per se, as they didn't sell food. Instead, all they provided were a table-top charcoal grill, some tools, utensil and seasonings, and the dining area where you could cook on your own and eat. So yes, it's more like an indoor barbecue site. This is how it worked - you walked in and paid the entrance fee (300 yen per person) and reserved a table. Then while they began to set up your table with everything you need, you could walk around the market and shop for seafood from the many stalls outside.




We started with some shellfish - the clams and scallops and the oysters and of course, the crabs - specifically we picked up a few pieces of king crab legs fresh from Hokkaido. There were so many choices and incredibly cheap - some of them we haven't even seen (for example, something called Sea Pineapple which we were tempted to try). After you picked what you want from the stalls, just tell the stall owner you are buying the food for barbecue and they will clean and cut up for you.



As we carried our tray-ful of fresh seafood back to our table, it's already set up with the grill fired up with red-hot charcoal, ready for action. Cooking them was fairly easy - just placed them on top of the grill and watched as the juice inside the clams began to boil and they began to change from transcluent to a pale color. They were so fresh and tasty that we needed nothing more than a light drizzle of soy sauce as seasonings.


Later on we went out again to get more seafood - this time, it's the whole squid, locally-farmed sea eel, miso-marinated cod and even onigiri (rice ball) and marinated beef that we bought from other stalls inside the market. The place was pretty empty when we arrived slightly before noon, but soon it's filled up with tourists and locals during lunch time, so I would definitely recommend coming early to avoid the crowd and queue for the table. This is also a great place to shop to local food and wine to bring home with - with more than 100 stalls inside the market you could easily spend hours wandering and shopping. If barbecue is not your thing, they also have other casual dining options selling sushi, noodles among other local food.

When? March 23 2015
Where? Shichirin Mura at Hasshoku Center, Kawaragi Ji-shinsai 22-2, Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture
八食センター 七厘村 八戸市河原木字神才22-2
Web:
Hasshoku Center: http://www.849net.com/
Shichirin Mura: http://www.849net.com/map/shop/38.html

(Part of the Japan Rail Trip 2015 Series - a journey through the Tohoku region by rail in Spring 2015)


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