“Okaeri!” It means, “welcome home”. It’s what mothers say to their children upon arriving home from school, and what wives call to their husbands entering the family home after a hard days work. It’s what people say when friends and family return to their home towns, it’s the name of a delightful seafood restaurant and bar in Tsu City, and what the staff call to you by means of welcome when you enter the cozy restaurant. “Okaeri”.
It surprised me initially, being told in a big friendly voice “Welcome Home!”, when it was the first time I’d ever been there. Still, the feeling was understood, and the surprise didn’t end there! The food was fantastic! First came a bowl of lightly vinegared crab meat, light and sweet, while my partner had oysters in a light vinegar with a sprinkling of finely grated carrot and spring onion. It opened the floodgates for more tasty treats. There was thinly sliced sashimi, locally caught and so fresh you’d swear it had been swimming until just moments ago. We also ordered a locally caught whole isaki, a soft, white fleshed fish baked whole in salt and delivered steaming hot. Spring rolls, crispy on the outside but filled with hot gooey melted cheese inside, and being the foreigner I am, couldn’t resist the thick chunky potato wedges sprinkled with parsely. My partner ended with a steaming bowl of the perennial Japanese favorite, ochazuke, rice in a thin green tea soup.
The service was typical of small establishments in rural Japan, very friendly and open. The interior was still new having opened in October 2011, and Okaeri is very very reasonable! Our bill for the evening came to just \4,000, and that includes a few rounds of drinks! When you find yourself hungry in Tsu city, Okaeri is the place to head, just 4 minutes walk from Tsu station, and right next door to the Tsu Grand Court Hotel.
Simple, delicious, cheap and friendly,…All the more reason to want to be hearing that cheery call of “Okaeri!” once again soon!