Since the month of December tends to be the busiest and most plentiful for crabs, it’s no wonder that the winter month boasts a delicious spike in availability for the crustaceans across Japan. During the winter, crab imports from the Sea of Japan spread throughout the country providing restaurants and homes with tasty crab dishes to try.
The Kansai region, in particular, has many options for testing out the season’s fresh crab catch. Check out some of the area’s best places for winter crab!
You might know this restaurant from various locations in Japan by the big dancing red crab on top of the sign. Kani Douraku was so popular for its delicious crab and seafood dishes that it spread across Japan, but its original home is in Osaka. The first restaurant is located in the central area of Osaka, but now there are 15 other branches around Osaka, as well as multiple locations in Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, and other Kansai cities!
There are many dishes on the menu to try out with pictures and multiple languages to help you decide. You can get your fill of fresh snow crab or king crab served up in a hot pot, sashimi, tempura, grilled, boiled, and steamed dishes. This restaurant is extremely popular during the winter season and for good reason. The crab cuisine served here is hailed as some of the best in Japan! Be sure to make a reservation online before you arrive so you can avoid the long line of people anxiously waiting for their crab dinners!
Kani Douraku (Kobe Harborland)
Where: 〒650-0044 Hyōgo Prefecture, Kobe, Chuo Ward, Higashikawasakicho, 1 Chome−5−７ 神戸情報文化ビル1階 (map link)
Website (English): http://douraku.co.jp.e.at.hp.transer.com/
If you’re interested in getting your crab fix under a bit more of seclusion, you should definitely consider a single day or multiple day trips to Kinosaki Hot Springs. Located roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes outside of Osaka by train, this remote and gorgeous location offers 7 different public baths for you to relax in, as well as an unbeatable menu that’s well worth the trip! Although the onsen would be reason alone to make this trip, the season’s catch of crab makes Kinosaki Hot Springs a must-try destination for tasting delicious winter crab.
For crab tasting, you have the options to choose a set meal or order various items a la carte. The smaller set meals start from 3,500 yen and the larger options start at 6,800 yen with many courses of crab cooked in different, tasty ways. A la carte items that are popular are grilled crab with rice and salmon roe and plainly grilled snow crab which ranges between 1,300 yen and 1,600 yen. Crab season runs from November-March here, but these hot springs can get crowded so if you can, try and travel during the weekdays!
Kinosaki Hot Springs
Where: Accessible by train from all over Kansai region, Kinosakichō Yushima, Toyooka City, Hyōgo Prefecture 669-6101
Website (English): http://www.kinosaki-spa.gr.jp/global/index.html