Shonan’s local cuisine is literally “a little fishy”

ByJason Gatewood
Aug 31, 2020

Shonan’s local cuisine is literally “a little fishy”

The Shonan area is synonymous with “laidback beach culture,” so it is safe to assume the local fare is geared towards enjoying time by the sea with friends and taking things a little slow. The local fare also represents the ocean; Sagami Bay is the reason Shonan exists, after all, so we can reasonably expect there’s some seafood involved. Lastly, we should consider the fact that Shonan borrows heavily from its cousin beachside regions in the world; the Italian Riviera, the Australian Gold Coast, the Californian beach cities. In these places, Surfside cafes and stands are ubiquitous, and so you’ll definitely find emulation beachside restaurants, food trucks, and stands all over the Shonan coast serving a variety of cuisines such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and yakisoba from near, and burgers, tacos, kebab from afar. But there’s one food that is local to the area that you’ll find at all these places…

Shonan Shirasu

Shirasu is a category of fish used to make a few Japanese dishes that, at first glance, may make you feel squeamish depending on your comfort level with sea creatures. The types of fish used can be either herring, sardines, or anchovies caught in their juvenile stages from the Pacific Ocean, measuring only a few centimeters long. Vessels from the area bring back their haul mostly in spring and fall.

On the rice!

Perhaps the most well known of all Shonan foods would be Shitasu-donburi, which is a straightforward dish made of white rice with dried and salted Shirasu baby fish on top. Shirasu over rice is prepared a variety of ways, is eaten at any time as a meal, side or appetizer, and can be found almost anywhere.

On the pasta!

Another variation that is very local to the area is Shirasu pasta. Lightly sauté Shirasu with garlic in olive oil or sesame seed oil until golden, then add in pre-boiled pasta along with salt, pepper, and cabbage. Garnish with seaweed, peperoncino, and Shiso leaves to taste!

On the…pizza?!

You had to know this was coming. Rule 84 of JapanLife states, “If it is edible in Japan, there is a pizza made out of it.” Shirasu, as a pizza topping, is usually seen as a refreshing taste of summer for most who grew up in the area. Pretty much sold by any outfit making pizzas in Japan, but especially in Shona. If you like anchovies, this isn’t as salty. If you like calamari on your pizza, the taste is about the same.

The Shirasu Master

Perhaps the best place to go to try all these dishes for the first time would be to head to Tobitcho due to the reasonable prices, well-sized portions, and the freshness. There are four locations; three are on Enoshima Island itself, and the fourth is inside the Terrace Mall, next to Tsujido Station. And yes, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, please try their selection of soft-serve ice cream topped with you-know-what!

Images via Selena Lum, Shirasu.babysardine, CC BY-SA 3.0; Tobiccho Shirasu Wholesale & Restaurants, and Pixabay

About the author

Jason Gatewood editor

Our Tokyo based collaborator is a tech nerd, Japanophile, train nut, and a veritable fountain of information on Japan. His current goal is to watch Evangelion and actually "get it", sing every permutation of "Hotel California" at any karaoke gathering, ride every bullet train line, and sample all varieties of ramen throughout Japan. Catch more of his musings at · http://jlgatewood.com