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Japanese Seasonal Food: Fresh Raw Whitebait Bowl

Date Published: Food, Travel & View point ,

One of the things that I look forward every year during this spring season in Japan is having “nama shirasu don.”

What is “Nama Shirasu Don”?

“Nama shirasu don” is a bowl of rice topped with raw whitebait. “Nama” means raw while “shirasu” means whitebait (in Japan, mostly it refers to the young anchovies). Although you can buy boiled shirasu in the supermarket, “nama shirasu” (raw whitebait) is only available in few areas at certain period. Raw whitebait gets spoiled easily, so it must be served and consumed immediately.

 

Awaji Island: Michi no Eki Awaji

Raw Whitebait Rice Bowl: Michi no Eki Awaji signageSignage directing to the roadstation, “Michi no Eki Awaji”

There is a place called Awaji-shima or Awaji Island located in Hyogo Prefecture, same prefecture where Kobe is. Every year many people come to this island to enjoy this limited food. Many restaurants serve fresh raw whitebait during this season. “Michi no Eki Awaji” is one place where you can find and enjoy the taste of “nama shirasu” along with the view of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

Raw Whitebait Rice Bowl: Order lineupA long lineup at Kaisenkan Restaurant

During my visit, I arrived around noon and there was a long lineup already. But the serving time was fast, so no problem at all. If you are coming in a group, you can ask someone in your group to reserve a table while you take the order.

Nama Shirasu Don and Other Menus

Michi No Eki Awaji: Seafood (Rice Bowl) MenuOther menus look delicious too, but I just can’t missed having the raw whitebait.

Aside from the raw whitebait rice bowl, there are other menus to choose from such as boiled whitebait, sashimi (sliced raw fish), eel tempura (deep-fried). Awaji Island is also known for its branded onion, sweet like a fruit. You can get deep-fried onion rings for side menu.

 

Raw Whitebait Rice Bowl (Nama Shirasu Don)My pick – “nama shirasu don”

I got “nama shirasu don” with grated raddish on top; ooba (green perilla) leaves, wasabi paste, sliced lemon and extra shashimi on the side. The small container on the right side contains the restaurant’s original ponzu (Japanese sauce made of soy sauce and citrus juice).

Michi No Eki Awaji: fresh seafood rice bowl and miso soupAssorted sliced raw fish and squid, some soaked in soup stock and soy sauce.
On the left side is miso soup with sliced Awaji Onion and wheat-gluten bread.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge: View under the bridgeView below the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

 

More Information

How to Get There

There is no train running towards Awaji Island but there are other ways to get there. For access details, check out this website or you can download a guidebook in PDF format available in different languages here. It also contains information about sightseeing spots, food, hot spring and many more.

Restaurants in Awaji Island that serve raw whitebait

For list of restaurants that serve fresh raw whitebait taken from Iwaya area of Awaji Island, check it here. Those restaurants are recognized by the Awaji Iwaya Fisherman’s Cooperative Association.

Season For Nama-Shirasu

For this year 2015, restaurants in Awaji Island start serving nama-shirasu from April 24 until November 8 (subject to change). (I didn’t know it is actually available until November, which is a good news!)

 

If you are coming to Kobe, why don’t you try to extend your trip to Awaji Island and enjoy the limited super delicious and creamy nama-shirasu. Denifitely a must try!

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ren

A gaijin in Okayama who enjoys viewing cherry blossom in spring, fireworks in summer, eating grilled sanma (Pacific saury fish) in autumn and oden in winter.

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