Shirasu Dishes in Kamakura
Hase Shokudo is a Japanese restaurant located at the exit of Hase station, in the west of Kamakura in Kanagawa prefecture. In a beautiful sea resort environment, the restaurant serves a simple and delicious food, made with seasonal local ingredients, such as shirasu, a type of immature fish caught in the nearby Sagami Bay and also called Shonan Shirasu.
In Japan, shirasu (whitebait in English) is renowned for its nutritional value and health properties, and refers to anchovy or sardine fry. These translucent fish juveniles can measure up to 2 centimeters in length. They are usually eaten whole and are rich in proteins and calcium.
A beloved dish of Japanese cuisine, fish juveniles are fished along the Pacific coast, from the prefectures of Kagoshima in the south to Miyagi in the north; 62,900 tonnes have been fished in 2016 for example. Thanks to its ideal location on Sagami Bay on the Shonan coast, Kamakura is one of the most popular touristic destination and closest to Tokyo where to have a taste of shirasu.
Fresh fish and sea food restaurant
Located in the west of Kamakura, at the exit of Hase station on the Enoden train 🚅 line, Hase Shokudo is open for lunch and dinner. It is a convenient stop to enjoy local delicacies in the vicinity of Kotoku-in’s Great Buddha and the wonderful Hase-dera.
Tables are set on an outdoor terrace, sheltered from the rain ☔️ and the sun for customers who would like to enjoy their meal in the open-air. Inside, the restaurant room is bright and welcoming. The simple decoration with clear hues, wood and plants, is a reminder of the nature into which the city is immersed. The ocean’s presence is recalled by surfboards displayed at the entrance and in the restaurant.
Typical Japanese cuisine full courses
Hase Shokudo’s menu offers variations in several courses, all designed on the same base:
- A specific main dish; and,
- The following side dishes: miso soup, tsukemono pickles and other vegetables cooked "à la japonaise".
The whole course makes a well-balanced, delicious and hearty meal. The dishes’ names are barely translated in English in the menu, but it is enough for people who don’t read Japanese to place an order.
Most of the dishes include shirasu and are served:
- On a white rice bowl in the donburi fashion;
- With hot or cold udon noodles; or,
- Tempura vegetable fritters.
As for the shirasu, they can be cooked or served in 4 different ways:
- Nama shirasu, the whitebait is raw, fished from the day, and often served in a donburi, with white rice and seasoned with shoyu soy sauce;
- Kama-age shirasu, that is to say cooked in boiling water;
- Shirasuboshi, the fish was boiled and partially dried; or,
- Chirimenjako, the shirasu was boiled then thoroughly dried.
The lower the water content, the stronger the umami flavor of the fish is. The ideal season to eat fresh shirasu lasts from March to December, but its availability greatly depends on the morning fish which can be canceled due to bad weather conditions.
We recommend trying the donburi menu with the 2 most common ways of eating shirasu in Kamakura, that is to say raw and boiled. The restaurant also serves local fish dishes as donburi topped with local fish such as red tuna, octopus or cuttlefish. As for the drinks, we recommend the local Kamakura Beer 🍺 (Kamakura Star) and its several variations that was awarded in 2019 at the "World Beer Awards" international contest.
Lastly, for people (especially children) who would rather not eat fish juveniles, Hase Shokudo also has a limited yet delicious range of other dishes, such as Japanese curry, or food inspired by Hawaiian cuisine, such as "loco moco" a dish with rice, minced meat and egg, or the mouth-watering rainbow shaped "malasada" doughnuts.