Japan’s Izu Peninsula a seafood-lovers’ paradise
The Izu Peninsula south west of Tokyo on Japan’s main island, Honshu, is known for its abundance of marine life due to the influence of the Kuroshio (Black Current or Black Stream), a warm north-flowing ocean current on the west side of the North Pacific Ocean. Coastal fishing has prospered here since ancient times so it was no surprise to see a proliferation of fresh fish and shellfish on the Izu Geo Trail menus, writes Justine Tyerman . . .
The Walk Japan website says that they cannot recommend the Izu Geo Trail for those who do not like seafood . . . and they are right to be upfront. The cuisine served at the traditional Japanese inns we stayed at during our six-night, seven-day hiking tour of the Izu Peninsula was a veritable feast of fresh seafood, much of it sashimi, as well as seasonal vegetables.
The seafood was sensational, especially served with freshly-grated wasabi from the Amagi Highland, another Izu speciality.
The 10-course dinner at Suiko Inn on our first night on tour, as translated by our tour guide Yohei, consisted of: kiyomi orange sake, broccoli tofu with caviar, wasabi and petal of lily bulb, clams with grated horse radish, bamboo jelly, beef shigure, ise-ebi lobster and sashimi of local fish, local red snapper and pork from Shizuoka, water celery, spring onion, shiitake, tofu, yuzu (citrus fruit), Spanish mackerel with miso, vinegared Japanese ginger, spinach, savoury egg custard, lily bulb and sweet chestnut shrimps, pickled and fried mackerel, cucumber, yam, fresh abalone cooked in sake, rice, seaweed miso soup, pickled vegetables, plum sake, and lychee pudding with apple, grape and cherry.
The artistry of the presentation was sublime and the flavours and textures were delicate, fresh, light, clean and without the bulk often associated with Kiwi cuisine, so I did not feel weighed down as I often do after dinner at home.
And using chopsticks means you eat small portions and take time to savour and appreciate each mouthful. Dinner was a leisurely affair, lasting about two hours allowing plenty of time for conversation.
Walk Japan also offers special gastronomy tours which take the celebration of the quintessential Japanese art of dining to an even higher level, ideal for all-out foodies and gourmets.
See also this story on Justine Tyerman's trip to Japan.