One of the top three markets in Hokkaido (alongside Kushiro's Washo Market and Sapporo's Nijo Market), Hakodate Asaichi is a seafood lovers' heaven! Plentiful quantities of seafood are off loaded at the nearby Hakodate Port everyday, which means visitors are guaranteed the freshest gifts from the sea in this market. But what makes Hakodate Asaichi different from the rest?
- Squid is Hakodate's city fish for many reasons. The shape of Hakodate city is said to resemble the squid from a bird's eye view (Mt Hakodate being the head and rest of Hakodate city looked like the body of squid). Apart from that, Hakodate boosts the highest number of squids catch in Hokkaido annually, making up 90% of Hakodate's overall live catch as well. The locals' affection for squid has even gone to the point that a "squid dance" is created for their annual Hakodate Port Festival in summer! From food (such as squid ink soft serve, squid buns) and souvenirs to mascots, road signs and even manway covers, it seems that the presence of squids cannot go unnoticed in Hakodate.
- One activity that is unique to Hakodate Asaichi is this live squid fishing from a tank placed in the centre of ekini market (えきに). Get a fishing rod from the counter to proceed with squid fishing, without the need of a bait - the trick is to aim for the fin of the squid. After paying for your catch, the staff will dissect the squid on the spot, cutting the main body into thin translucent strips (ika noodles) within minutes. Only managed to see the entire process from the side and did not get to taste the squid sashimi (should have done so...).
- Undoubtedly, the most popular seafood in Hokkaido has got to be crabs. In Hakodate Asaichi, I got to try a crab bun. A very nice savory snack that is filled with a mixture snow crab meat, bamboo shoot, onion, egg white and soy sauce. Apart from seafood, there are also meat, vegetables, fruits and dried goods stalls, catering to the needs of locals. Always felt that visiting the market was a good way to understand the lives of local, as this is a place which brings people together and is always bustling with life and spirit.
- We finally get to taste some seafood at one of the many grilled seafood stalls in the market. Feasted on fresh uni (sea urchin), scallop and abalone. Love the uni especially - sweet, slightly briny taste and creamy texture, melted in our mouths almost instantly! If you are a sashimi lover, I will highly recommend to leave an empty stomach in the morning and try out the chirashi don (ちらし丼) and katte don (勝手丼) which are offered by many shops here.
Hakodate Asaichi 函馆朝市