Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The best sushi and sashimi in Hokkaido. And how 2nd best is never ever good enough.



Yesterday, in Northern Japan, living a #Travelife, we spent the afternoon walking through the old cobblestoned streets of the historical port city of Hakodate.

Hakodate is a city with a far more glorious past than present, and it seems that many neighborhoods have been forgotten in time.

From a tourist's perspective, though, this means having the opportunity to see many beautiful old buildings from the Meiji era, which were Hakodate's glory years, although quite a number of these are in a dilapidated state.

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CHEERING OURSELVES UP WITH
SUSHI IN HOKKAIDO

What an interesting town this was. It even has a Russian Orthodox Church from 1916, which is just prior to the Russian Revolution.

However, as previously mentioned, many buildings seemed abandoned or unkept.

And, as the present of Hakodate seemed a bit sad compared to its illustrious past, perhaps due to the after-effects of Japan's crippling 20-year recession, we decided to cheer ourselves up by having dinner in the best sushi restaurant in Hakodate.




WHEN 2ND BEST
IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.

"What about 2nd best?" My companion asked as he googled places on his phone, and it seems that the 2nd best sushi restaurant in Hakodate was very near where our ship, the Silver Discoverer, was anchored.

But as my good friends know all too well, second best is never good enough for me, including where sushi is concerned.

THE BEST SUSHI IN HAKODATE
AND THE 4TH BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT IN HOKKAIDO


The top sushi restaurant in Hakodate is something like the #4 best in the whole Hokkaido, which is quite something, considering there must be at least 100,000 sushi shops in Hokkaido.

Usually, #4 isn't okay with me if I can have #1. But if you look at things from this 100,000+ perspective, #4 is way better than just good enough.

The two best sushi restaurants in Hokkaido are in Sapporo by the way. On another holiday to Hokkaido last October, also living a #Travelife, I tried to book #2, but our schedules just didn't match with the reservations we got.

This time, we were ready to try #1 but we ended up never staying in Sapporo as we did a long weekend of hot springs towns. 

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ALL ABOUT #1

Anyway, Hakodate's #1 sushi restaurant was way off grid, in an upscale neighborhood we never would have found on our own.

Thank goodness for a capable taxi driver, who also tried to get us to take a tour up a mountain after dinner to see "Hakodate's million-dollar view." But I was quite tired from walking over 10,000 steps around Hakodate that same day, so we firmly refused.

WONDERFUL, LIGHTLY SEASONED SUSHI



The restaurant was contemporary and obviously very marketing savy -- just the kind to get Michelin stars. Now all we needed to know was whether the sushi was as good as its ratings.

The sushi was wonderful, seasoned very lightly either with soy sauce or salt, so that no plate for soy sauce or wasabi was placed in front of us. Basically we had to eat everything as we were told, although I did venture bravely to ask for more salt for my second order of shredded crab sushi.

The sushi master hit it off with us and we talked the whole night, in the process learning a whole lot about the sushi trade.

THE LOCALS AND THE TOURISTS
WANT DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUSHI


He said: "We need to stock everything because the locals who come don't want to be served seafood caught around here, while the Tokyo people all clamor for fish and seafood fresh off the boat here in Hakodate."

SUSHI DAYTRIPPING TO HOKKAIDO
FROM TOKYO

How true was that? That was exactly what I requested.

I asked: "Do you get a lot of clients from Tokyo?"

He replied: "We're getting an extraordinary number of regular clients from Tokyo these days."


Then, pointing to two empty seats at the far-end of the counter, just vacated by two men, he continued: "The gentlemen seated there awhile ago? They're from Tokyo. They literally flew into Hakodate I just to eat sushi, arriving in Hakodate at 4 PM and leaving on the last flight back to Tokyo."

He added: "Their wives don't even know they're here. They come quite often on this kind of a trip, just for a change of a scenery and to eat fresh local sushi."

And to think I thought I was the only one in this world living a never-ending, and never-endingly delicious #Travelife. 

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