Everybody in Japan knows Choshi City in Chiba Prefecture. Famous for seafood, it’s just a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Tokyo. It has boasted the largest seafood catch in all of Japan for the past three years in a row, hauling in 21 tones per year.
I’ll introduce you to the best of Choshi City’s gourmet seafood, popular among tourists and locals alike.
Off to the town of tasty seafood!
Amazing Tuna and Kinmedai (Snapper) at the Renowned Restaurant Kyuroku
Choshi has three wholesale seafood markets, selling sardines, sanma (pike), mackerel, bonito, kinmedai (golden eye snapper), tuna, flounder, and more, all brought in through Choshi Bay. It’s home to one of the most prominent seafood landings in Japan.
Of course, there are many shops in the area dealing in seafood, but my recommendation is Kyuroku, a long established restaurant, located in front of landing number 1. It’s so popular that people come from far and wide to try the zuke-don, Kyuroku’s specialty dish of true fresh-caught kinmedai or tuna over rice.
It’s open from 11:00AM to 5:00PM, but closes a bit earlier or later depending on the day. By lunchtime a line has usually formed outside, but if you go around the opening time, you should be able to sit down right away. It’s about an 18 minute walk from the station, a nice distance if you’re feeling up for a walk. The restaurant has three parking spaces for those coming by car, but the small size might be a bit tight for larger vehicles. If you can’t find a spot, try the lots at the market or park nearby.
The Most Popular Dish -- Kinmedai Zuke-don
Kyuroku specializes in tuna and kinmedai, with the kinmedai zuke-don at 2,800JPY being the signature dish. If it’s your first time to Choshi or Kyuroku, I highly recommend going with this.
When they bring it out, you’ll be blown away! With so many slices of fish on top, you can’t even see the rice underneath. The fish has a pleasant texture, and there’s just a little bit of sweet seasoning on top.
It comes with wasabi and shichimi (a seven-spice blend). It’s best to try it as-is first, and if you want to change the taste, add something later. The shichimi spice and wasabi go well with the dish, making it even more enjoyable.
Don’t Miss Out on This Either! Thick, Meaty Tuna Slices on the Bincho-maguro Zuke-don
This tuna zuke-don costs 1,980JPY and uses freshly landed tuna. The abundance of thick tuna cuts in this dish are sure to please. This dish comes with wasabi that you can use to flavor it if you wish, but just like with the kinmedai, I recommend that you try it plain first and add wasabi afterwards.
If you order the set menu it comes with miso soup. The broth is made using fish as well, and has a deliciously rich taste.
You’re free to choose if you’d like a regular, medium, or large amount of rice underneath your fish. Regular or medium size is usually just enough for most people. If it’s not enough for you, you can always ask for extra rice in a small cup, so don’t worry.
Not only is the food great; the restaurant experience is enjoyable, too. The service is good, and the other diners chatting and carrying on makes for a good atmosphere. It’s clean, and you can experience dining in a Japanese style room with tatami!
The Addicting Taste of Imagawa-yaki
(Imagawa-yaki are Japanese mufflin-like treats filled with anko [red bean jam], served hot.)
Get off the Choshi Railway at Kannon Station and head out the backside of the station. Walk a few minutes and you’ll be looking up at a five-storied pagoda, belonging to the goddess Kannon. Around here is a shop called Sanoya.
The imagawa-yaki of Sanoya are beloved by locals, who buy them in lots of 10 or even 20 to take home. Sanoya is a well established shop, in operation since 1907.
As you walk in the door, the sweet smell of freshly baked imagawa-yaki lingers in the air, and a perky staff member rushes to the counter to take your order. It takes 7 to 8 minutes to make, and there’s space to eat inside if you don’t want to take it out with you. You can also sit down and have some tea while you wait – they’ll be ready before you know it.
While you wait you can check out the walls, which are decorated with pictures of people making imagawa-yaki and signatures from many famous people in Japan who have visited.
A Little Misshapen, But It’s Easy to Understand the Craze
The fit in the palm of your head, and honestly look a bit strange…
But when you take the first bite, it’s shockingly good!
The dough on the outside has has a great aroma, and there’s so much anko inside that it might spill out. Even so, they’re easy to enjoy because they’re not too sweet!
One costs 140JPY, and they come in two flavors: kuro-an (made from adzuki beans) and shiro-an (made from kidney beans). You can also order the filling by itself. It’s 140JPY for 100g, so you can take it home and try making something sweet yourself.
Of course they’re best piping hot, but if you happen to reside in Japan or will be here for an extended period of time, they also ship them refrigerated across the country. The shells won’t be as hard as it would be if they were freshly baked, but they’ll still smell and taste great. It’s also something good to send to family or friends in Japan.
Even More to Enjoy
Even though I focused on zuke-don and imagawa-yaki for this article, there is of course plenty more to enjoy in Choshi.
“Uosse 21” is one such place. Adjacent to the Port Tower, it’s about 5 minutes drive from the harbor. Inside you’ll find all sorts of fresh fish and food products such as kamaboko (fish paste pressed and steamed into cakes), senbe (rice crackers), soy sauce, and more! The more you explore, the more unusual and delicious stuff you’ll find.
Since it’s only two and a half hours from Tokyo, Choshi makes for a satisfying day or weekend trip. It’s perfect for a family outing or even a date. Eat and stroll as you enjoy all the deliciousness that Choshi has to offer.
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