Not for the squeamish, if you cannot bear the sight of seafood grilled alive, please avoid reading this blog. There are many live seafood being thrown on an open grill.
Okinawa izakaya feel
Isomaru Suisan Bar is a restaurant that’s open 24/7. It’s decor is cheesy with whimsical beachfront vibe and splashes of vibrant colour from the signs and the flags traditionally flown from Japanese fishing boats that reminds one of Okinawa.
The main fare is fresh seafood, including sashimi, crab and scallops.
Every shop has live seafood like abalone, clams and fish suitable for sashimi.
When you arrive at the restaurant you get a small side dish (otooshi おとし) which you can grill by yourself at the table and is included in your table charge.
This style is called hamayaki, (浜焼き), which literarily means to “cook at the beach”. The expression comes from the fisherman’s lifestyle in the old days where they would grill the freshly caught seafood right after arrival on the shore.
We ordered a couple of live clams as it was supper and not eat to much – ホッキ貝 hokkigai, also know as the surf clam or Pacific clam, and サザエ sazae, called turban shell.
We have been warned that turban shell can explode on the grill if the cap is not popped properly and pressure starts building inside the shell. Exciting!
ホッキ貝の殻焼 hokkigai karayaki – grilled live surf clam on the half shell. As the liquid boils on the half shelf, the clam is ready. You may add some butter and wakame soy sauce to enhance the taste, but I find the clam already filled with umami.
If seeing a living thing agonising on the grill is not your idea of good eats, don’t play the video.
Awabi are fist-sized sea snails, which are otherwise known as abalone in English speaking countries. They live in the sea around Japan at a depth of approximately twenty meters. They are usually caught by skin divers, as it is prohibited to catch awabi while using air tanks in Japan in order to prevent overfishing. Given their declining numbers and the effort required to catch them, awabi are rare and expensive, especially big ones. It takes five years for them to grow to a size of four inches.
The liver of the abalone is creamy and bitter if it’s female abalone. Male abalone has white liver, while the female is green. One may opt to remove the liver and other innards, but they can also be eaten if one is not squeamish about the texture. Butter and soy sauce are often used to enrich the flavor, and the cooked flesh has a softer texture.
In Okinawa, Japan, where it is known as umi-budō (海ぶどう), meaning “sea grapes”, this seaweed is one of the favored species of edible Caulerpa due to its soft and succulent texture. It is usually eaten raw with vinegar, as a snack or in a salad and is believed to have several health benefits including diabetes and lipid lowering properties.
Isomaru serves the sea grape with a sweet vinegar (ponzu) sauce on the side.
The side dishes we ordered – 白海老唐揚 shrimp karaage, まぐろ山かけ mountain yam over tuna mountain, 海ぶどうサラダ sea grape salad – came in the middle of the meal. If only they come early in the meals so that we can munch and wait for the seafood to cook. The shrimp karaage used Japanese glass shrimp that would not grow bigger than 80mm. Lightly coated with flour and deep fried, it is very crispy. Tuna with mountain yam is a very nice appetiser, just pour sashimi soy sauce over it and mix well.
The only negative thing about this restaurant that I should mention is that smoking is allowed inside the restaurant, so prepare to get smelly.. Despite this rather large minus point this restaurant is still worth a visit if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese dining experience.
Isomaru 磯丸水産 赤坂見附店
〒107-0052 東京都港区赤坂3-8-18 1・2F
Tel : 050-3464-2361
Date Visited : Jun 2019