Nakaminato is a famous fishing harbor in Ibaraki prefecture. There are many sushi and seafood restaurants at the fish market, but I want to introduce and recommend one particular one called “Kaimon”. One of the best among the seafood restaurants there, it boasts a queue of people during the weekends. Inside the place is pretty, the food is arranged carefully and in general this restaurant is popular among women. It is worth lining up to eat here!
"Kaimon" where people line up for a seafood rice bowl
Nakaminato is a typical fishing harbor in Ibaraki prefecture and the sushi and seafood restaurants at the fish market are busy every day. For those visiting the market, the most popular thing to do is to eat seafood rice bowls which uses freshly caught seafood! Really delicious. “Kaimon” is located in the middle of Nakaminato’s fish market. The service is fast, so even with a queue there is no need to wait long.
Kaimon’s crowdedness really depends on the day, but on weekends even a long queue (with 10 pairs of customers) will only take about 30 minutes of waiting. During weekdays there are more free tables. So don’t be discouraged about the lines - it will only be a short wait! Now let me introduce the recommended seafood rice bowls.
"Gofuku" seafood rice bowl, the most popular item on the menu
The most popular item on the menu is “Gofuku” seafood rice bowl (1600 JPY/14.2 USD). It contains 5 great delicacies: maguro tuna, squid, salmon, scallop, and salmon roe! The balance between them is very good: the maguro tuna and salmon provide just as much fat as necessary, the melting sweet scallop and squid, and the restaurant’s specialty – salty roe. Undeniably delicious.
One can see the obvious freshness of the products from the clear color of the squid! Those who want the best seafood rice bowl should order this one! There is also a popular item among the regular customers – “Maguro steak rice bowl” (1680 JPY/14.95 USD). This is belly meat from maguro tuna done medium rare with a special sauce over rice. In fact many people come to Nakaminato just to eat this maguro steak rice bowl, so it is often sold out before noon during weekends. Those who want to try should go early to avoid disappointment!
A must try! The instantly delicious "Shiromi san-kyodai"
“Gofuku” and “Maguro steak” rice bowls are recommended, but the “Shiromi san-kyodai” one is a also a must-try (1600 JPY/14.23 USD). Although a specialty of the restaurant, it isn’t included in the popularity ranking. But! It is so delicious that you won’t regret ordering it.
The white meat used for the sashimi differs depending on the fish catch, but it’s generally a combination of 3 fish among the following: tai (sea bream), hirame (flounder), hobo (red gurnard), kampachi (greater amberjack). There is also shirasu (whitebait). One way to enjoy the bowl is with soy sauce and wasabi. The moment you try the odorless, white sweet fish piece, you immediately discover how very delicious it is.
A second way to enjoy "Shiromi san-kyodai"
After your finish half of the bowl, you can eat the rest as chazuke (a Japanese dish where you pour tea over rice)! A bottle of broth will be served, so you pour it over the rest of the fish and eat it as chazuke. Such a stylish way to consume the dish, you usually don’t find in other places.
The broth is ideal for the white fish and has a gentle exquisite taste. So delicious that you can eat many bowls at once. Also, it doesn’t feel like the same rice bowl you just had. Only “Shiromi san-kyodai” can be eaten as chazuke, so definitely try it. Every year in summer a seasonal “Hiyajiru” (cold soup) rice bowl is included in the menu. It is a superb dish which uses local fish and cold soup. (Ask the restaurant about when they have it)
Try iwagaki oysters after you meal! Or fried sea urchin, or shrimp, or steamed crab...
The amount of the rice bowl is neither too much, nor too little. For an additional 100 JPY (0.89 USD) you can also enjoy clam miso soup to accompany your meal. If you want to try something additional, you can walk (and explore the market) and eat. There are many delicious things to find in Nakaminato.
June to September is the iwagaki oyster season! You can get a soft cooked oyster with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Extremely delicious! There are also fried sea urchins, fried shrimps, steamed crabs – so many nice things that you will get confused about what to try first. The seafood at the market is fresh and inexpensive, therefore ideal also for a souvenir. There are some rare and big fish as well, so even walking around to find them is fun.
To Ooarai after you finish eating
Let’s digest after eating a lot by walking to the nearby beaches and outlet parks! Within 5 minutes by car from Nakaminato you can find many touristic spots in Ooarai. Beaches, Ooarai outlet park, Ooarai aquarium, Ooarai marine center, Kamiiso shrine and others are just some of the places to enjoy with your family and friends. Let’s go to eat seafood in Ibaraki!