Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hakodate - Uni Murakami

What would a foodie want to do on his arrival to Hakodate, right after having dropped his luggage at the hotel? The first thought on his mind would be "uni, hotate, kani". Having arrived fairly late in the evening, welcomed by heavy snow falling on this deserted and quiet Japanese town, I almost lost my hopes that I would manage to find a gourmet venue... walking and shivering along the dark and peaceful streets next to the JR station, where the fish market opens in the mornings, I spotted a light at the end of the tunnel... an open restaurant, with a traditional looking wooden door, and the beautiful うに (uni) hiragana writing right in front. That was Hokkaido blessing my arrival!

How lucky was I to have found by accident (or is it my gourmet radar?) a gourmet uni restaurant open at that late hour... The obvious choice was a uni and hotate don, since donburi is clearly their speciality. Needless to describe what that uni tasted like. Unless you have been to Hokkaido and tasted it, you won't know :)
I was slightly disappointed with the scallops... they were firm, lean and chewy rather than creamy. I later tried Hokkaido scallops at a few other places and they were consistently the same. i basically discovered I don't like Hokkaido scallops. They are different indeed, but not the way I like scallops to be. I prefer them fatty and creamy.

The Ikura marinated in soy sauce was also incredibly fresh, These little poppers exploded one by one in my mouth releasing tons of flavour!

The braised uni was totally new to me. I believe it's one of the specialties of this restaurant. If you had this dish without knowing that it's uni, you wouldn't have guessed what it's made from. Yet, it does taste like uni, except the texture is totally transformed. Worth trying.

And finally... something you definitely won't be able to find elsewhere: Uni ice cream! It is actually sakura (cherry blossom) ice cream, topped with uni. I am aware that the culinary value of this unusual combination might be debatable, but I had this with an open mind, and the sweet creaminess of the uni did go well with the ice cream.

I included a photo of one of the pages on the menu, just to give you an idea of what you are missing... if you happen to be in Hakodate, you must try this place. It's a 5 minutes walk from the JR station (just walk all the way up the narrow fish market street), so you should consider it even if you are travelling to Sapporo by train and having no plan to stay in Hakodate.


the soul of Japan said...

I love these photos. I too am a fellow foodie and intend on visiting Uni Murakami next months. Thanks for sharing.

Gary said...

Thanks for the review!
We visited Uni Murakami and I loved the uni so much - best uni I have ever tasted in my life.
We took pictures of our own as well and wrote about our experiences.
Please check it out too. Thank you!

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