Otaru is a small town that is only an hour train/bus ride from Niseko. The first thing you should do when you get off the train, is pay visit Sankaku Market for fresh seafood. Turning left from the main exit, it’s just a few steps away from the station. It was our first stop when we went to Otaru for a day trip from our ski resort this March.
Otaru….Only 10 stops away from Niseko 🙂
Entrance to Sankaku Fish Market
The market has a lot of fresh fish and seafood to choose from various stalls, and ooooh yes….sushi and sashimi. Everything looked tempting, as tempting as raw fish can be if you ignore the scent of fresh kill. Actually, it was the cleanest and least stinky wet market I’ve ever been to.
One can buy fresh and dried seafood products of all sorts.
I swear, these octopus tentacles were as big as my arm.
My favorite: SALMON.
Towards the middle of the market, there are a number of small “shops” to order sashimi rice bowls, which I think is one centrally-owned restaurant. We had lunch there, and everyone was eager to try the uni (sea urchin roe), scallop, and salmon over rice. The rice bowl was good, but not too big in size. Otaru is known for sea urchin, while the salmon is imported, so naturally the sea urchin was the best part of the dish. The scallop was also very tender and sweet.
Menu to select your rice bowl…the prices were not too bad, especially for salmon
Salmon, scallop, and sea urchin rice bowl (8.5/10)…the sea urchin is a 10/10!
Salmon Belly (8/10)
We also shared one hairy crab, which is another famous offering from Otaru. After selecting our crab from any of the stalls (they have different prices), you can arrange for the main restaurant shop to cook and serve it to you while seated. I think all the stalls are owned by different people but they all have connections to the main single restaurant.
The hairy crab was EXCELLENT. They simply steam it, but the flavor is all there because the crab is so fresh. They cut every piece nicely, so you can easily access the crab meat with no effort. The roe within the belly area was actually creamy and delicious. Sharing between 2-4 people is good for a taste, and won’t fill you up too terribly. If you try any of the other types of crabs (king crab / snow crab), they tend to be bigger but also really good. The hairy crab has a special different flavor to it that I would recommend trying.
Our crab before we cooked and ate it….VERY BUMPY 😀
Hairy Crab (10/10)
Look at this CRABMEAT!
Overall, a visit to Sankaku Market is A MUST if you come to Otaru. The rice bowls are a good deal and you can actually get a pretty cheap meal here. If you do have the funds, be sure to eat a lot of sea urchin and the hairy crab.
~~Overall Experience: 9/10~~
Address: 3 Chome-10-16 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture 047-0032, Japan
Hours: Daily 8:00am – 5:00pm
Cost (per person): 1,200 yen / $10 (and up if you buy crab)
Date Visited: 3/1/17