Hachinohe Bouillabaisse Festa – absolutely a reason to go north in winter

I’m not very fond of cold weather, which is perhaps one reason I particularly love the soothing steam of a good hot bowl of soup when I come in from the cold. I daresay I’m not alone in these sentiments.

The Tohoku region of Japan, famously cold and snowy in winter, has many hearty winter foods.  My personal favorite, believe it or not, is bouillabaisse.  Yes, bouillabaisse, that Provençal dish popularized in the fishing port of Marseille. Like many other things that originated elsewhere, Japan (or at least Hachinohe) has picked this one up and made it its own.  To my mind, such adoption/adaption is always okay, but in the case of bouillabaise, a dish that appears to have originated in Greece and even features in Roman mythology, obviously everyone is doing it.  So why not?

During the months of February and March every year since 2012, Hachinohe, a major fishing port of Aomori Prefecture, hosts the Hachinohe Bouillabaisse Festa.

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It all began when some locals saw a photograph of the Marseille fishing port and were struck by how much it looked like Hachinohe’s fishing port.  They then learned of the Marseillaise tradition of bouillabaisse–originally a home-made stew for the fishermen using bony fish that was otherwise difficult to sell–and, liking the idea, adopted it for Hachinohe.

Sixteen local restaurants are participating in the 2018 festa.  In keeping with the traditions of Marseille, where it is said each household has its own special recipe for bouillabaisse, each restaurant offers their own take on the hearty fish stew.  When we dined at the Restaurant Azalea at the Hachinohe Park Hotel, we were very lucky that the chef stopped by our table to explain his version.

 

Apparently the only firm “rule” of the Hachinohe “Festa” is that the stew must include at least four types of locally-caught fish as well as locally-grown herbs and vegetables.

Participating restaurants offer their bouillabaisse as part of a set meal that usually includes a salad or other appetizer, the stew, rice or bread, and sometimes coffee and dessert.  Some restaurants offer the traditional rouille-type mayonnaise and toast as part of the meal, lending further authenticity to the dish.  The meal I had finished with an excellent cod risotto.

 

And what better ending to a bouillabaisse meal in Aomori Prefecture than a dessert of baked apple!

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I could very happily spend a wintry week in Hachinohe just eating a different version of bouillabaise for each meal and enjoying the other sights of the city.  Alas, I had time for only one such delicious meal, the memory of which continues to tempt me to return.

The 2018 participating restaurants are shown below (or click on points in the map on the bottom to select a restaurant based on location):

Voila (ボワラ)

  • Location: 3-1-9 Minatotakadai
  • Phone: 0178-80-7558
  • Open for lunch (12:00-14:00) Tuesday through Saturday and dinner (18:00-21:00) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays.
  • Lunch set: 2,500
  • Dinner set: 3,800

Bistro Sukegawa (ビストロ Sukegawa)

  • Location: Axis Bldg., 1F, 30-1 Mikkamachi
  • Phone: 0178-45-0557
  • Open for lunch (12:00-13:00) Wednesday through Sunday and dinner (18:00-21:00) Tuesday through Sunday; closed Mondays.
  • Dinner set: 4,100 (advance reservations required)
  • Bouillabaisse lunch is also available upon special advance arrangement

Hotel Grandsunpia Hachinohe (グランドサンピア八戸)

  • Location: 1-1-1 Higashi Hakusan-dai
  • Phone: 0178-23-5151
  • Open daily for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:30-20:30)
  • Lunch or dinner set: JPY2,970

Hachinohe Grand Hotel Restaurant Savarosso (八戸グランドホテル・ラウンジレストラン サヴァロッソ)

  • Location: 14 Bancho
  • Phone: 0178-46-1234
  • Open daily for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:30-20:00)
  • Lunch set: JPY2,500
  • Dinner set: JPY3,200

Nofu Kitchen Yui (農風kitchen Yui)

  • Location: Gray’s Bancho Bldg., 1F, 25 Bancho
  • Phone: 0178-44-3035
  • Open for lunch (11:00-14:30) and dinner (17:00-22:00) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays and third Monday of the month.
  • Lunch set: JPY2,000
  • Dinner set: JPY2,800

Bar Saude (バール・サウージ)

  • Location: 1-1-5 Uchimaru
  • Phone: 0178-38-9019
  • Open for dinner (17:30-23:30) Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sundays and Mondays.
  • Dinner set: 3,500 (two person pot)

Casual French North 40-40 (カジュアルフレンチNorth40-40)

  • Location: 2-7-14 Sakuracho Misawa City
  • Phone: 0176-58-7091
  • Open for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:30-21:00) Thursday through Tuesday; closed Wednesdays
  • Lunch set: JPY2,400
  • Dinner set: JPY3,500

le mouron de oiseaux (ル・ムロン・デ・オワゾ)

  • Location: 3-1-1 Higashi Hakusan-dai
  • Phone: 0178-51-8727
  • Open for lunch (12:00-14:00) and dinner (18:00-21:00) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays.
  • Lunch or dinner set: JPY3,800

kitchen pourtoi (kitchenプルトワ)

  • Location: 5-21-11 Tamukai, Korekawa
  • Phone: 0178-38-8764
  • Open for dinner (18:00-22:00) Tuesday through Sunday; closed Mondays.
  • Dinner set: 3,800

Restaurant Azalea, Hachinohe Park Hotel (八戸パークホテルレストラン アゼリア)

  • Location: 1-15-90 Fukiage
  • Phone: 0178-43-1111
  • Open daily for lunch (11:00-14:00) and dinner (17:00-20:30)
  • Lunch or dinner set: JPY3,200

La Famille (食彩工房ラ・ファミーユ)

  • Location: 83-5 Myo Obiraki
  • Phone: 0178-32-7090
  • Open for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:00-19:30) Friday through Wednesday; closed Thursdays
  • Lunch or dinner set: JPY3,456

Restaurant Shiosai, Hachinohe Seagull View Hotel(八戸シーガルビューホテル)

  • Location: 9-19 Kofunatodai, Samemachi
  • Phone: 0178-33-3636
  • Open daily for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:30-20:00)
  • Lunch set: JPY2,500
  • Dinner set: JPY3,500

Casa del Cibo (カーサ・デル・チーボ)

  • Location: 1-19-6 Minatotakadai
  • Phone: 0178-20-9646
  • Open for lunch (11:00-13:30) and dinner (18:00-20:30) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays and second Monday of the month.
  • Lunch or dinner set: JPY3,500

Ristorante SAWAUCHI (リストランテ澤内)

  • Location: 1-12-1 Minami Ruike
  • Phone: 0178-22-7638
  • Open for lunch (11:30-13:30) and dinner (17:30-21:30) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays
  • Lunch set: JPY2,500
  • Dinner set: JPY3,500

Restaurant Juno, Hachinohe Plaza Hotel (八戸プラザホテル)

  • Location: 1-6-6 Kashiwazaki
  • Phone: 0178-44-3121
  • Open daily for lunch (11:30-14:00) and dinner (17:00-20:00)
  • Lunch set: JPY2,200
  • Dinner set: JPY3,300

Bistro Pot d’Etain (ビストロ ポ・デタン)

  • Location: 2 Bancho
  • Phone: 0178-22-3383
  • Open for lunch (11:30-13:30) and dinner (18:00-22:00) Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays
  • Lunch set: JPY2,160
  • Dinner set: JPY3,780

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