Otaru Food – Restaurants, Sushi, Ramen and More
We've got a full guide to the joys of Otaru food, all right here. The freshest seafood, tastiest ramen and much, much more.
Although better known for its glassworks, sake distilleries and music boxes, the northern Hokkaido city of Otaru is also an excellent destination for food lovers. As a port city, there’s no shortage of fresh fish, making the seafood hard to beat. Though, whatever you opt for, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
Keep reading to discover Otaru’s culinary secrets.
For more on Otaru, take a look at our guide: Otaru – Everything You Need to Know
Otaru’s alias is the City of Sushi, and it’s not hard to see why. The city has more sushi restaurants per head than anywhere else in Japan, all taking advantage of the abundance of fresh fish that floods into the docks each day. You’ll find an impressive assortment of fish and sea creatures on offer in Otaru, though the sweet shrimp (in season from April to November) and red sea urchin are local specialities that the city is rightly proud of.
Take a look at some of our favourite Otaru sushi restaurants.
Otaru Sushi Street (小樽寿司屋通り)
Walk toward Otaru Canal from National Route 5 and you’ll find yourself surrounded by sushi restaurants – welcome to Otaru Sushi Street. Lined with over 20 restaurants, you won’t be short of options come meal time. Given the competition and direct supply of fish, prices are extremely reasonable, especially compared with major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto.
Starting life in the 1980s, the street is well-established and thus well used to catering to the whims of its many hungry visitors. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it on Otaru Sushi Street.
Website: Otaru Sushiya Dori Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 1 Hanazono, Otaru, Hokkaido
Otaru Asahi Sushi
Asahi Sushi is one of Otaru’s oldest sushi restaurants, one that is steeped in local prestige and adulation. Does it live up to the hype? In short, yes. It’s a large place, with a small number of counter seats and the rest tables, where you’ll find a mixed bag of locals and visitors. Despite its reputation, Asahi Sushi is the opposite of flashy: the decor is simple, the staff warm and the atmosphere casual. The food, you see, is good enough to do all the talking.
Here you’ll find every kind of fish, crustacean and mollusc you could possibly dream of. All of which is to the very highest quality and prepared with an artfulness that almost defies belief. Prices are high, but justifiably so, as you’re unlikely to find too many better sushi restaurants than this one.
Hours: Sun-Sat 10:30 - 22:00 Website: Asahi Zushi Phone: 0134-29-0625 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 1-12-5 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido
Isezushi (伊勢鮨 ), Michelin Star
Isezushi, the only Otaru sushi restaurant to have a Michelin star hung around its neck, is not a place for the casual sushi eater, rather, a place better suited to those with something bordering on an addiction.
From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t look like much, its plain frontage and lack of (English) signage giving little away about what waits within. Inside, there is limited seating, with five counter seats and two small tables behind, and only one option on the menu: omakase, or chef’s choice. There are three levels of omakase – one for 6,300 yen, one for 3,600 yen and one for 3,000 yen. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. The masterfully chefs prepares your meal piece by piece, and, if you’re sat at the counter, places the sushi on the plate in front of you as soon as it’s finished. The fish is divine and made even better by the experience of watching a culinary artist at work.
Isezushi is reservation only and this can only be done over the phone. If you’re planning a trip to Otaru and would like to try it out, ensure you call as early as possible, as seats are like gold dust. The effort, however, is well worth it.
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri & Sat 11:30 - 15:00, 17:00 - 22:00 Sun 11:30 - 15:00, 17:00 - 21:00 Closed on Wednesday and 1st Tuesday of the month Website: Isezushi Phone: 0134-23-1425 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-15-3 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Compared to the previous recommendation, Kantaro Sushi is very casual, a fine place to sample excellent sushi in a laid-back environment. The restaurant is half kaiten (conveyer belt) and half regular order-from-the-menu in its set up, allowing guests the choice of whichever style they’d prefer. If you opt for the former, simply pick up whatever you like as it passes, if the latter, browse the extensive menu and let the staff know your choices. Very accommodating to tourists and friendly, Kantaro Sushi makes for a great place to grab a bite whatever the occasion.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 - 22:00 November-March 11:00 - 21:00 2/7-2/16 11:00 - 22:00 Website: Kantaro Otaru Phone: 0134-26-6771 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 5-4 Minatomachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
Masazushi is a medium-sized sushi restaurant with a reputation for being among Otaru’s very best. Prices reflect this reputation, being rather on the high side. However, the lavish interior and fantastically fresh, well-prepared sushi make it a restaurant that’s worthy of going all out for. If you don’t make a reservation, ensure you arrive before you get too hungry as you may be in for a bit of a wait. With views over the Otaru Canal, the location is great, and the English picture menu makes it a hassle-free experience for non-Japanese speakers. Overall, a solid Otaru sushi choice.
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri 11:00 - 15:00, 17:00 - 21:30 Sat&Sun 11:00 - 16:00, 17:00 - 21:30 Closed on Wednesday Website: Masazushi Phone: 0134-23-0011 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 1-1-1 Hanazono, Otaru, Hokkaido
As we’ve established, seafood is the name of the game in Otaru. Check out the two markets below to see it in all its glory.
Sankaku Fish Market
Straight from the train, dive right into the world of Otaru seafood at Sankaku Fish Market, conveniently located right next door to JR Otaru Station. Here you’ll find stall upon stall of freshly caught seafood, from whole schools of fish and casts of crab to shoals of squid and colonies of shrimp. Browse the aisles and breathe in the salty air and finish up by ducking into one of the small restaurants dotted around the market. Sushi is perhaps the most common option, but don’t be afraid to try another of the specialities on offer.
Hours: Sun-Sat 06:00 - 17:00 Website: Otaru Sankaku Phone: 0134-23-2446 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-10-16 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Rinyu Morning Market (鱗友朝市)
The Rinyu Morning Market can be found in the north of the city, a little way from the attractions of central Otaru and the corresponding tourists. The market is largely for restaurants and other retailers, though individuals can also shop for seafood here, too. It is large, lively and brimming with the sights and smells of the sea. There are simple restaurants where you’ll find locals and workers tucking into large donburi bowls of rice topped with raw fish, among other treats. Prices are significantly cheaper that you’ll find around the canal area so try it out if you can. Be warned, however, the market opens at 03:00 and is closed by 15:00, so get there as early as you can.
Hours: Mon-Sat 04:00 - 14:00 (Closed on Sunday) Phone: 0134-22-0257 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-10-15 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
To put it lightly, it gets pretty cold in Hokkaido. There’s only one antidote to brutally low temperatures and lashing sea winds: a steaming hot bowl of ramen. Find two of Otaru’s very best ramen joints, below.
Tokaiya is a cosy little ramen shop, hidden behind an unassuming exterior. There are only three ramen options: light miso, miso and miso with barbeque pork. The latter is the speciality and well worth the extra yen. The broth has been to salty-but-not-too-salty perfection, the noodles are perfectly cooked and the pork topping is to die for. With the premium option coming in at 950 yen, prices aren’t too bad either.
Hours: Wed-Mon 11:00 - 21:00 (Closed on Tuesday) Phone: 0134-24-6255 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-7-14 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Ramen Shodai (らーめん初代)
Shodai is a local favourite for traditional Hokkaido miso ramen, where you’ll find locals slurping away all day long. The broth is light, almost drinkable, and full of flavour, the noodles sourced locally and – if you opt for the ‘special’ option – the thick slice of pork floating on top is utterly delicious. The atmosphere is also warm and the staff friendly, making this another excellent Otaru ramen choice.
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu & Fri 11:00 - 15:00 Sat&Sun 11:00 - 19:00 (Closed for an hour between 15:00 - 17:00) Website: Shodai Phone: 014-33-2626 Nearest Station: Minami-Otaru Station Address: 14-8 Sumiyoshicho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Soba is a Japanese delicacy you’ll find all over the country, but few restaurants serve up the dish quite the way Yabuhan Soba does. Although the menu contains various different options, it is the soba that creates the queues out the door every lunch and dinner time. Artfully made with 100% buckwheat flour (half buckwheat, half imported flour also available for a discounted price), they are perfect in every way, and complemented wonderfully by a subtle yet flavoursome broth and expertly fried tempura.
The restaurant itself is decked out in a very traditional style, complete with tatami flooring and even kimono-clad waiting staff, making the whole place wonderfully charming. Having built up quite a reputation, foreign visitors are common, so there’s a helpful English menu available should you need it.
Hours: Wed-Mon 11:00 - 20:30 (Closed 16:00 - 16:30) Closed on Tuesday Website: Yabuhan Phone: 0134-33-1212 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 2-19-14 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
A popular Otaru comfort food, Ankake Yakisoba can be most commonly found in the city’s many Chinese restaurants, though don’t be surprised to see it in everything from izakaya to coffee shops. Essentially noodles in a thick starchy sauce, the dish is endlessly customisable with different toppings and always delicious.
Naruto Chicken Otaru
Opened in 1957, Naruto Chicken is easily one of Otaru’s longest standing and best-loved restaurants. Why? Because they’ve discovered the secret to perfect fried chicken. For roughly 1,000 yen, diners are served a whole half-chicken which has been seasoned and fried according to a recipe passed down through the generations. The results leave the chicken juicy and tender, with a crispy skin bursting with flavour. This large restaurant gets very busy, mostly with locals, a good sign that quality is guaranteed every time.
Hours: Tue-Sun 11:00 - 21:00 (Closed on Monday) Website: Otaru Naruto Phone: 0134-32-3280 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-16-13 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido
Kamaei’s Kamaboko Fish Cake
It’s not uncommon to see tourist buses parked up outside of Kamaei, an Otaru restaurant that has become a tourist destination in its own right. In truth, it’s not really a restaurant, more of a cafe/shop, but there is abundant seating on which to enjoy their speciality Kamaboko fish cakes.
A traditional Japanese fish cake made using ground fish and seasoning, it makes for an extremely tasty snack. At Kamaei, there’s a vast range of different fishcake types to choose from and even a small factory tour should you want to see how they’re created. The fishcakes themselves are best served warm, so it’s advised you enjoy them right there and then, though a takeaway option is also available should you want to save them for later.
Hours: Sun-Sat 9:00 - 19:00 Website: Kamaei Phone: 0134-25-5802 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 3-7 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
LeTAO le Chocolate
LeTAO Chocolate is the first word in Otaru confection, a chocolatier with bags of heritage and retailers of the best chocolate in town. Handpick your own selection of sweet treats and have them wrapped up to take home, or eat them there and then, the choice is yours. Alternatively, head to the cafe section of the shop and enjoy a hot drink alongside one of their famous desserts.
Hours: Sun-Sat 09:00 - 18:00 Website: LeTAO le Chocolate Phone: 0134-31-4511 Nearest Station: Minami-Otaru Station Address: 4-19 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
LeTAO Cheese Cake Lab
Right next to LeTAO’s main store is the Cheese Cake Lab, a space dedicated to the brand’s famous cheesecake. Here you’ll get the opportunity to take a peak at how the cake is made, plus there’s room to sit down and enjoy your cheesecake in store. The most popular items are the Double Fromage and the Deu Fromage Roll, which you’d be a fool to miss.
Hours: Sun-Sat 10:00 - 18:00 Website: LeTAO Cheese Cake Lab Phone: 0134-31-5580 Nearest Station: Minami-Otaru Station Address: 6-13 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage
Everything at LeTAO is delicious, yet the Rue Ironai Fromage cookies are especially so. Made following a special recipe, they are a kind of cookie and cheesecake blend, using sweet mascarpone cheese and crispy biscuit to create a hybrid that will blow you away. Freshly baked Rue Ironai Fromage are available to eat there and then, or pick up a box to take away with you, the choice is yours.
Otaru Soko No.1 Brewery
Located in a prime spot on the Otaru Canal, Otaru Soko No.1 Brewery should be your first choice for a drink in the city. The large building is decorated to recall an old German beer hall, all dark wood and gothic features. The interior gives the place a great vibe, helped along, of course, by the fantastic selection of beers. Whilst the standard Japanese lagers (Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, etc) are great, sometimes, something a little more interesting is called for. Otaru Soko No.1 Brewery is happy to oblige with its fine array of Pils, Hefe, and Dunkel lagers and various seasonal offerings. There’s also the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at the factory and a solid menu of simple but tasty food to enjoy alongside your drinks.
If you’re in Sapporo, you could also take the chance to visit Leibspeise, a restaurant run by the brewery. Here, the Otaru Beer Club organises a five and a half hour nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) party twice a month.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 - 23:00 Website: Otaru Beer Phone: 0134-21-2323 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 5-4 Minatomachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
Otaru Beer Zenibako Brewery Festival
An all day festival that concludes with an excellent fireworks display, don’t miss this excuse to spend your day sipping some fine Otaru beer. Taking place in and around Otaru Beer’s Zenibako brewery (not the Otaru Canal location), it’s a great day with a friendly vibe, lots going on and of course, lots of beer. Typically, the brewery creates a brand new beer especially for the occasion.
When: 12:00 - 21:00 (Fireworks 20:00), early August Phone: 0134-61-2280 Nearest Station: Zenibako Station Access: Zenibako Brewery, 3-263-19 Zenibako, Otaru, Hokkaido
Otaru Canal (Denuki Koji, 出抜小路)
When you’re not in the mood for a drawn out sit-down meal, street food is the perfect remedy. Quick, tasty and cheap, it’s a winning formula. The best place to find street food vendors in Otaru is along the central canal. Here, find everything from classics like takoyaki (octopus balls) and yakisoba (fried noodles) to local specialities you won’t find anywhere else. Street food stalls can be found along the canal pretty much all year round, although in the freezing cold of winter your choices may be a little more limited.
Website: Otaru Denuki Phone: 0134-24-1483 Nearest Station: Otaru Station Address: 1-1 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido
Sakaimachi Dori Street (境町通り)
Alternatively, head to Sakaimachi Dori Street, a short hop from the canal. One of the city’s main thoroughfares, the road is lined with food options of all kinds. Whilst there’s a good few restaurants in which to shelter from the cold, a vast array of street food is also available.
Website: Otaru Sakaimachi Phone: 0134-27-1133 Nearest Station: Minami-Otaru Station Address: 6-11 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido
Otaru Food Blog
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