Aomori is a seaside city and the most important port in northern Honshu. Here you can find some of the best fish in Japan. Augashinsen is the most popular fish market in town but wandering around the small streets can lead you to some unique finds. It’s the case with Nokkedon, being very close to the main market; this place is a great alternative and can offer you a great experience. It’s hard to find a definition for it but you can say it’s halfway between a standard fish market and a buffet restaurant.
While it is packed with local shoppers and gourmets, it’s still mostly unknown among the tourists. Located in an obscure and anonymous looking building, you will find four rows of stands selling all kinds of fresh produce, from raw fish to vegetables and meat. The vendors outbid each other in screaming their offers to the customers and old ladies trying to get a bargain price. Locals eating at the shared tables chat boisterously while fishermen go in and out with loads of fish buried in ice.
The first time I entered the place I didn’t really understand how it works. Here is what I figured out:
- Go to the ticket and information counter located close to one of the entrances. Here you can buy tickets for about 100 yen each.
- With these tickets then go to the dedicated rice stand where they will give you a bowl of plain hot rice.
- Carrying your rice around, you can then go to any of the stands and exchange your tickets for the small ready-to-eat portions for sale. They usually place them directly over your bowl.
- Once you are satisfied with your creation, you can go to one of the dining areas and enjoy your custom made bakedon (the Aomori name for donburi - “rice bowl dish”).
Browsing through the stands you’ll find anything from the classic tuna or salmon sashimi to countless varieties of other foods. Fish eggs of any kind, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins but also steamed vegetables, meat, sweets and anything you can think of.
The fish is absolutely fresh and the people are very friendly and kind. The opportunity to make your own custom fish and rice bowl is the best way to take pleasure in the delicacies Aomori has to offer, and it is fun too.