Tsuruga/Wakasa Gourmet Column

When is mackerel in season? Five delicious mackerel restaurants in the Reinan (Tsuruga/Wakasa) area of Fukui Prefecture

Saba (mackerel) is a familiar food for the people of the Reinan area, where the Saba Kaido (mackerel road) runs from Obama to Kyoto.
Saba is generally in season from fall to winter, but in Fukui Prefecture there is a custom of eating grilled saba (mackerel) in early July.
The following is a list of the best times to enjoy mackerel in the Reinan area, as well as restaurants that serve the famous mackerel dish.
Go and enjoy the unique flavors of the Reinan area.

When is mackerel in season? Mackerel in the Reinan area is available all year round!

Mackerel found in the market can be divided into three types: Mackerel, sesame mackerel, and Atlantic mackerel. The season for mackerel, which is commonly eaten in Japan, is from fall to winter, but the season may differ depending on the area of production. The following is an introduction to the general mackerel season and when mackerel can be enjoyed in the Yeongnam area.

The general mackerel season is from fall to winter

There are three types of mackerel: Mackerel, sesame mackerel, and Atlantic mackerel, and the season differs depending on the type and region of origin. Mackerel commonly eaten in Japan are in season from fall to winter. However, depending on the region, some mackerel are in season in spring or summer.

Types and Seasonality of Mackerel

Types of mackerel When in season
Mackerel November to February
Sesame mackerel, Atlantic mackerel All year round
The season for domestic mackerel by region is as follows

Domestic Mackerel Season

Name of mackerel Place of production Season
Maeoki Mackerel Aomori Pref. September to November
Kinka Saba (mackerel) Miyagi Pref. September - January
Matsuwa Saba (mackerel) Kanagawa Prefecture August to September
Obama Yoppari Mackerel Fukui Pref. All year round
Oyasaba Mackerel Tottori Pref. March to May
Shimizu Mackerel Kochi Pref. October to February
Seki Mackerel Oita Pref. October - March
Karatsu Q Saba Saga Pref. Year-round

Obama Yoppari Mackerel caught in Obama, Fukui Prefecture are in season all year round.

Obama yobara saba, a brand-name mackerel from Obama, Fukui Prefecture, is farm-raised, so it can be said to be in season throughout the year. Because farmed mackerel is landed only after receiving an order, it is always fresh and ready to eat.

The secret to the deliciousness of Obama Yoppari Saba is "sakekasu" (sake lees).

Obama yobara mackerel grow up on a diet of mackerel-specific formula feed and sakekasu (sake lees). When sakekasu is mixed in with the feed, the amino acids in the sakekasu eliminate the fishy smell and give the mackerel a subtle freshness and sweetness.

Sashimi is the best way to enjoy Obama yobara saba. This is because the fat content is adjusted to be just right for sashimi. We ship the fish under strict control to ensure freshness so that you can eat sashimi with peace of mind. Because the fish is fed with compound feed, there is no need to worry about anisakis, a parasitic worm. Please enjoy safe, fresh Obama Yobara Mackerel.

3 Mackerel Dishes to Try in the Reinan Area

The most popular mackerel dishes in the Reinan area are "hama-yaki" (grilled mackerel), "saba-zushi" (mackerel sushi), and sashimi. All of these dishes are standard in Fukui Prefecture. Why not enjoy the unique flavors of the area?

chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Hamayaki saba refers to grilled whole mackerel. It is characterized by the time-consuming grilling process through a bamboo skewer. You will be able to eat one with just the right amount of fat.

You can eat it as it is, but we also recommend dipping it in ginger soy sauce. It is Fukui's soul food sold at supermarkets, restaurants, and many other places.

pressed sushi with mackerel sushi

Saba-zushi is sushi made with shime saba (mackerel). It was created during the Edo period (1603-1867) to transport mackerel to Kyoto via the saba kaido (mackerel road). In Fukui, where mackerel can be prepared the same day it is caught, fresh mackerel sushi is made with freshly caught mackerel.

Vinegared sushi is the most common way to remove the blood and reduce the fish's fishy smell, but some restaurants also offer kombu-marinated, soy sauce-marinated, and black vinegar-marinated sushi, so check with them. It is also recommended to eat it with sweet pickled ginger (gari) in between.

sashimi (raw sliced fish, shellfish or crustaceans)

In the Reinan area, fresh mackerel can be cooked, so easily damaged mackerel can be eaten as sashimi. The Obama brand "Obama Yoppari Saba" is especially excellent.

It does not have the distinctive smell of bluefish, so it is easy to eat raw. Since it is not often distributed outside of the prefecture, why not enjoy a taste that can only be had here?

When it comes to mackerel cuisine, this is the place to go! 6 popular restaurants in the Reinan area

Saba (mackerel) is a familiar fish in Fukui Prefecture, so much so that there is a saba kaido (mackerel road) connecting Kyoto and Fukui. There are many restaurants that sell mackerel, and we will introduce some of them in the Reinan area that you should definitely try.

Marusan-ya offers seasonal seafood at Marusan-ya.

「地魚料理 まるさん屋」の店内の様子

A view of the interior of Marusan-ya

Citation meta. A view of the interior of Marusan-ya

Marusan-ya is a restaurant where you can enjoy seasonal seafood all year round. The restaurant offers a wide variety of mackerel dishes, including its famous Hamayaki Saba Gozen, Saba no Miso-ni Gozen, Grilled Saba Sushi, Saba Sushi, and more.
「地魚料理 まるさん屋」の浜焼さば御膳

Marusan-ya's grilled mackerel set meal

Citation meta. Marusan-ya's grilled mackerel set meal

Hamayaki mackerel is characterized by its thick meat and large size. In addition, the fish offered changes with the seasons. The "iwa-oki oysters" in summer, "akitogi" in autumn, and so on, are all delicious in any season. Enjoy them throughout the four seasons.
Address 2F, 6-41 Shirogane-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui 914-0054, Japan
(福井県敦賀市白銀町6-41 2F)
Telephone number 0770-22-4528
Business hours 11:00-22:30 (*entry up to 1 hour before closing)
Closed Open year round
Reference site Marusan-ya Tsuruga Ekimae (まるさん屋 敦賀駅前)

Restaurant Genji offers a sumptuous selection of Fukui's freshest seafood

Restaurant Genji's Menu

Restaurant Genji's Menu

Restaurant Genji is directly operated by a fresh fish restaurant. It boasts freshly caught seafood. The "Dannashi Gozen" is a specialty, offering a bowl of rice topped with grilled mackerel and seafood caught in the local waters. Try the Hamayaki Saba with ginger and soy sauce in the local style.
Other popular dishes include Wakasa fugu (puffer fish) and "Satoumi-don," a bowl of rice topped with seafood from Takahama and Takahama's specialty, tochu-tea tea. Western-style dishes and a children's menu are also available, making it easy for families with children to visit.
Address 63-24-1 Miyazaki, Takahama-cho, Oi-gun, Fukui 63-24-1, Japan
Telephone number 0770-72-2522
Business hours 11:00〜21:00(L.O. 20:30)
1st to 3rd Thursdays of the month
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site
Restaurant Genji (レストラン 源治) 

Kaikouen, where you can enjoy seafood with a view of the Sea of Japan

Kaikoen offers fresh local fish carefully selected by the chef. You can enjoy a hamayaki saba set meal, sashimi set meal, and more.
Their special mackerel sushi, made using the traditional method of wrapping in bamboo skin, is also popular and can be purchased as a souvenir. Located in the commercial facility Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf, you can enjoy a meal while looking out over the Sea of Japan.
Address 2F Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf, 1-3-2 Kawasaki, Obama, Fukui 917-0081, Japan
(福井県小浜市川崎1-3-2 若狭フィッシャーマンズワーフ 2F)
Telephone number 0770-52-3111
Business hours 11:00-15:30
Closed Tuesdays (December through February)
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site Kaikoen (海幸苑)

Enjoy Mackerel Dishes in a Historic Building Kuzu and Saba Sushi Restaurant Marushin

「葛と鯖寿しの店 まる志ん」の店内

Inside Marushin, a kuzu and saba sushi restaurant.

Citation meta. Wakasa Saba Highway, Kumagawa-juku - Marushi-Sushi Restaurant Marushi-Shin Top

Kuzu and Saba Sushi Restaurant Marushin is a kuzu and saba sushi specialty restaurant housed in a 170-year-old house built at the end of the Edo period. Located in the center of Kumagawa-juku, you can enjoy a meal without leaving the sightseeing area.
「葛と鯖寿しの店 まる志ん」の特選鯖寿し

Kuzu and Saba Sushi Restaurant Marushin's Special Saba Sushi

Citation meta. Wakasa Saba Highway, Kumagawa-juku - Marushi-Sushi Restaurant Marushi-Shin Top

We are particular about using only domestic fresh mackerel. For lunch, we recommend the Saba Sushi Gozen, which includes the famous Kuzu Yokan and Saba Sushi (shime saba and grilled saba). The restaurant is spacious, with 40 seats at tables and tatami rooms.

The restaurant is decorated with box staircases and wedding kimonos, which are rare nowadays, so you can enjoy looking at them. Souvenirs such as kuzumochi and saba jushi (mackerel sushi) are also available for purchase.
Address 39-11-1 Kumagawa, Wakasa-cho, Mikata-Kaminaka-gun, Fukui 919-1532
Telephone number 0770-62-0221
Business hours 10:00 - 16:00 (L.O. 15:30)
Closed Wednesdays and irregular holidays
*Please confirm details in advance.
Reference site Wakasa Saba Kaido, Kumagawa-juku, Marushin - Kuzu and Saba Sushi Restaurant
(若狭鯖街道・熊川宿 葛と鯖寿しの店 まる志ん)

Seaside restaurant with a spectacular view Wakasa Kaiyu Bazaar Chidori-en

「若狭海遊バザール 千鳥苑」1Fレストランの店内

Inside the restaurant on the first floor of "Wakasa Kaiyu Bazaar Chidori-en

Citation meta. 1F Restaurant (seaside buffet, etc.) - Wakasa Kaiyu Bazaar Chidori-en | Nihonkai Wakasa Road Drive-in

Wakasa Kaiyu Bazar Chidori-en is one of the largest drive-in restaurants in Hokuriku, located overlooking Wakasa Bay, where you can enjoy a meal while admiring the beautiful scenery.
「若狭海遊バザール 千鳥苑」1Fレストランのバイキングメニュー

Buffet menu at the restaurant on the 1st floor of "Wakasa Kaiyu Bazar Chidori-en

Citation meta. 1F Restaurant (seaside buffet, etc.) - Wakasa Kaiyu Bazaar Chidori-en | Nihonkai Wakasa Road Drive-in

The restaurant offers a variety of mackerel dishes such as heshiko set menus and grilled mackerel sushi set menus, as well as Fukui's specialty, sauced pork cutlet bowl and kaisen donburi (seafood rice bowl). The seafood lunch buffet offers a full meal of sashimi and other fresh seafood. The famous Wakasa beer is also served, so why not enjoy it as well?
Address 43-3-1 Sakajiri, Mihama-cho, Fukui 919-1208
Telephone number 0770-38-1011
Business hours 10:00 - 16:00 (Restaurant: 11:00 - 14:00)
Closed No regular holidays
Reference sites Wakasa Kaiyu Bazaar Chidori-en (若狭海遊バザール 千鳥苑)

Don't worry about souvenirs anymore! Three recommended processed mackerel products from the Reinan area

The Reinan area is also famous for a variety of processed mackerel products such as grilled mackerel sushi, heshiko, and canned mackerel. These products are highly reputed for their delicious taste, so be sure to bring home a taste of Reinan as a souvenir.

grilled mackerel sushi

Grilled mackerel sushi made with grilled mackerel originated in Fukui Prefecture. Even those who do not like the flavor of shime saba mackerel can enjoy it. Each restaurant has its own unique flavor and ingredients. Some have ginger, shiso leaves, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce marinade, or sansho (a type of Japanese pepper) in between the mackerel sushi. It is fun to find your favorite grilled mackerel sushi. You can often find them as souvenirs or bentos (boxed lunches), so check them out.

fish pickled in rice-bran pas

Heshiko is a fermented food made by pickling salted fish in bran. In Fukui, mackerel is used. The basic way to eat heshiko is raw or lightly roasted over a fire. It is also recommended to be served with ochazuke (rice with green tea), pasta, or as an ingredient in onigiri (rice balls) or fried rice. It is often sold on izakaya menus or as souvenirs, and is a great snack for alcoholic beverages.

canned mackerel

Fukui is particular about its mackerel, and its canned mackerel is no different. The canned mackerel is packed with fatty, high-quality mackerel meat and has a fine taste. There is a wide variety of flavors, such as chili pepper and ginger stew, as well as Gotoku miso flavor, handmade in Obama, Wakasa. It is a great souvenir to bring back home.

Enjoy delicious mackerel dishes in the Yeongnam area!

Mackerel has long been a favorite of locals, especially in the Reinan area. The love for mackerel runs deep, and a walk through the town will reveal just how familiar it is with the locals. The food is superb, and you will be satisfied with every mouthful. Enjoy the unique mackerel cuisine in the Reinan area.

The information is current as of January 2024. Information is subject to change without notice.