The Tottori Sand Dunes are probably the main star of this prefecture in northern Honshu, but for anyone planning a visit to this part of Japan should know about the local food culture here. In this article, I will be sharing some of the best food to experience in Tottori, Japan.
To get here, the nearest major airport city would be Osaka, and it take about four hours one way via train, and if you are self driving, it would take you only two and a half hours drive. For those traveling from Tokyo, you need to take a short flight via All Nippon Airways (ANA) from the Haneda Airport.
Once here, the main attraction include the famous sand dunes, Tottori Castle, temples, parks and historical sites. However, the food is noted to be one of the best in this part of Japan, and Tottori is also known as the least populated prefecture of Japan with only about 200,000 residents.
Some of Tottori’s mouth watering seafood dishes
Seafood In Tottori
Seafood is no doubt on top of the list as this part Honshu faces the Sea of Japan, where most of the freshest seafood is caught, and distributed all over Japan and the world.
Hordes of local visitors head here namely for the speciality catches that take place throughout the year, and is now slowly being popularized by the tourism boards too. Below is a list of some of the must-try seafood from Tottori.
Mosa Shrimp served over rice in Tottori.
Mosa Shrimp (Sea Prawns)
These are seasonal as they are usually caught just after the summer period, and the meat is said to be sweeter than the famed Alaskan pink shrimps. The uniqueness of the Mosa Shrimp is that they have to be consumed fast, the minute they are brought to shore, buyers snap them up and are served in nearby restaurants for the freshness.
It is stated that the quality degrades once these Mosa Shrimp are kept too long, hence they are not exported but consumed locally. This makes the prawns very unique to Tottori, and is best eaten as sashimi. Other styles include the Mosa miso soup, Mosa shio-yaki and the Mosa shrimp rice crackers.
The best place to savor this during the season is around the main Tottori harbor area or the Karoichi Market. Just look for seafood restaurants that serve Mosa shrimp around the area, or you can ask the locals where are the best places to try the Mosa shrimp.
Matsuba Snow Crabs from the Sea of Japan.
Most of us know about the Japanese snow crabs, but here in Tottori Prefecture, you have the luxury of choosing the different types of snow crabs and other crabs that are caught of the Sea of Japan. The Matsuba Crab is actually an adult made snow crab called Matsuba-gani locally.
The meat is superior compared to the common snow crabs and many visitors to Tottori will have this on the list of must-eat food while visiting this prefecture. There are many restaurants that serve this crab and for anyone visiting in the first week of November, the fourth is officially known as Matsuba Crab Day, and is celebrated in the harbor area of Tottori.
Best way to enjoy Matsuba Crabs are sashimi, boiled, grilled or simply with porridge. Most popular seafood restaurants around Tottori will serve these dishes.
White Squid Sashimi from Tottori
Shiroika White Squid
Known as the Swordtip Squid, they are caught in the Sea of Japan and quickly bought up by the local restaurants to have them served as live sashimi. With a level of freshness beyond your expectations, these Shiroika squid are one of t sought after seafood dishes in Tottori.
The best way to enjoy these unique white squid is by eating them raw as sashimi, grilled or Nitsuke, a local squid soup flavored with some soy sauce and sugar. Some foodies claim that when the squid is served, they are still translucent in color, indicating the ultimate freshness.
Most of us have eaten squid, and we know that they are generally white in color, but the Shiroika Squid is something out of this world. You can find this unique squid at most of the seafood restaurants around Tottori, namely the harbor city area.
The beautiful red queen crab from Tottori.
Red Queen Crab
With a name like that, anyone would want to be trying this delicacy which is one of the most popular seafood dishes here in the Tottori Prefecture. The number one place where they best tried is also at the Sakaiminato area, which is east of Tottori city.
It is here that the Red Queen Crabs are brought in during the months of September and July, where these deep red crabs are caught in the Sea of Japan. According to some locals, the Red Queen Crab (Itsukiboshi) is superior in taste and flavor compared to the other Japanese crabs, often known as the prized-crab of Tottori. Some of the rare Itsukiboshi can cost up to ¥1,000,000 per crab.
Inside the Karoichi Market.
Recommended Places To Try The Famous Tottori Seafood
There are many restaurants and Izakaya’s that serve fresh seafood around Tottori, but if there is one place to explore and find many options, it would be the Tottori Harbour Seafood Market Karoichi or simply known as the Karoichi Market. It is located in the Karo Harbor area of Tottori City.
This place serves as a multiple experience where visitors can see the freshly caught seafood being traded and sold to locals. This happens on a daily basis too. There are a lot of activities that take place here which will keep anyone busy, and they include tuna slicing demonstrations and even a children’s seafood cooking class.
The surrounding of the market offers various restaurants where the fresh seafood is served, providing some of the best food experiences in Tottori. There are also many souvenir shops in the vicinity for you to get some gifts.
Tottori Harbour Seafood Market Karoichi
Address: 27-1 3-chome, Karo-cho Nishi, Tottori, Tottori
Tel: +81 0857-38-8866
Grade A5 Wagyu beef cuts, the best beef in Japan.
Tottori Wagyu Beef Oleic Acid 55
For the beef lovers, this is not to be missed as the Tottori Beef Oleic Acid 55 is one of the most supreme in all Japan. What is this beef? Well, this is a type of Tottori Wagyu beef with A4 and A5 grades that is specially farmed with over 55% of unsaturated fatty acid, which is what makes the beef melt in your mouth.
The Tottori Beef Oleic Acid 5 is also a multiple award-winning beef that comes from the Tottori Kuroge Washu Cows, raised at the Houki Maeda Farm here. This simple says that if you have tried Wagyu around the world and thought that was the best beef you have tried, you need to try this before passing judgement.
The Tottori Gov. Shinji Hirai with premium Wagyu Beef in 2017. Photo by Japan Times.
Only selected places around Tottori sell this cut of Wagyu beef, and you need to know which are the ones. There are many cuts of Wagyu, and one can easily be deceived by the grades or marbling of the beef. It is recommended you go with someone who knows about Wagyu or specifically look for the Tottori Wagyu Beef Oleic Acid 55 .
Below are two restaurants in Tottori which is highly recommended by the Michelin Food Guide that serves this prized beef.
Daisen Kuroushi Beef Kyoshotei
Address: 1-60-11 Kakubancho, Yonago 683-0812, Tottori Prefecture
Tel: +81 859-30-2989
Address: 2-120 Kakodo cho, Yonago 683-0812, Tottori Prefecture
Tel: +81 0859-30-2949
Tottori is famous for its fresh seafood.
Tottori Prefecture is one of the lesser visited destinations and is up and coming. While it has been a very local place, more travelers are starting to explore out of the commercial destinations of Japan, and the Tottori Prefecture if one of these places worth exploring.
Most travelers would be looking for an overall adventure, and here, you will be blessed with some of Japan’s most freshest and unique seafood. So if you are a travel foodie, Tottori should be on your bucket list.