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Aloha Sapporo! Visiting Otaru

We visited a port town near Sapporo for an amazing sushi lunch, and more

Posted November 1, 2012 by Melissa Chang

I’ll confess, we ate about eight times today. If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you have already seen a good chunk of what we ate, but for those  who haven’t, I don’t want to alarm you by showing you everything in one blog post. We can’t help it. There’s just a lot of good food here in Sapporo, and we have a limited time in which to try it all.

When you visit Sapporo, everyone says you need to visit Otaru, which is just a 30 minute train ride away. Since it’s a port city, the buildings are very European, thanks to the many ships passing through from various countries. The canal that runs through the town looks a bit like the Seine (only cleaner) and many Russian boats still make port calls. As you might guess, the seafood is also great here.

When we told Reiko Tokushige Rogers we were headed to Otaru and wanted to eat at Isezushi, she got very excited. As it turns out, the owner is her friend, so she was able to get us a reservation — which we didn’t know was essential if you want to eat there. We also didn’t know that Isezushi is a Michelin star-rated restaurant, which is why it’s such a big deal. When you get to Otaru, if you don’t know your way around, catch a cab to the restaurant. Otherwise, it’s an easy 10-minute walk.

Isezushi (1 of 28)


If you do nothing else in Otaru, make a reservation (required) at Isezushi. This sushi bar has one Michelin star and was highly recommended by the papparazi who accosted Laurie at the airport (see previous blog) and Reiko Tokushige Rogers, who is from Hokkaido. It's owned by Mr. Takahiro Koise, who is also the sushi chef.

3-15-3 Inaho Otaru

Guess how much that fabulous, Michelin star lunch cost? Just $75 per person, including the sake. Move over, Sasabune.

I’m going to post video later so you can get a better feel for what the town is like, but here are other highlights from our visit to Otaru:

Otaru (1 of 18)


Here's what you see when you first step out of the train station. You can walk straight down that street to the waterfront, if you want.

We actually found a pretty cool store halfway to the water that should be profiled here, but they wouldn’t allow pictures or video. Also, come to find out, we missed out on the area where they have glass products (like Murano) blown in Otaru. One of our friends, @TheCommonFoodie, says she stayed there for a day and a half and that wasn’t enough time. So I’ll probably have to plan a return trip so I can take in everything this area has to offer.

If you want to see all the photos I took on this day, click here.

Up next: The big ikura bowl, and the other five meals we ate!


You can read all of Melissa’s blogs at Follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa808, on Foursquare as Melissa808, or email at

  1. matti2d
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

    sweet.  another Melissa food adventure.
    actually, we do have shako at home (HI).  they’re called Mantis Shrimp in english and are somewhat uncommon or unknown (I’ve seen them around the reefs but never bothered trying to catch them).  I’ve heard them called “squilla” in hawaii by some of the old timers.  that’s a mediterranean name for them and I’m guessing it (the name) was brought to HI by the portuguese (just a WAG) since they’re obviously different species in HI and europe.
    these are also known by the name “thumb splitter) because they flick their claws at such a high speed they can cause serious damage to people who hold them incorrectly. they’re the species of shrimp that have been known to shatter aquarium glass with their claw strikes.

  2. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @matti2d Wow! Good to know. I guess that’s why I never ate it? yikes!! I don’t think I’ve heard of squilla, either. I’ll definitely keep a look out for this when I get home!

  3. sakeshop
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Malcolm loves chu toro! I loved your “melty and meaty” description ;D

  4. M
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Hello Melissa!
    I’m going to be taking a lot of notes.

  5. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @Melissa808  @matti2d Delicate Blossom: Matti2d is correct.  I have seen Mantis shrimp here but very rare to see it on the market.  Fishermen rarely sell this and it is savored for themselves.  Our waters are too warm to have guud tasting fish and seafuud…cold water=more fatty parts=better tasting.

  6. Annoddah_Dave
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Delicate Blossom:  Thanks for the Fuud Pix!  I had them for lunch…it was awesome, if only I could have them for real!

  7. nonstopmari
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    i’m dying over here. for that sushi meal alone, i wish i cd have gone.

  8. sakeshop
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    @nonstopmari @Melissa808 me too!!!

  9. thecommonfoodie
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks for the shout out Melissa! All the food pictures are making me so jealous! I miss the crab and soft serve ice cream (not together, of course!). If I visit Hokkaido again, I think I’m going to stick with the Sapporo & Hakodate (didn’t got there yet) areas. Gotta eat more ramen too! ;o)

  10. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    @sakeshop heh heh thank you!

  11. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    @M thank you!!!!

  12. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    @Annoddah_Dave I want more!

  13. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    @sakeshop  @nonstopmari wish you were here! Actually, konaish  & I were saying it may be a good idea to come back to finish exploring Otaru.

  14. Melissa808
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    @thecommonfoodie Thank YOU! now I gotta go back.

  15. konaish
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    @nonstopmari @Melissa808 @sakeshop The stars really aligned for that lunch to happen! We sure lucked out. That meal put sushi on a whole new level. We need to get back to Otaru to experience that again. Wish you guys were here!!

  16. nonstopmari
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    @konaish  @Melissa808 yes. thnku for ur sentiments. : |@sakeshop

About Melissa Chang

Melissa has been blogging regularly since 2007 and has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and public relations. She is currently an independent marketing consultant, specializing in social media. 

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