Hamo: An Osaka Summer Delicacy - Kansai Odyssey
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  • Hamo: An Osaka Summer Delicacy

    Every place has its own unique seasonal foods and dishes. In Osaka and Kyoto, one such food that people eat during the summer is hamo, or pike congar. This fish is not common at all in Tokyo and if you live in Tokyo, you might not have ever heard of hamo!

    A Summertime Delicacy

    As is the case with things that are rare and unusual, if you can find hamo outside of Kansai, it is likely to be very expensive. That being said, this is a very common fish in Osaka. Hamo becomes particularly tasty after the rainy season and is an indispensable food during several important festivals, namely two of the biggest festivals in Kansai: Tenjin Matsuri, the biggest festival in Osaka, and Gion Matsuri, the biggest festival in Kyoto.

    Fresh hamo…If I look at them too long I feel sad

    Hamo have very sharp teeth can be up to 2 meters long and have been known to sometimes bite people. In fact, the name “Hamo” stems from the old Japanese word “食む”, meaning eat or bite

    Hamo at Zuboraya

    Hamo is only in season in summer through early fall. Because of this small window of availability, not many restaurants that specialize in hamo.

    Zuboraya (left). Their giant puffer fish is easily one of the most iconic things in Osaka’s Shinsekai.

    However, in Osaka it is not unusual for fugu restaurants serve hamo as a seasonal special menu. Zuboraya, one of the most famous and affordable fugu restaurants in Shinsekai, also offers hamo as a seasonal special. (We will talk about Zuboraya’s fugu dishes in winter).
    This year (2017), they offered a small course meal for only about 3,000 yen! 

    Dining at Zuboraya

    Hamo no Yubiki

    Like fugu, hamo has very delicate flavor. It is often served with a vinegary miso (it reminds me of a very mild mustard) or ume paste, so as not to overpower the naturally light flavor of the fish.

    hamo sashimi on a bed of chrysanthemum leaves
    sashimi course

     You will notice that there are many small slits on the flesh of the fish. Hamo are notorious for having many small thin bones. The slits are a result of the chef meticulously and carefully removing the bones, all while trying to not tear the flesh.

    Delicious nabe



    Address1-6-10 Dotonbori, Chuo, Osaka City,
    Osaka Prefecture, 〒542-0071
    Hours of OperationMon-Sun
    Price Range5,000 yen+

    If you are ever in Osaka when hamo is in season, it is definitely worth a try! Since the fish doesn’t have a very strong flavor, I think it will please most palettes. Instead junk food like takoyaki, consider these kinds of seasonal specialties that are truly at the heart of Osaka culture.   

    Coming next time,
    The oldest building in Osaka, Aizen-do

    The adventure continues…


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