Tsuruga/Wakasa Gourmet Column

When is the best time to enjoy cold yellowtail? Characteristics and recommendations for yellowtail in the Reinan (Tsuruga and Wakasa) area.

Among yellowtail, the cold yellowtail landed in winter is a high-end food with a lot of fat and full of flavor. The best time to eat yellowtail is from late November to early February, and yellowtail caught in the Reinan area in particular has a reputation for being superb. This section provides an overview of yellowtail, the best time to eat it, and the unique characteristics of yellowtail caught in the Reinan area, which has a large catch of yellowtail in the cold season. Please also check out the recommended restaurants where you can enjoy cold yellowtail dishes.

What is cold yellowtail? Difference from regular yellowtail and its season

First, we will introduce the characteristics of cold yellowtail and its season. Let's learn the difference from regular yellowtail and explore the charm of cold yellowtail.

Natural yellowtail landed in winter

Cold yellowtail are yellowtail landed in the winter. Yellowtail that have eaten a lot of food from fall to winter in order to spawn and survive the cold winter, and have stored up nutrients, are called "cold yellowtail".

The difference from ordinary yellowtail is its body shape and sashi.

Yellowtail and cold yellowtail differ in size and appearance.
Yellowtail landed outside of winter Thin and thin
Cold yellowtail landed in winter Dark-colored terns, well-fattened
Cold yellowtail is characterized by its fatty, firm flesh and full of flavor.

The best season for cold yellowtail is from late November to early February.

The season for cold yellowtail is said to be from late November to early February. After summer ends, they swim from Hokkaido to the Sea of Japan for spawning, and then head south to Kyushu. They are landed around the end of November when they are moving south. Be sure to try the taste that is only available during this season.

What is Reinan's unique cold yellowtail?

The cold yellowtail caught in the Reinan area is characterized by its firm body and nutritional reserves due to being caught in rough seas. Here, we introduce "Wakasa cold yellowtail," which is unique to the Reinan area, and "Hiruga Hibiki," a brand-name cold yellowtail from the town of Mihama.

Well-known "Wakasa cold yellowtail" with firm flesh

The cold yellowtail caught in the Reinan area located on the Sea of Japan side has long been famous as "Wakasa's cold yellowtail. The yellowtail swims in rough seas, which makes its flesh firm and fatty.

Wakasa Bay is where the cold currents from the Sea of Japan and the warm currents of the Tsushima Current from the south meet, and when the currents collide, nutrients from the deep sea rise to the surface and feed the fish. It is said that the taste of the cold yellowtail that feeds on this nutrient-rich food becomes exceptionally delicious.

Mihama Town's brand name fish, "Hiruga Hibiki

Among the cold yellowtail caught in Wakasa Bay, those that meet certain conditions are called "hirugahibiki. The conditions are as follows

1. cold yellowtail landed in Hyuga, Mihama-cho, Fukui Prefecture, between late November and January
2. have undergone the three processes of katsukeshi, blood removal, and nerve drainage
3. weighs at least 8 kg and the fish must be of excellent quality

Only fish that meet all three of the above requirements are called "Hiruga Hibiki" brand fish.

The process of "kikkeshi" involves directly scooping large yellowtail caught in a net and bringing them home alive without wringing them out. The fish are then drained of blood, which causes the fish to smell foul, and the nerves are drained to delay rigor mortis and keep them fresh. These processes prolong the freshness of the fish and ensure that no odor remains in the meat.

Restaurants serving delicious cold yellowtail in the Reinan area

The Reinan area faces the sea, and cold yellowtail is landed from Wakasa Bay and other areas during the winter. The following is a list of restaurants in the area that serve dishes using cold yellowtail. We hope you will visit one of them.

Shabu-shabu (shabu-shabu with fresh cold yellowtail) is popular "Gyosantei Restaurant"


Fresh yellowtail shabu-shabu served on a plate

The restaurant is proud of its fish dishes, with seasonal fish purchased and served daily. Enjoy the seasonal taste of Wakasa's ingredients, and in winter, you can even try yellowtail shabu-shabu. Fugu (blowfish) and crab can be ordered as a course all year round. The set meal menu includes a wide variety of dishes such as tempura, fried shrimp, and grilled fish, and is also very generous in volume.
Address 27-3 Shirotori Kaigan, Obama City, Fukui 917-0051
Telephone number 0770-52-6833
Business hours Lunch 11:00-14:30 (Sat., Sun. 11:00-15:00)
Dinner 17:00-22:00 (Sat, Sun 17:00-22:00)
Closed Tuesdays, December 31 after 14:00, January 1
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site Restaurant Gyosantei (お食事処魚山亭)

Sushi Restaurant "Sushi Shimakawa" Continues to Pursue Deliciousness


Exterior view of Sushi Shimakawa

Sushi Shimakawa is a sushi restaurant that specializes in natural seafood caught in Wakasa Bay, such as mackerel, sea bream, and wakasa guji. The menu changes according to availability, and cold yellowtail is served during the winter season. Reservations are required at least two days in advance, but if space is available, reservations are accepted even on the same day. Feel free to inquire.

Take-out items are sold at "Wakasa Sushi Tomi," a section specializing in take-out. Check out the popular dashimaki tamago (rolled egg) and upside-down sushi.
Address 83-1 Obama Hiromine, Obama City, Fukui 917-0084
Telephone number 0770-53-0337
Business hours 12:00-14:00
Closed Tuesday-Thursday noon
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference Site Sushi Shimakawa (寿し島川) | Wakasa Sushi Tomi (若狭鮨富)

"Aji-Ichikyu" offers a luxurious cold yellowtail course


Aji-Ichikyu's sumptuous course meals

Aji-Ichikyu serves seasonal delicacies from Wakasa Bay, and from late December to mid-January, you can enjoy a cold yellowtail course. Reservations are required and can be made for a minimum of two people. The cold yellowtail course also features "Hirugahibiki," the highest quality of cold yellowtail available.

Various types of rooms are available, including private rooms and tatami rooms as well as tables. There is also a kids' space where picture books can be read and a rest area, so families can spend a relaxing time together.
Address 80-3, Kugushi, Mihama-cho, Mikata-gun, Fukui 919-1123, Japan
Telephone number 0770-32-0152
Business hours Lunch 11:00-14:00
Evening (reservation required) 17:00-19:00 (L.O.19:00)
Closed No regular holidays
Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site Aji-Ichikyu (味一休)

Freshness of seasonal fish directly from the market is the pride of "Gokai Teppan Yaki Umibouzu".

Teppanyaki ingredients on a plate
This is a restaurant directly operated by a fresh fish restaurant located in the "Nihonkai Sakana Machi" seafood market in Tsuruga City. Fresh and reasonably priced fish and shellfish are stocked and served daily, and in winter, you can enjoy eating cold yellowtail with plenty of fat on it.
The main dish is teppan-yaki seafood, but sashimi and kaisen donburi (seafood rice bowl) are also available. The specialty is umibou-don, a bowl of rice topped with an overflowing bowl of 20 different items. The gorgeous bowl of rice topped with a whole botan shrimp is a gorgeous sight.
Address 1-1531 Wakaba-cho, Tsuruga City, Fukui 914-0125, Japan Sea Fish Town
(福井県敦賀市若葉町1-1531 日本海さかな街内)
Telephone number 0770-47-5594 
Business hours 10:00〜17:00
Closed Same as Nihonkai Sakana Machi
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site Gokai Teppan Yaki Umibozu (豪快鉄板焼き 海坊主)

Check out the delicious season of cold yellowtail and go enjoy the seasonal taste!

Unlike ordinary yellowtail, cold yellowtail is fat and well-fattened. In Mihama Town, the brand-name fish "Hiruga Hibiki" is attracting attention as the best cold yellowtail. Why not go there to taste the seasonal cold yellowtail?

The information is current as of January 2024. The information is subject to change without notice.
All prices shown in the article include consumption tax.