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What to Eat in Ibaraki

Ibaraki, like other global destinations for food and drink, has a rich rural history with villages making artisanal products, deep dark soil that produces excellent produce, and a long stretch of coastline with a long tradition of fishing. Entire volumes could be written about the dining culture and local products of Ibaraki but here are a few to get you started.

  • Natto Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Hakkai

    Natto Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Hakkai

    Natto Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Hakkai

    The district of Kasaharacho in Mito City is home to an unassuming shrine to two local products: natto and pork. Tonkatsu Hakkai’s modest dining room (open every day of the week, 11am to 2pm and then 5:30pm to 10:30pm) serves tonkatsu, a fried cutlet made with locally-produced Rose Pork, topped with local natto. Attention to detail is paramount for the team at Hakkai: the frying oil is a proprietary blend and the even the aging of the breadcrumbs to coat the cutlets is considered.

    For those that would balk at a mound of aromatic, stringy natto—the combination with tonkatsu is about perfect: the earthiness of natto provides a pleasant complimentary flavor, and the heat, oil and crunch works with the unique texture of natto. The natto tonkatsu set meals are in the 2,150 to 2,250 yen range, and there are plenty of other non-natto options, like garlic butter, cheese or house-made curry!

  • Shirasu Donburi at Oarai Kaisen Market

    Shirasu Donburi at Oarai Kaisen Market

    Shirasu Donburi at Oarai Kaisen Market

    Oarai's beaches and the photogenic Isosaki Shrine have made the area a day trip destination, but many are now making the trip to sample the seafood at Oarai Kaisen Market. The fish market gives a preview of what's on offer at the nearby restaurants. The shop, located near the market, is known for seasonal seafood and its rice bowls.

    Shirasu Donburi at Oarai Kaisen Market

    Shirasu Donburi at Oarai Kaisen Market

    There’s no better choice than the fresh shirasu donburi. Fresh shirasu—whitebait, incredibly fresh, tasting of nothing but the Pacific and netted not far from the dining room—is laid on top of a bed of shredded omelet, grated ginger, green onion, and piping hot rice. For less committed shirasu fans, the kama-age shirasu donburi has the whitebait boiled in brine. Both will set you back, before tax, about 1000 yen.

  • Pancakes at Sea Birds Café

    Pancakes at Sea Birds Café

    Pancakes at Sea Birds Café

    Sea Birds Cafe in Hitachi is a great excuse to enjoy the Sejima Kazuyo-designed Hitachi Station and its unique view of the Pacific. The cafe sits in the Free-corridor, a steel and glass passage cantilevered out over an oceanside cliff. The pancakes at the cafe are particularly worthy: dense yet fluffy in a way that seems to defy physics. Make a note of the time as the pancakes are only available on the lunch menu (11:30am to 2pm).

  • Tofu Donuts at the Hina Matsuri

    Tofu Donuts at the Hina Matsuri

    Tofu Donuts at the Hina Matsuri

    The Hina Matsuri is the perfect time to stroll the streets of Makabe in Sakuragawa. The preserved buildings of old Makabe become an exhibit of the antique dolls that give the festival its name. These delicate tofu donuts are a great way to showcase a local product and another reason to visit Makabe during Hina Matsuri.

  • Sweet Potato Products in Daimaruya

    Sweet Potato Products in Daimaruya

    Sweet Potato Products in Daimaruya

    Ibaraki Prefecture produces the bulk of Japan’s harvest of sweet potatoes and they come in all shapes and sizes. Beside the Nakaminato Fish Market in Hitachinaka (easily reached from Mito City or Oarai), Daimaruya specializes in the humble tuber. The dehydrated imo is the best form to appreciate the dozens of varieties that range in flavor from cotton candy sweet to nutty and dank. The colorful names and descriptions call to mind a craft beer menu. The shop also sells local potato shochu and sweet potato jam.

  • Sweet Potato Gelato from Camelot, Daimaruya

    Sweet Potato Gelato from Camelot, Daimaruya

    Sweet Potato Gelato from Camelot, Daimaruya

    The Camelot gelato counter in Daimaruya offers a revolving selection of potato-based ice cream. The gelato is not an afterthought and is made on a professional setup and is probably the best way for a dilettante to see what all the fuss is about with sweet potatoes. Instead of the generic sweet potato flavor that other shops offer, Camelot’s gelati are each made from single, local varieties.

    Hatukai
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Mitoshi Kasaharachou 600-54
    Phone
    0292418029
    Oarai Seafood Market
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Higashibarakigunoaraimachi Isohamachou 8253-56
    Phone
    0292670121
    Oarai Isosaki Jinja
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Higashibarakigunoaraimachi Isohamachou 6890
    Phone
    0292672637
    SEE BiRDS CAFE
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Hitachishi Asahichou 1-3-20
    Phone
    0294260187
  • Hitachi
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Hitachishi Saiwaichou 1-chome
    Phone
    Daimaruya
    Address
    Ibaraki Pref. Hitachinakashi Shakamachi 18-38
    Phone
    0292623731
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