Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tobishima, Sakata (酒田、山形県)

One dangerous thing about having a car is that you'll tend to drive it. So when faced with the prospect of nothing to do in Akita and a train late in the day, we looked at the map and set out semi-randomly for the coast. Sakata in Yamagata was the nearest city, and 2 hours later we rolled into town. There are a bunch of old houses and one or two decent tourist attractions (the prefectural rice warehouses were OK, and had an interesting little doll museum).

Tobishima was the top-scoring place on Tabelog, and has a significantly higher number of reviews than any other place (which ain't saying much in coastal Yamagata). It's located above the small, commercialized fish market at the port (where you can still buy whole buri, so it's not all bad). As the sign says, it's a kaisendonya, seafood rice bowls. This is like the little restaurant at the fish market in Odawara - the promise of fresh fish and low prices is enough to entice the most hardened oyaji.

And entice it does. In addition to the field-sized seating area pictured here, there are several long long tables that stayed full most of the time. There were only 10 people in line when we got there (11:45?) but by the time we left there were, count 'em, 50 people in line. It's pretty good, it's really cheap, there's nothing else to do on a Sunday lunch...? Semi-self serve, where you order at the counter, the chefs in the back are perpetually slicing and plating the limited menu options, and your order comes up quite quickly.

Special kaisen. A couple big shrimp, some crab, some abalone. This picture doesn't do justice to how big it was; for less than Y2000 it was ridiculous value.

Special sashimi set (Y1250, I think). Lots 'o fish, very fresh but not highest quality. I think they should leave out the salmon, because it's probably farmed in Chile (like the ones for sale downstairs), and I think they should include some fresh buri, since it's seasonal and they had such pretty ones in the market! Ah well. Still well worth the drive to see the town, visit the rice warehouses and fish market, buy some jizake, and get stuffed on fishes.

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