Marutomi Shokudo came highly recommended by the hotel’s front desk and was within walking distance from where we’d stayed. When we arrived at 1.30pm, there were at least five people already seated in the waiting area and two people waiting outside the door. Now, whenever my family gathers together and fondly recalls our trip to Hokkaido, Marutomi Shokudo would always be mentioned as one of the top 3 places we’d dined at.
5-6-1 Minato-Cho, Monbetsu City, Hokkaido, Japan, +81-158-24-1188
Located along the coast facing the Sea of Okhotsk, Marutomi is situated at the corner of a set of buildings and faces the fishing port where boats come in each morning with a dazzling array of seafood.
Mind- blown. Around $20 for a bowl of rice covered in a generous assortment of extremely fresh and thick sashimi slices ranging from salmon to scallops, it’s definitely a tough one to beat.
To go: Yes, definitely!
Monbetsu city is rather small with not a lot to see, but if you do pass by from Abashiri, Kitami or Sounkyo, Marutomi is more than worth your while. The seafood was incredibly, incredibly fresh, and the servings were very generous, although you might wish to note that they speak no English. We arrived with only 45 minutes to go before they closed for the afternoon and when they finally had sufficient seating, we had a bit of trouble explaining that we were willing to clear out within 20 minutes before they ushered us inside. Seating was comfortable (some along the bar counter, and about three 4-6 seater tables to the right) but limited, so it would be wise to go earlier where possible.
A MORE DETAILED REVIEW
We were first served a springy, tender cuttlefish for dipping in a light mayonnaise. The grilled items were good, but the sashimi really stole the entire show – imagine a smooth, thick slice of fish, bending to your bite before breaking into a fresh melting tenderness. The ikura (roe) were bright orange spheres, bursting in the mouth to unleash an intense explosion of flavour. I thought I knew fresh seafood until I dined at Marutomi. We cleared out within 20 minutes as promised, and yet, this rushed meal was easily at the top of the charts. Truly, this is just one of the things you have to taste to believe.