When it’s -1°C inside your house, it might be difficult to appreciate the Japanese winter, but I am always looking forward the coldest months of the year to go eat oysters in Hinase, a small harbor town in Okayama Prefecture.
Hinase is famous in Japan for oyster okonomiyaki which are only served in winter, the town actually ranks ninth at the 2011 B-1 Gourmet competition.
If you ever visit Hinase, you will have your pick of shops, but my current favorite is Arata.
Arata is about 2 min from the harbor and a short walk from Hinase station. If you plan to visit Hinase, I suggest that you go early since the place gets a bit insane at lunch time with gastro-tourist coming from far away to try the famous oysters. I once waited almost 2 hours are Arata in high season.
Arata is tiny!
It’s pretty much a one room building added in the front yard of an old Japanese house. There is 3 small tables, but the best place to sit is at the hot plate. The two old ladies running the shop are very chatty and remembered us when we walked in.
We always start our meal with an order of oppai yaki which are simply oysters sauteed with green onions and a dash of soy sauce.
Oppai in Japanese means breast and it’s a bit odd to order fried breast, but these plump oysters are incredible.
The okonomiyaki is simple and they certainly don’t skimp on the oysters.
We ate directly on the hot plate and the lady offered us a spicy okonomiyaki sauce which is pretty unique compared to the generic sauce found almost everywhere. The okonomiyaki at Arata is a mix Hiroshima and Kansai style. While it’s possible to order the okonomiyaki with some noodles, I strongly recommend the plain version.
I will probably head back to Hinase before the end of the oyster season and trust me I will get there early.
When I visit Hinase, I always stop at a small oyster packaging factory where we buy fresh oysters.
it’s a little bit out of the way, but if you want to buy fresh oysters, there is a fish market near the harbor.
Do you have a favorite spot in Hinase, don’t hesitate to share in the comment section.