Release | Ayumi Ohmiya
Michi No Eki Lake Utonai has countless attractions to see, to buy, and to eat!
Michi No Eki Lake Utonai was too good just to stop by, it was worth traveling for the Michi No Eki!Drive towards the south for about 20 minutes via National Route 36 from Shin-Chitose Airport. “Michi No Eki Lake Utonai” by the Lake Utonai, which is the dreamland for birdwatchers, is a popular spot to stop when going to birdwatching.
▲The inside is structured with woods and feels the warmth. The space in the front of this picture is used for events, temporary shops, and galleries which changes weekly.
The lakeside of the building has large windows and binoculars are set at each seat by the window. This is special seats to see lakes and around from inside using binoculars on rainy or cold days.
There is Lake Utonai Wild Birds And Animals Center at the end of trails towards the lake, and you can learn about natural environments surrounds Lake Utonai.
▲The seats by windows with binoculars are exceptional.
Other than that, the Michi No Eki is filled with attractions of food and shopping. I will introduce these attractions of Michi No Eki Lake Utonai, which makes people stay for a long time.
Get surf clam kimchi and Wild Bird Society of Japan’s rain boots at the Antenna Shop “Meal”!You can find various souvenirs from Tomakomai at the Antenna Shop “Meal”. Different products using the local specialty surf clam and haskap berries are displayed on the shelves and refrigerators.
The most popular products are surf clam gyoza (1,080 yen for 10 pieces) and surf clam kimchi (1,400 yen).
Utonai bagels (sold only during weekends) and Swan Manju, which is limitedly sold in Lake Utonai, are perfect for coffee time snack.
▲Surf clam kimchi made by the famous Yakiniku restaurant in Tomakomai, Kingoen, is the best food to have with rice and sake.
▲This souvenir is really Lake Utonai’s Michi No Eki like! They also sell Wild Bird Society of Japan’s rain boots. The popular colors sell out fast, so better be quick!
▲Haskap berries are a local specialty of Tomakomai. They are most often processed to jams, and “Meal” sells different kinds. Haskap’s season is limited and thoroughly raped pieces are easy to crash, so it is often sold frozen.
Sushi dishes from Kaisen Park is said to be the new specialty of Lake Utonai. Not only crab pressed sushi (1,080 yen) or surf clam pressed sushi (1,260), the lunch set with four kinds of pressed sushi including crab, salmon, surf clam, saury, and crab thick sushi roll, salad, and miso soup is a good value for money (860 yen) and very popular.
Crab and egg rice bowl from “Kaisen Park” is a must-repeat dish
Especially, “crab and egg rice bowl” (750 yen) apparently catches many repeaters, and this is the absolute favorite dish that everyone will understand once they have it.
▲They mix pieces of snow crab and fluffy egg and put special sweet and sour source. This is a troublesome dish because we can finish it instantly even if we are full. The bowl in front of the picture above is normal size, and the bowl at the back is large. (Surprisingly, the price is the same as the normal size!
Have some B1 Tonchan’s pork bun at “Plaisir"Plaisir is the place to taste the brand pork of Tomakomai: B1 Tonchan. The most recommended food here is “Butaman (pork bun)” (350 yen). The food is developed by the daughter of the pig farm when she was a high school student. It has been 15 years since the start of selling. However, it is still the no.1 popular menu here. This pork bun is undoubtedly something that I want everyone from young to old to try.
Other than that, pork dishes such as charcoal grilled pork rice bowl (800 yen) and rice burger using Tomakomai’s specialty surf clam.
▲The pork bun is large enough that a mother and a child can share. They also sell frozen buns to take home.
The new dish Tomakomai Curry Ramen has started selling at “Rapo Rapola Shokudo”“Rapo Rapola” means “to fly” in Ainu Language. This is a diner operated by Northern Horse Park Restaurant. Well, it is understandable that the quality of every food is high enough like a specialty store.
The “Miso Curry Ramen” (900yen) is their exclusive and uses full-blown curry soup by using plenty of spices. The excellent balance of aromas from spices gives a perfect accent to the thick and deep miso soup. The flavor makes me want to drink up the soup.
▲“Tomakomai Curry Ramen” has 50 years history and being noticed recently! Rapo Rapola just started selling recently!
“Farmers’ Market” is the must-visit place in the morningThe attraction of the Farmers’ Market, which gathers local agricultural products, is the seasonal vegetables freshly harvested in the morning every day. Among that, unlimited packing of cherry tomatoes for 300 yen is very popular. It instantly sells out even they bring a full container of tomatoes. The regular customers visit here first thing in the morning to do the unlimited packing.
▲The plant factories in the neighborhood produce green vegetables even in mid-winter so people can buy local vegetables all year around. Other than that, they also offer various local mushrooms.
▲The unlimited packing of cherry tomatoes is great value for the cost because you can pack about 350 grams. There are different kinds of tomatoes, and also the sizes are different, but they look very delicious.
I visited there in early March, so I could not take a picture this time but outside shops such as “Utonai Gelato”, makes gelato with haskup berries, will open in April. This was a Michi No Eki where I want to visit making myself starved.
They will hold “The 12th Utonai Marche” to sell handmade goods on June 2 and 3. It will be a lively weekend with stage events and outside food stalls. Why don’t you visit Michi No Eki Lake Utonai?
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Ayumi Omiya
Photo / Koki Yoshida
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