Saba no Eki mackerel restaurant in Hachinohe サバの駅
Hachinohe & mackerel
Hachinohe is the second largest city in Aomori prefecture and at the same time a small port town in the northernmost tip of the Japan coast mainly known for fishing and its fish market. Hachinohe offers great freshly caught seafood. It is also the starting point of the remarkable Michinoku Coastal Trail, which we did in parts here.
Apart from seafood like shrimp, crab, salmon, octopus, squid, Hachinohe is also famous for what has been branded as “Hachinohe maeoki saba”, a superb mackerel with fatty flavourful meat that can reach a fat content of up to 30%.
Hiroshi Sawakami, the proprietor of Saba no Eki was one of the founding members of the mackerel brand promotion council. He opened his establishment specializing in mackerel dishes in 2009. Because mackerel is considered too simple compared to tuna or salmon by some purists, at the beginning he got little success. Gradually the attention grew for mackerel’s amazing taste and with time, the restaurant became quite famous, with many Japanese coming to the area especially to try his dishes. Nowadays more and more restaurants offer and advertise mackerel as the signature dish from Hachinohe.
The restaurant offers around 30 different dishes prepared with mackerel. One of the osusumes (recommendations) is the grilled mackerel skewer and raw mackerel quick-frozen at -50 ℃, right after being caught. The place is small and there is no English menu but there are images next to the items so you can understand what you are ordering. Furthermore, the super-friendly staff will try to help you as much as they can – some do speak a little English. Be sure to drink sake with your food. There are 5 types of sake that accompany and pairs fantastically well with the dishes.
We went there twice during our trip in Tohoku and our favourites remain:
- Sashimi mackerel done in three different ways
- Grilled mackerel on a bamboo skewer with a fine sauce
- Mackerel cooked in miso sauce
Saba No Eki is located right in the center of the entertainment district in Hachinohe. The Dormy Inn Hotel is right across the street. The food was so good we went there twice. ;). The name Saba No Eki means “mackerel (saba) station (eki)”.
We last vast visited on the 26 April 2019.