The town of Monbetsu, in Hokkaido's far north east, is known for several things - primarily for the drift ice that you'll find off their coast in the winter months, and an amazing abundance of fresher-than-fresh seafood. In particular, the crab in this region is said to be the best in all of Japan. If you're wondering where to get your hands on some of it, look no further than Monbetsu Ryoshi Shokudo.
Monbetsu Ryoshi Shokudo acts as part-restaurant and part-cooking school. There are plenty of menu options available that don't require you to get your hands dirty, but if you're interested in learning how to prepare dishes yourself you're able to do that at the premises. When I visited, I was a complete newbie to all things crab, and was able to learn all the intricacies of how to get crab meat from the shell myself.
It is a little daunting, perhaps, when you're given a tray with a crab, some metal implements and a pair of pliers - but the staff at the restaurant guide you through the preparation process. You're also given an apron to keep your clothes clean - it can be messy work! Preparing the crab myself certainly gave me a new appreciation for all the effort that goes into the enjoyment of this delicacy. We learned to enjoy the crab in several different ways, including a crab soup and simple but delicious grilled crab.
Alongside the crab that this region of Japan is renowned for, there are a host of other seafood options available at the restaurant to enjoy. They serve up many of the dishes here donburi style, on top of rice, so no matter what you choose you'll have a full and satisfying meal.