Being almost completely enclosed by the ocean, Hakodate City is well-known for its exquisite seafood offerings. These include local specialties such as Makonbu (a type of Konbu, or Japanese kelp) or Toi-maguro (tuna from the nearby fishing town of Toi). For this reason, many visitors to Hakodate choose to eat nothing but seafood – all day long. With that in mind, the first spot you need to visit when arriving at Hakodate Station is the Hakodate Morning Market. A stone’s throw away from the station, more than 150 shops sell a variety of fresh, seasonal seafood and vegetables. Furthermore, there are also a variety of shops offering Kaisen-don (seafood rice bowl) made with freshly caught squid or abalone, making it a great spot for lunch as well. For dinner, we move towards the Honcho area, which is the natural downtown of Hakodate. Here, you will find Sushidokoro Hiroko, where you can enjoy a truly spectacular Sushi dining experience. Their signature dish, Ogonyaki (lit. golden grill), features an assortment of locally sourced wild sea urchin, abalone, and salmon roe. Each dish is prepared individually before being served in unison, with the name coming from the golden color the dish assumes from the sea urchin. If after all this your appetite for seafood still is yet to be satisfied, have another Kaisen-don at the hotel the next morning. For example, at the La Vista Hakodate Bay, breakfast consists of all-you-can-eat Ikura-don, a rice bowl topped with salmon roe. As you can probably tell by now, Hakodate is all about seafood – so if you do make it here, make sure to take advantage of all the city’s ocean-based culinary offerings.
Hakodate Morning Market
The Hakodate Morning Market has its roots as a street market all the way back in 1945 when farmers would sell their fresh produce in front of Hakodate Station. Today, there are more than 150 stores selling fresh seafood such as crab and salmon in addition to vegetables straight from the farm. The name is game here, as goods often sell out the closer it gets to lunchtime. Therefore, it is highly recommended to come as early as possible to see the full array of goods on display. In 2014, the market’s symbol, Oshima Dome, was renovated and reopened as the Hakodate Morning Market Square. In addition, a food court where you can enjoy grilled squid or fresh juice was also added.
9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Right next to the Morning Market and just a couple of steps from Hakodate Station, the Donburi Yokocho Market is a food alley featuring numerous shops that serve the ubiquitous Kaisen-don, or seafood rice bowl. One spot that is definitely worth a visit is Ikkatei Tabiji. Typically for Hakodate, here you can enjoy a wide variety of the freshest sashimi topped on steaming hot local rice. Two of their most famous dishes are the Ike Ika Odori-don, literally dancing squid bowl, and the Renge-don, meaning lotus flower bowl. The former will set you back 1,890 Yen, while the latter comes in at 6,800 Yen (prices are without tax). The Ike Ika Odori-don features a squid that is served straight from the in-house water tank. Once soy sauce is added, the squid “dances” as the muscles react to the sodium in the sauce. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! On the other hand, the Renge-don is an extremely decadent offering, consisting of 10 different seafood types, including abalone, shrimp, and sea urchin.
Hakodate Morning Market First Commercial Cooperative Association.
9-15 Wakamatsu, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Hakodate Kaisen Kaijyu
At around a 10-minute walk from Hakodate Station, the Izakaya Hakodate Seafood Kaijyu is another conveniently accessible treasure trove of local seafood specialties. The first thing that will jump out at you when you walk through the door is the massive display of fish tanks that stretch out through the entire interior. These feature a large assortment of live seafood, including flounder, squid, and octopus. You can therefore order your fish straight from the tank, after which the chefs will prepare it to your liking right in front of you. An order of boiled idiot fish will set you back about 5,980 Yen, while the grilled fresh abalone costs 2,850 Yen (all prices before tax). As you can probably already tell, the local restaurants are trying to outdo themselves in serving only the freshest of fish – and this unique Izakaya definitely fits the mold.
24-6 Toyokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Preferred by locals with a keen taste for the real deal, Sushidokoro Hiroki is the place to go if you are looking for a full-fledged Sushi dining experience. A 1-minute walk from the Goryokaku streetcar stop, it is situated in the de-facto downtown core of Hakodate, the Honcho area. The restaurant features both a Sushi Master as well as a Sake Sommelier, ensuring the perfectly prepared Sushi is complimented with just the right Sake. Their signature dish, Ogonyaki (lit. golden grill), features an assortment of locally sourced wild sea urchin, abalone, and salmon roe. Each ingredient is prepared individually before being put together, with the name coming from the golden color the dish assumes from the sea urchin. Specifically, the urchin is steamed, the abalone is boiled, and the roe is grilled before being served in unison, creating a harmonic taste that cannot be achieved by simply serving the ingredients raw.
Hotelmystays 2F 26-17 Honcho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
La Vista Hakodate Bay
Located very close to the famous Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, the hotel La Vista Hakodate Bay is the perfect spot for exploring the bay area of Hakodate. It is noteworthy for being named Hokkaido’s best hotel breakfast for 7 years in a row. At the in-house restaurant Kita No Bancha, you can live it up by enjoying fresh, local seafood every morning. The signature dish is the Ikura-don, a rice bowl topped with salmon roe. The service is in an “all-you-can-eat” format, meaning that the staff will top your rice with as much fresh salmon roe as you could possibly want.
12-6 Toyokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido