So I'm just walking, just having a stroll, through the city of Hirosaki
in North Japan and coming up, just randomly, ahead is a tortoise.
Sort of exciting, surprising, bizarre things you... sometimes see everyday
whilst walking around Japan.
Japan is home to arguably the finest cuisine in the world.
Prepared with the very freshest ingredients.
At the hands of highly disciplined skilled chefs.
I recently won a competition with Tohoku 365, to travel around the entire northern region of Tohoku.
Through six different prefectures in search of the very best local food.
So far we've explored local dishes in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures
and this time we're going to be traveling around Aomori.
The most northern region of Japan's main island of Honshu.
Where we'll be uncovering an unusual local ramen dish, trying some delicious gyoza with Natsuki,
as well as the largest pieces of sushi I've ever had with Ryotaro.
And also randomly coming face to face with a shark and a tortoise
which sounds like some sort of fable.
But our first stop is Aomori city.
The capitol of the region and famous for being the city with the highest levels of snowfall on the planet.
So thank God we didn't come here in winter.
Aomori has some of the freshest seafood in all of Japan.
As it's one of the only prefectures along with Hokkaido, that has coastlines of both the Sea of
Japan and the Pacific Ocean and our first stop is the Furukawa Fish Market,
The city's main market. Which is apparently devised an innovative way of
getting customers in to buy more fish.
So this is Furukawa Fish Market in Aomori City
and it's a fish market with a bit of marketing savvy they're very
clever, because they worked out they can get people to come here by having this
kind of voucher system whereby you get the book of vouchers and then you can
make your own fish bowl. They call it Nokkedon. "Nokke" means: in the very beginning.
"Don" means bowl of rice.
and so you get your vouchers, get your bowl of rice,
and you go around the market and pick out the fish that you want to have
on your rice then you sit down eat it and have lots of fun.
So got my two bowls of rice. One for me, one for the lovely, pleasant cameraman. Who is anonymous...
Used two coupons for that, little bit annoying, but still quite a few left.
I bought 15 in the end, because I'm quite hungry, so now for the fun bit.
I'm gonna get one of these.
This is shredded tuna.
[Shopkeep] Thank you.
[Chris] Tamagoyaki [Shopkeep] Tamagoyaki? Just this?
Earlier on I saw some really good tuna down here.
But we're down to our last five coupons now, so we've got be careful.
Feel a bit like when you have the last hand grenades on Call of Duty.
You don't wanna use it, you want to save it.
Something really special.
[Shopkeep] Here you are.
[Chris] Thank you. Finished! [Shopkeep] You're welcome.
That was quite fun and I think, I think coupons make everything better, don't they.
Look at that, beautiful. I'm big on my tuna.
I'm a simple man. I just like tuna, and salmon, and egg.
I'm not that daring when it comes to trying fish but uh...
Aomori is pretty close to the island of Hokkaido
and the dish at our next stop is heavily influenced by its island neighbor.
A ramen dish known only as Miso Curry Milk Ramen.
It may sound like a dish conceived
by someone under the influence of alcohol, but Hokkaido is famous for its
dairy produce and curry soup. Two key ingredients that have gone into this
unique bowl of ramen.
The soup is mildly spiced with curry and a slice of butter is placed on the
bean sprouts and pork. Which quickly melts away into the soup.
It tastes like...
soup. I guess.
Albeit not too spicy. It's a sort of dish I'd maybe every other week if I
lived in Aomori city, but it's certainly pretty unique. I've never seen anything
like it. In my time in Japan, so far.
Hachinohe on the Pacific coast is
Aomori's second biggest city and it's here that we catch up with Ryotaro
who introduces us to two iconic local dishes.
The magazine called Birders,
actually chose 12 meals, 12 great meals out of all Japan, and this mackerel
sushi was chosen as one of them.
And Mackerel is actually... this Hachinohe is famous for
its quality of the mackerel and this actually I can tell, this is the best
place the way you should eat mackerel.
[Chris] It's ridiculously thick [Ryotaro] It is actually ridiculously thick.
[Chris] That's a horror film face.
[Ryotaro] I'm freaked out by the quality.
[Chris] Freaked out by the quality?
[Ryotaro] This is Justice Good! You know what I mean?
[Chris] Just as delicious? [Ryotaro] Just as delicious!
[Chris] How do you say... how do.. *laughing*
[Ryotaro] Just as delicious! [Chris] Just as delicious.
[Chris] If, if I need to sushi
I'd say salmon and tuna are the first level, they're simplest easiest things to eat.
and then mackerel is probably level two. Little bit more difficult
to wrap your head around, but then there's level three which is like sea urchin.
[Ryotaro] How does it taste like, describe?
[Chris] It's very big. *laughing*
[Ryotaro] Shut up! I thought you are a, you became a great, a great food reviewer?
[Chris] It's so succulent and juicy.
It's cool because you can actually see the skin of the fish.
That's not selling it, is it?
[Chris] That doesn't sound good. [Ryotaro] The skin of the fish?
[Ryotaro] You don't really talk about skin of the fish. *laughs*
[Chris] To sum it up in three words: soft, succulent, and fresh.
[Ryotaro] Uh, uh... Fine, five. Five.
The second local dish resting here alongside the mackerel is cracker soup.
Yes, cracker soup, senbei jiru as it's known in Japanese. It may sound like a
simple and slightly odd dish but it's a staple food of the region
consisting of a broken wheat cracker into a soup of fish, vegetables, or meat
and given Aomori's disturbingly cold snowy winters it's hardly a surprise
that the warm soup dish is so popular.
[Chris] So why do they put the rice crackers in, I don't... what's the...
[Chris] It's a bit random. [Ryotaro] Okay in Hachinohe area, traditionally they could not get rice
[Ryotaro] because of the really strong wind in winter. That's right. [Chris] It's freezing in winter. right?
[Ryotaro] So they decided to like grow wheat here and that's how this wheat
[Ryotaro] cracker came out in production and became famous. [Chris] So it's more than just a dish.
[Chris] It's a case of survival. [Ryotaro] That's true. Rice cracker is the way of survival.
[Ryotaro] So, so when these... [Chris] Rice crackers is the way of survival.
[Ryotaro] Ri-Wheat, wheat crackers, sorry.
[Chris] Wheat cracker is the way of survival.
[Chris] We'll be returning to Hachinohe later on to meet Natsuki.
But first, we head on over to the city of Hirosaki, home to Aomori's most famous export:
It's not an uncommon sight to see apple orchards in the fields
around Hirosaki, along with all manner of apple related products on sale
from apple pies to the finest cider in all of Japan.
For lunch though, I'm grabbing something a little bit more unconventional, from a restaurant
residing in the second-largest Japanese garden in all of Tohoku region. A stunning
garden filled with streams, bridges, and enthusiastic cosplayers.
The restaurant itself is inside a european-style building that seems somewhat out of
place given the traditional garden setting.
I've just ordered apple beef curry with rice,
which is good because I've spent the last days eating nothing but fish.
It's nice to have something a bit different, although again it's got apples in it
because everything in Aomori has apples in it.
If you got apples... Aomori innit?
So I'm just walking through the city of Hirosaki and there's
a tortoise walking down the street.
And it's just a really weird thing to see.
Apparently the owner is taking him for an afternoon stroll and it's good for
tortoise stress-relief genuinely, I'm not making that up.
It's a child as well, it's a child and it's already 40 kilograms.
Sort of exciting, surprising, bizarre things you sometimes see every day, whilst walking around Japan.
Back to Hachinohe where we meet with Natsuki at the city's largest indoor market.
A cavernous sprawl with over 60 independent vendors.
So we're in Hachinohe's Hachi-Shoku center.
Uh, Hachi is in reference to Hachinohe. Shoku means food.
And it's a big huge indoor market full of
restaurants and seafood, vegetables, and something rather worrying coming up
[Chris] How's it feel?
[Chris] Whoa.... [Natsuki] Dental.
[Natsuki] Nice dental. [Chris] Ehh?
[Natsuki] Nice dental. [Chris] Nice dental. *laughs*
Natsuki's done his homework and takes us to a restaurant selling a variety of dishes
containing Aomori black garlic.
A type of garlic with black cloves and characterized by its sweet
and almost vinegary aroma.
So garlic is very popular around these parts, so any
everything we've ordered seems to have garlic in it. Gyoza, the rice, ramen.
[Chris] The ramen? [Natsuki] Ramen.
[Chris] Garlic, garlic, garlic.
[Chris] So busy, why is it busy today?
[Natsuki] Maybe.... holiday? [Chris] Holiday?
[Natsuki] Uncle Holiday. [Chris] Uncle Holiday.
[Chris] Are you celebrating your uncle?
[Natsuki] Celebrate? No ahh, no I'm, I have no uncle. *cries*
[Natsuki] Umm... [Chris] Oh no...
[Chris] ...shit. [Natsuki] Thank you.
[Chris] This is the gyoza.
[Chris] So with gyoza, we need a bowl of soy sauce and a bit of vinegar
and then you dip the gyoza in there. Try to let it marinate for a few minutes.
[Chris] Very garlicky, very garlicky indeed.
[Natsuki] So garlic
[Natsuki] Spicy is good.
And the soup, natural.
[Natsuki] Oh, hot dance. Hot dancing. [Chris] Hot dancing?
[Chris] Gyoza, garlic rice, and a big bowl of ramen.
After a meal like this you won't need to eat again for about six hours.
I'm a bit worried after this I'll kind of just collapse in the car.
[Chris] I feel a sense of guilt, because Natsuki's come all the way
up to Aomori just for the day and he's gotta drive back.
this afternoon because he's got work tomorrow.
So how long will it take to drive from here, all the way back to Yamagata?
[Natsuki] Cho (a lot), Very long.
[Natsuki] Maybe six hours. [Chris] Six hours!
[Natsuki] ...To...to die. [Chris] Six hours to die.
[Chris] That sounds, that sounds like your album name
*coming to iTunes in 2020*
[Chris] He's gotta drive through two mountain ranges. [Natsuki] Yes.
[Natsuki] Over, over mountains. [Chris] Of course it's Uncle Day.
[Chris] Again it's Uncle Day. [Natsuki] It's busy.
[Chris] Too many Uncle.
[Natsuki] Oh my God.
So there you have it, 6 delicious local dishes to try it in Aomori.
In the next Tohoku 365 video
we'll be visiting Akita Prefecture but before then, Ryotaro and I visited
Japan's biggest morning market which happens to also be hidden
away in Hachinohe in Aomori. It was one of the best mornings ever, mainly
as I got to eat just about everything. But you can check the video out in the
description box below. But for now though guys, many thanks for
watching and we'll see you next time you