From my room at the Hotel Route Inn Grantia Hakodate Ekimae in Hakodate, I can see Mt. Hakodate, Hakodate Station, Motomachi and the Morning Market and Ekini Fish Market. My friendly check-in clerk ensured that I had enough breakfast vouchers for my four night stay. But on the first morning I was off once again in search of seafood for my initial meal of the day, this time both raw and grilled.
I walked into the Morning Market to a group of squealing school children in tiny red and yellow hats that giggled and jostled through the narrow market walkways. A number of them bought small bouquets of fresh flowers. I weaved in-and-through the area, past an elderly woman crouched atop her fruit stand, the picture of calmness, and into the outdoor market area where seafood vendors sold their wares.
The streets were a hive of activity, throngs of Chinese tour groups made for a busy and lively atmosphere. You could see that everyone was enjoying the market and taking advantage of the opportunity to indulge in Hokkaido’s oceanic offerings.
As I moved back in the direction I started, I found myself entering the Ekini Fish Market. Next door, I discovered an entrance that housed a number of small restaurants and after a quick review, I popped in for my morning meal.
Donburi with ikura and sake sashimi (salmon roe and salmon meat) and a grilled Hokke (Hokkaido Okhotsk Atka Mackerel) would be my selection, and a wise selection it was. My donburi was superb, and the pickled vegetables were enjoyable. The crispy, slightly oily mackerel with the grated daikon and soy sauce provided a nice counterpoint to the raw items. The miso soup, well, the soup was another story. It contained what I thought at first to be grated yam. After the second spoonful I realized it was a seaweed of some kind and a slimly one at that. As I attempted to consume it, thin strings of what could best be described as having a snot-like consistency (my apologies, but this is the most apt description I could come up with) proved to be too problematic. It was the first things I’ve eaten in Japan that I didn’t finish completely – and that includes the natto I had for breakfast at a ryokan in Kyoto.
Soup notwithstanding, the first meal in Hakodate at the market was a great start to my travel time in the southern city. Thankfully, with the markets only a two minute walk from my hotel, I’ll be returning for fresh seafood, but not the slimy soup.