Food, Japan, Travel

Lunch at Osaka’s Fish Market

The Izumisano Aozora-Ichiba market is a 100-metre long fish market packed with shops selling freshly caught seafood, some fruits and vegetables, flowers, and even crockeries. It was a bitter cold Saturday afternoon and we were hungry, so we decided to go check it out!

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We started our journey from Kansai International Airport and hopped on the Nankai line to Izumisano station, just two stops away. Just before exiting the station, we made a pitstop at the 100-yen shop for some heat packs. It was really, really cold out that day. Walking to the fish market would apparently take 15 minutes from the Izumisano station, but NOPE. Maybe if it was warmer, we’d walk… but not today. The taxi ride was a 10-minute journey and cost us less than 1000 yen. 500 yen each, beats walking any day!

The brown building looms in the distance, and we knew we’d arrived. Right outside the entrance were vendors selling piping hot takoyaki balls and grilled corn, but we hung on to our appetites and walked straight into the building for the main attraction.

When researching about the fish market, I read from various websites that it was a 100-metre long building with stores on both side. And 100-metre long it was indeed. I didn’t manage to take a picture inside, but we walked by shops after shops of fresh, still flapping fish, prawns, abalones and even crabs trying to escape from their box prisons.

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We were already starving, so we headed upstairs to the ‘restaurants’ the review sites had mentioned. There were no ‘restaurants’, there was only ONE restaurant. The other place was a cafe of some sorts that didn’t serve substantial hot food. AND, there was a queue. Of course, it was lunch time on a Saturday, what did we expect? The patrons were all Japanese locals, and one lady who was waiting with her husband and three kids was kind enough to point us towards the direction of a clipboard where we were supposed to write our names and wait for them to be called.

A good 15-20 minutes later, my name was finally called and we sprang up happily from our waiting spot, right in front of a barely there oscillating heater, and into the warm haven of the restaurant. We didn’t expect an English menu at such a local place like this, so we used our basic Japanese understanding of the words ‘sake‘ (salmon), ‘maguro‘ (tuna), ‘ebi‘ (shrimp) and a whole lot of finger pointing to pictures to order our food.
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For starters, we ordered a plate of sashimi which surprisingly didn’t include pieces of fresh raw salmon. That was the first. We were served a platter of freshly caught tuna, creamy tasting scallops, crunchy sea bream, pieces of squid, ikura (cod roe) and my personal favourite – sweet, cold water shrimps.

Carine had the Ikura don: cod roe and seaweed flakes served on rice with raw egg in the middle. Wasabi and lemon, and light soy sauce on the side for taste. I am not a fan of raw fish on rice, but she did really enjoyed her dish and after I sampled some, I was CONVERTED. She claimed that the Ikura didn’t have the ‘fishy’ taste she was so used to unlike the don in Singapore.

I ordered the Japanese version of fish and chips… without the chips. Pieces of fish fillets and a prawn covered in thick tempura batter was served right next to Japanese-grown salads and an itty bitty cherry tomato. I am no fish connoisseur therefore for the life of me, I had no idea what type of fish they served. But I had two springy and flavourful fish fillets and enjoyed the large prawn, but took two bites of the fish that had one too many tiny bones in it before giving up. I am not a fan of fish unless it comes without bones.

Carine, having not enough of the fresh ikura don decided to order a plate of Ebi fry, deep fried breaded prawns to munch on. Total damage for three plates of mains, one plate of sashimi and drinks: less than 3600 yen (~SGD43).

It may be pretty pricey, but by Japanese standards food isn’t exactly cheap. Not even the seafood they sold at the market as we discovered after lunch. At 230 pm, at an adjacent building, the bidding war starts.

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Crates and crates of literally freshly caught seafood arrived and there were lots of excitement. A group of men stood on a raised platform, eyeing the catch and bid for whatever seafood that suited their fancy. The workers in white would grab the blue crates, identifiable by the names painted on the sides, and stack them all up, ready for transport. Of course, in their haste, some fish might meet their fates on the dirty, wet floor of the fish market, but they’re careful enough to not let that many fish get away.

Taking one last stroll down the market, we noticed the expanded variety of seafood, newly brought in from the auctions. We were tempted by the big, fat oysters and I almost -ALMOST- pulled out my wallet on a box of ultra fresh uni (sea urchins). But they were really, really expensive. Almost 26 bucks for a box of uni was a huge indulgence I couldn’t afford.

How to get there:
Izumisano Aozora-Ichiba (泉佐野漁協青空市場)
2 Chome-5187-101 Shinmachi
10 minutes taxi away fromNankai line Izumisano station
or JR/Nankai Rinku Town station
Opening Hours: 1000 – 1800
Auction Hours: 1430 daily except Wednesday, Sundays and bad weather


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