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Enjoy Hidaka cuisines at “Amaya” - Octopus Mabushi-Meshi, lily bulb jam, and Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans!

新ひだか町静内のあま屋

 
“Amaya” is a restaurant in Shinhidakacho Shizunai. Their specialty is “Octopus Mabushi-Meshi” and it’s exquisite!

Was octopus this soft? Did it taste like this? And why is it so delicious! 

 

Table of contents

- “Amaya” in Shinhidaka-cho Shizunai
- “Amaya” is particular about “Hidaka cuisines”
- Hokkaido lily bulb jam
- Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans
- Amaya’s specialty Octopus Mabushi-Meshi

 
 

“Amaya” in Shinhidaka-cho Shizunai

“Amaya” is a restaurant owned by the manager and the chef Hiromi Amano. They provide dishes using local ingredients. 

Not only local people but also people from all over Hokkaido and other areas including overseas crave for Amaya’s dishes and gather here. 

 
ひだか町静内にある「お料理 あま屋」の外観▲“Amaya” is located in Shinhidakacho Shizunai. 
 

Shinhidakacho was born on March 31, 2006, by merging Shizunai-cho and Mitsuishi-cho. Shinhidakacho Shizunai, where “Amaya” is located, was Shizunai-cho before. 
 
It’s about 2.5 hours drive from Sapporo via Hokkaido Expressway and Hidaka Expressway, and about 1.5 hours drive from Shin-Chitose Airport. It became very convenient since Hidaka Expressway (free section) extended to Hidaka Atsuga Interchange. 
 
Drive towards Uraga and Erimo via National Route 235 after getting off the expressway from Hidaka Atsuga Interchange. Turn left on Goko Street which you will see after entering Shinhidakacho Shizunai; then you will see Amaya on your left. Their parking is at the back of the building. 

 

Amaya is thoroughly particular about Hidaka

Hokkaido Likers became to know “Amaya” at the 2018 showcase of “High Graded Food Selection in North (Kita No High Grade Shokuhin S)” selected products, which is held annually by Hokkaido Shimbun Economics department. 
 
22 products were selected, and every product was very Hokkaido-like and attractive. However, we noticed that there was a corporation who won three products out of 22 products! 
Who can win three products at the same time? 

That was “Amaya”. 
 
Below are the three products from Amaya selected as 2018 High Graded Food Selection in North:
- Hokkaido lily bulb jam
- Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans
- Amaya’s specialty Octopus Mabushi-Meshi
の3品。
 
To tell the truth, another product from Amaya, “Pickled Roughscale sole in Saikyo Style”, has been selected as “High Graded Food Selection in North” in 2014. If you add that, it will be four products! 
 
We visited Hiromi Amano, the manager and the chef of Amaya who makes Octopus Mabushi-Meshi, jam, and quatre-quarts (pound cake). 
 

「あま屋」の天野洋海さん▲Hiromi Amano from “Amaya”. He has a broad range of network in the same and different industries. The annual “Ama-Fes”, the thanks fair for fans, is a quite big event which gathers people from all over Japan. It will be held on July 8 for 2018. 
 

Mr. Amano told us: “When I started ‘Amaya’ 15 years ago, I thought I could do in Tokyo, Sapporo, or wherever if it’s an ordinary Japanese restaurant. I thought through what I can do and what is the meaning of doing a restaurant here in Hidaka. 
 
Then one day, a person told him that it might be interesting to provide something all made in Hidaka. That made him decide to make dishes focused on Hidaka. 
 
“I only use local ingredients. If I can, ingredients that were picked within the town. I use ingredients from Hokkaido when I can’t find the ingredient in Hidaka. Amaya is a Japanese restaurant, but I would rather call our dishes ‘Hidaka cuisines’”. 
 
However, locals did not seem to enjoy Hidaka dishes at first. Because to locals, Hidaka kelp was something to pick from the sea. Tomatoes and asparaguses are something they are given from someone. 
 
Locals first thought: “why do we have to pay such expensive money for things we eat daily?”

 
あま屋店内▲Inside of Amaya. It’s very elegant and calm. 
 

However, those who actually had Mr. Amano’s dishes admitted the taste and enjoyed very much. Everyone was satisfied with the deliciousness. Then Mr. Amano thought he should make people from outside of Hidaka try delicious ingredients from Hidaka. 
 
Over the time, people who live in cities like Sapporo and Obihiro who heard reputations of “Amaya” started to visit the restaurant as regular customers. It spread to overseas, and now Amaya has regular customers from various places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. 
 
“After we got customers from outside of Hidaka, locals started to visit the restaurant. They were curious why we have so many customers from different places.” 
 

「あま屋」の御幸通りに面した出入口側にはカフェコーナー▲There is a cafe area near the entrance of Amaya facing Goko Street. 
 

Mr. Amano says: 

“I always work on how to make dishes that will surprise and delight the customers. To do that, I do not have to do something special and new. It’s such hard work to create something from nothing, right? (smile)” 
 
“I add a new value to something existed already from what I think every day. Like, something it’s okay if it’s not there yet would be nice if there is. By doing that, I raise the value of products, and if I can restore that to the community, I can vitalize the area. That’s what I think every day while making Hidaka cuisines.”
 
 
Adding new values to something existed naturally turns into something good to the local community, and it becomes the trigger to vitalize the area. That’s precisely the same as Hokkaido Likers! Let’s keep working hard for Hidaka, and Hokkaido together! 

 

“Hokkaido lily bulb jam” was for kelp deep-fried bread

The deep-fried bread which kneads Hidaka kelp appears as an appetizer for the dinner course in Amaya. The lily bulb jam was made to attach to that deep-fried bread. 
 
“I love Raffles Singapore’s jam called ‘Kaya’ which is made with coconut milk, egg, and sugar. I first thought maybe I could make it with lily bulbs.” Mr. Amano told.  
 

北海道百合根ジャム▲Hokkaido lily bulb jam is 800 yen. Ingredients are all from Hokkaido except coconut milk (made overseas). He can produce only 100 to 200 bottles because it’s homemade. 
 

However, lily bulbs have a certain smell when it’s cooked in a large portion, and also crumbly textures. So he added coconut milk, which is used in Kaya also, and it created a nice smell and deep flavor. Lily bulbs turned into a tasty jam.
 
Many customers asked him if they can purchase the lily bulb jam for souvenirs when he was using it as an attachment to deep-fried bread. And he turned into a product in summer 2014.  
 
You can use it for bread, of course, but also attachment to meat dishes or sauce. 

 

“Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans” is a pound cake with plenty of red beans

“quatre-quarts” is a French term meaning four 1/4 = 4/4, and it’s a pound cake. In fact, “Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans” were, like lily bulb jam, one of the dishes in the course menu of Amaya.  
 

北海道カルト・カールあずき▲Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans is 2,800 yen. It’s limited to 50 boxes per day. 
 

“French courses provide two desserts in the end, right? Like that, I wanted to create a luxury dessert which makes people satisfy in the end by having a bite.”
 
“Hokkaido quatre-quarts red beans” were made in the collaboration project with a pound cake specialized store in Iwamizawa, which he met at the “Food School” hosted by Hokkaido. Hokkaido produced red beans were literally stuffed in the dough made with Hokkaido flour. 
 
When I had a bite, I could not figure out if I were eating red beans or a piece of pound cake. Red beans had such a strong impression! And it goes very well with coffee because he uses coffee powder in the dough.

 

“Amaya’s specialty Octopus Mabushi-Meshi” has extremely soft octopus! 

Let me tell you this first. “Amaya’s specialty Octopus Mabushi-Meshi” is delicious! Very, very pleasant! Please bring me one more! 
 

あま屋名物タコまぶしめし▲Amaya’s specialty Octopus Mabushi-Meshi is 1,200 yen. * The picture is take away.  
 

Amano told us: “Hidaka is one of the regions with biggest volumes of octopus catches, but it’s not known so well. Even many locals don’t know about it, so I wanted more and more people to know about octopus in Hidaka and try them.” 
 
The rice kind is called “Manbaken” and produced in Hidaka, and of course, the octopus is from Hidaka, and he uses North Pacific giant octopus. 
 
Octopus Mabushi-Meshi was inspired by Hitsumabushi, the local food of Nagoya. You can enjoy a variety of flavors in a dish. First enjoy as it is, then pour dashi soup and put toppings like Ochazuke. 
 
Hokkaido Likers had a bento box version which is available for takeaways. 
 
There were many big pieces of octopus. And those octopuses were extremely soft! 

You will surely be surprised by this softness. It’s probably much softer than most of you imagine. These pieces of boiled octopus should be easy to bite even for small children and elderly with weak teeth. 

Those big, soft boiled octopus wears sweet sauce, then grilled, then put on to rice… This is the happiest moment.

 
あま屋名物タコまぶしめしを俯瞰で見た▲I imagined an ordinary softened boiled octopus, but it was much softer and had extracted the flavor of octopus! The sweet sauce is delicious, too. 

 
Herring roe and pickles are toppings to change the flavor. This is simple but yet exquisite dish which you can enjoy extracted deliciousness of octopus at maximum. 
 
If you ever have a chance to stay in Shinhidaka Shizunai, enjoy Hidaka cuisine entirely for dinner at Amaya. 

If you stop by the area during your road trip, enjoy lunch at Amaya or, it’s safer to make a reservation in advance if you wish to take away “Octopus Mabushi-Meshi”.
 
 

Related Link

- Amaya
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Takako Chiba

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