Sear-iously Delicious: Aburi Hotate Don (JAPAN RAIL CAFE Monthly Menu)
Hokkaido (北海道), the northernmost main island of Japan and its largest prefecture, is renowned for its pristine waters and exceptional seafood. Take a gander at any poster, brochure, or video advertising the attractions of Hokkaido and its abundant seafood is guaranteed to take the spotlight. Besides other washoku (和食 Japanese cuisine) heavyweights such as bluefin tuna and hairy Alaskan crab, one of the largest exports of Hokkaido seafood are hotate (ほたて), also known in English as scallops!
(Image credit: photoAC)
Plump, juicy, and freshly harvested daily, you can always tell a Hokkaido jumbo scallop from its contemporaries by its distinctive sweet taste and prodigious size. Especially in Eastern Hokkaido, deep beneath the icy Sea of Okhotsk, the scallops get to thrive on an abundance of plankton which grow beneath the drift ice, which the local fishermen claim is the reason for the distinctive sweet flavour.
Where to visit for the freshest Hokkaido scallop cuisine?
1. Hakodate Morning Market
Only the freshest catch at Hakodate Morning Market. (Image credit: photoAC)
Located a stone’s throw from JR Hakodate Station (函館駅 Hakodate-eki), the Hakodate Morning Market (函館朝市 Hakodate Asaichi) is the largest fish market in all of Japan, boasting over 200 market stalls and stores selling everything from freshly-caught seafood to locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Open from the crack of dawn and bustling with visitors every day till noon, there are fewer better places to satisfy your cravings for fresh Hokkaido scallops!
Hakodate Morning Market (函館朝市)
Address: 9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido, 040-0063
Nearest station: JR Hakodate Station (函館駅)
Access: 2-minute walk from the station
Opening hours: 06:00–14:00 (January–April), 05:00–14:00 (May–December) (Timings may vary from store to store）
2. Otaru Canal/Sankaku Market
Otaru Canal and a seafood bowl from Sankaku Market. (Image credit: photoAC)
The port town of Otaru (小樽) is a favourite destination for day trip travellers from Sapporo City (札幌市 Sapporo-shi) due to its ease of access and beautiful canal area which twinkles in the winter night. A proximity to the ocean also means a proximity to fresh seafood, and a large number of fish markets and seafood restaurants can be found sprinkled all throughout Otaru. Sankaku Market (三角市場) in particular is quite popular with visitors due to it being close by Otaru Station (小樽駅 Otaru-eki), and along the way to Otaru Canal.
Otaru Sankaku Market (小樽三角市場)
Address: 3-10-162 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-003
Nearest station: Otaru Station (小樽駅)
Access: 3-minute walk from the station
Opening hours: 08:00–17:00
Drift ice in Abashiri and Robatayaki style of cooking seafood. (Image credit: Abashiri City Tourism Association)
The Sea of Okhotsk boasts one of the largest scallop catches in Hokkaido, and it is said that the town of Tokoro (常呂町 Tokoro-chō) next to Abashiri City (網走市 Abashiri-shi) is where scallop harvesting aquaculture first began! In this quiet, unassuming corner of the world, fishermen employ a variety of methods to sustainably grow and harvest scallops in the nearby Lake Notoro (能取湖 Notoro-ko), and thus Abashiri scallops are large with a distinctive umami flavour. The Abashiri way is to grill the shell whole over a charcoal barbeque, but there are many places you can enjoy it as a sashimi as well!
Abashiri Banya (網走番屋)
Address: 6-8-2 Minami 4 Johigashi, Abashiri, Hokkaido 093-0004
Nearest station: JR Katsuradai Station (桂台駅)
Access: 13-minute walk from the station.
Opening hours: 08:00–21:00 (Timings may vary from store to store）
Available from 1–30 November, only at JAPAN RAIL CAFE Singapore!
Here’s something we can’t bring ourselves to hate–hotate! (Image credit: JAPAN RAIL CAFE)
Feeling a rumbling in your tummy after this mouthwatering article? Then you’re in luck, because for the month of November you can satisfy your hotate cravings right here in Singapore without having to fly all the way to Hokkaido!
The Hokkaido scallop is featured in JAPAN RAIL CAFE’s November Monthly Menu as the key ingredient in our Aburi Hotate Don! A twin serving of two different types of scallop on top of a bed of rice and tamagoyaki, the jumbo-sized scallops are lightly seared and smothered in mentaiko mayonnaise while the smaller ones are steamed and set aside a sprinkle of spring onions and tobiko. Every bite of the Aburi Hotate Don is a celebration of the fresh seafood of Hokkaido!
The Aburi Hotate Don ($24++) is available for dine-in at JAPAN RAIL CAFE Singapore only, from 1–30 November 2023, while stocks last.
JAPAN RAIL CAFE
Address: 5 Wallich Street #01-19/20 Singapore 078883
Nearest station: Tanjong Pagar MRT
Opening hours: 11am–9pm (Monday–Thursday), 11am–9:30pm (Friday–Saturday), 11am–8pm (Sunday)
Header image credit: JAPAN RAIL CAFE