Minshuku Aozukashokudo 民宿 青塚食堂, Otaru

While researching on food options in Otaru, a photo of grilled fishes skewered on sticks and placed next to a bed of glowing red charcoal caught my attention. Immediately I went to find out where was the photo taken. That’s how I came to know of Minshuku Aozukashokudo.

Most tourists on day trip to Otaru probably focused their activities within the main Otaru canal area. However getting to this far-flung eatery without driving meant that we had to spend an additional travelling time of 25 mins on bus from the JR station in Otaru. If you like aquariums, you can also check out the Otaru Aquarium which is located in the vicinity.

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As we approached the shophouse unit which is located by the coast, I instantly recognised the scene that prompted me to hunt down this place. So this freshly grilled herring would definitely be on my order. The Grilled Herring set (¥2000, S$25) included appetizer sides, scallops and octopus sashimi and clam soup. Other than the slightly charred skin, the flesh of the fish was nicely grilled. We absolutely loved the tasty and firm texture of the fish.

For the other set meal, we opted for the tantalising ikura/uni don set priced at around ¥6500 (S$80). For this set, the staff informed us of the pricing when we placed our order. We were not disappointed when we saw the size of the rice bowl! And they had filled it fully to the brim with bright orange uni and red ikura!

We also ordered a few grilled items such as scallops and whelks. Here’s a closer look at the amazing ikura/uni don.

Besides the prized don, we also tried the Grilled Abalone that cost ¥5000 (S$60). Similarly the staff had informed us of its price when we ordered the item. Actually from the menu photo, we had mistaken this as Oyster therefore we asked for it to be grilled. Otherwise we would have had it in sashimi form… Nonetheless the grilled abalone was chewy, succulent and totally worth the money! I think its quite impossible to get abalone this fresh in Singapore for the price we paid.

We left the restaurant with a damage closed to S$200 but the point to note is they do not accept credit card. Therefore have sufficient cash on hand if you wish to order other premium items on the menu.

Although this eatery is located slightly outside of the main Otaru town, we were glad that we made our way here for a satisfying meal, away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy Otaru centre.

Earlier photos taken:

The few landmarks in Sapporo city – Sapporo Clock Tower, Sapporo TV Tower and the former Hokkaido Government Office Building.

With impeding opening of the Sapporo Snow Festival, there are ice sculptures all around town and food stalls along Odori Park.

After spending the morning in Sapporo city, we made our way to nearby town of Otaru. Otaru is only 30 mins by rapid train from Sapporo and there is a Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass that only overseas visitors can purchase – you are required to show your passport at time of purchase.  Holders of this pass enjoy unlimited rides on JR Hokkaido trains between Sapporo and Otaru for a day (though I wonder who would take multiple rides in a day?) and unlimited rides on all subway lines in Sapporo. As 2 cards are given, one for JR train ride and one for subway, the 2 cards can be used on separate days.

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Although the trains run frequently between the 2 stations (one train every 15 mins interval), I was stunned by how packed the train was! While reading up on the train ride to Otaru, we were advised that the trains offer ocean views on the right-hand side halfway though the ride. I would say you are damn lucky if you could even get a seat!!! We boarded the local train, which would take 45 mins to get to Otaru instead of the rapid train which only takes 30 mins, thinking that perhaps it would be less crowded. We stood for the whole journey in the cabin which was cramped with train-load of tourists.

When the scenic view appeared on the right side of the train, I could hear the passengers’ gasps while marveling at the ocean horizon. With one hand holding onto the overhear grab handle, I attempted to take a shot using my only free hand making use of the gap between 2 passengers in front of me – finally got a decent shot after a few attempts…

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And here are the JR Station stamps from Sapporo both featured the Clock Tower.

Not forgetting the one from Otaru which unfortunately had a bald patch in the centre as the stamp itself was flattened.

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