October 08, 12 | Hokkaido Likers
Located in southwest Hokkaido, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you can find some of Japan's best clams in the port city of Tomakomai. I recently visited the "Sea Station Port Market" to get a taste of the delicious catch.
Divided between two long buildings you can find many grocers and fish shops. Spread out in this narrow market are also specialty shops, local dried fish shops, and boxed lunch set shops. To be honest the market seemed more like a local kitchen than a business place. While I walked around I was able to get an interesting look at the local foods of the area.
In the various cafeteria areas I was surprised by the wide range of dishes that used the area's specialty item, clams. There were sushi plates, rice bowls topped with clams, fried dumplings, curry, ramen, and more!
Let me show you a few of the dishes you can find.
First, I ordered a fried rice dish from "Tonkotsu-style Ramen Chamizumi." The owner explained to me, "If you cook the clams for too long, they get very hard and chewy. So it is important to really keep an eye on them and get the timing just right!" As soon as I took my first bite of fried rice, I did notice that the clams had a softer texture to them than I’d had before, and were much sweeter than I expected.
▲ The owner of "Tonkatsu-style Ramen Chamizumi," Mr. Kazuaki Arisaka. (Right) "Clam Fried Rice" - 780 Yen. (Left)
Next up is the unique taste of "Clam Curry Croquette" from the shop Healthy Croquette. Inside the potato based coating is a deliciously thick clam curry sauce. The taste the curry spices really bring out a range of flavors in the clam.
▲ "Clam Curry Croquette" - 250 Yen each. A mellow taste on the first bite, but with a spicy aftertaste! A "White Cream Clam Croquette" is also available for 180 Yen.
My last choice was a case of "Clam Balls." They look just like the Japanese treat "Takoyaki", or "Octopus Balls", but the taste is completely different. The sweetness of the clams really stands out and the taste is complimented by a home-made sauce.
▲ "This taste takes about a year to prepare, but I'd like everyone to be able to enjoy it." says Mr. Akira Yamada. (Right) Three flavors of "Clam Balls" are available, including original herb-mayo. (Left)
▲ 2nd generation shop worker, Ms. Eiko Takahashi. At this shop the fresh vegetables were cheap and absolutely huge!
▲ "Tomakomai has some of the best fish and best clams in Japan!" exclaimed president of Yamamoto Fisheries, Mr. Hideyuki Yamamoto. "If you visit us, you'll get a taste of some truly delicious clams for sure!"
▲ I bought some clam for the ride home. They opened it up right in front of me at the shop and explained the best way to prepare dishes with it.
After walking all around the market, I was left feeling surprised at the quality and thought that went into the menus. Also, of course, at the amazing taste of fresh clams!
“Sea Station Port Market” is located only 30 minutes from New Chitose Airport by car, or one hour from the center of Sapporo. If you visit Hokkaido in the future, be sure to stop by and check it out!
海の駅 ぷらっとみなと市場 (Sea Station Port Market)
Location: 2-5 2-Chome, Minatomachi, Tomakomai-shi
Hours of Operation: 7:00 - 4:00
Closed on Wednesdays (Except for one store)
Home Page: http://uminoeki.info/ (Japanese)