A Taste of the Sea in Aomori

Your Japan experience will never be complete without indulging yourself with fresh high quality seafood. If you’re a picky eater like me (I usually don’t like to eat some kinds of seafood like awabi (abalone) tai (sea bream) sanma (pacific saury), etc) then ‘Nokke-don’ is perfect for you! Nokke-don (which means rice bowl with toppings) is one of the most popular dishes in Aomori City. The dish is very simple, yet gives your stomach great satisfaction! It is very easy to make, but maybe one of the challenges will be finding the perfect combination of toppings from the wide array of options (seafood, veggies, egg, etc.) available. Most importantly, you also want to get your money’s worth too!

Making your Nokke-don only involves three steps! First, buy a stub of food tickets that is either worth 540 yen (5 tickets) or 1080 yen (10 tickets) (***prices have now risen to 630/1300 yen! 🙁 ***). Second, one you’ve been given a bowl of rice you can now select your favorite toppings in exchange for your tickets. The number of tickets you exchange with the vendor may vary depending on the topping you want, but most will set you back 1-2 tickets. And the last step – find a seat in the designated dining area and enjoy your nokke-don!

The only misconception we had during the whole experience was that we were never sure if we had enough toppings for our rice. We found out the stub of tickets worth 1,080 yen was actually enough for a big bowl of rice. My travel buddies Tin and Joey even thought of having another serving of rice just to finish their toppings. We all loved the Nokke-don system because we got to personalize our own bowl and its one of the great memories we will keep after leaving Japan. It gave us the precious opportunity to interact with the locals and it tested our budgeting abilities too!

Furukawa Fish Market is only a few minutes away from Aomori station. Pretty sure you will not get lost – even if you do, all you have to do is ask for directions or check your google map! Be sure to scout-out what’s on offer from all the stalls first before you choose your toppings, so you get to eat all you favorite seafood sashimi and other side dishes too! If you’re not into sashimi, there is a selection of fried fish, meats and vegetables to choose from too,  as well as miso-soup filled with crab meat or scallops!

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