By Steve Scorgo
Now that your Kashiwazaki sightseeing itenery is complete, its time to eat! Kashiwazaki has an fantastic collection of mouthwatering and unique treats that will please the pallate of any Japanese food-lover!
Gorge on Fresh Seafood Straight from the sea!
Near Two Lovers Point is the Sea of Japan Fisherman’s Cape. Similar to Niigata City’s beloved Pier Bandai, this jovial marketplace is the direct outlet for the freshest catches from Kashiwazaki’s fishing community. Along with tuna, salmon, crab, sea urchin, and much, much more, the most popular and unique food here is the saba sandwich – a juicy piece of local mackerel with onion and lettuce between a roll of fluffy bread. After topping it off with your choice of seasoning and taking a bite, you’ll soon realize that one won’t be enough!
Tai-chazuke – Kashiwazaki’s Local Delicacy
Like most of Niigata, Kashiwazaki has its own unique gourmet culture. The region’s most famous dish is tai-chazuke, a local spin on the popular ocha-zuke that incorporates red snapper fish, known as tai (鯛) in Japanese. Like all ocha-zuke, the dish is served as a bowl of rice with the ingredients placed on top. These ingredients differ between recipe, with many restaurants striving to create their own unique version, but will commonly include roasted mochi pieces, wasabi, salmon roe, sesame seeds, various seaweeds, and, in Kashiwazaki, the red snapper fish. Your dish will come with a pot of piping hot dashi soup or tea to pour over your meal and fuse the ingredients. Once it has cooled down, dig in! It’s absolutely delicious and worth trying at a few different restaurants around town to taste the differences! My personal recommendation is the tai-chazuke served at the Metropolitan Matsushima Hotel’s restaurant near Kujiranami Station (pictured).
It Wouldn’t be Niigata Without Sake!
Almost every region of Niigata has its own unique sake brew, and Kashiwazaki is no exception! Hara Shuzo brewery (pictured) is right in the center of Kashiwazaki City, making it the most convenient place to delve into the local sake culture! While much of the brewery’s original building was destroyed in the 2007 Chuetsu offshore earthquake, their new building is a refreshingly modern redesign that cleverly pays tribute to the original. Hara Shuzo have a huge sake range covering all kinds of tastes, including a carbonated sweet sake awa-shu for those not good with dry-tasting drinks. They also have a tasting course (suspended due to COVID-19), along with rare Kashiwazaki-only sakes to try and buy!
Other breweries include Ishizuka Shuzu, which has a free tour and tasting session, and the classy Abe Shuzu, who don’t offer a tour but have a small shop selling their beverages direct from the brewery. Both breweries are worth visiting but are out of town and require a car. Always confirm details online before visiting a brewery.