CONTRIBUTED BY KELLYERACE
You ever order a bowl of soba and see that pink and white thing sitting in there and wonder, “what’s this?!” or “Nani kore?” It took me ages to find out that it’s a fish cake. And while it’s very pretty with its swirls and its pink, something about it, the sheer colorfulness of the thing or maybe the texture, gives me pause.
The fish cake, however, is a beloved food item for many folk here on island. When a girlfriend told me that she has an actual fish cake factory next to her house, and that busloads of tourists visit it, I knew I had to visit. I hopped in my ride to check out the factory and find out a little more about this mysterious morsel.
The Sumiya Food Co. fish cake factory sits perched above the Toya Port in Yomitan. There’s a pretty view from there and if you happen to be in the area, I recommend making the short drive down to the waterfront to take in some good people watching and fishing action. While you are at it stop in the little fish market by the water for some sashimi or some excellent (and cheap) tempura.
Or, you could stock up on some fish cakes. Today I stuck with the latter, parked my car and entered the small factory. It has a modest storefront with a menu of sorts and large glass windows behind the counter, where you can view the fishmaking process. Unfortunately, I arrived about five minutes before closing so I didn’t have much time to linger. But what I did see was interesting, fish being chopped, molded and formed into various shapes. Here’s a picture of the brochure I took, just to give you a sense of what goes into a fish cake. From what I’ve been told, it’s made of cod; although I’d suspect that there are other kinds too.
I had no idea the fish cake came in so many forms. And so cheap! The guy at the counter pointed to the menu: there were the pink swirls, long white sticks, flat pancake looking cakes, boiled eggs wrapped in fish cake, fish shaped fish cake. Most cost just over a hundred yen or so a piece. Before I knew it I found myself buying not just one, but three! The cute color and cheap price won me over. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try my hand at soba making and see if I just don’t fall in love in spite of myself.
Take 58 north to Yomitan and turn left on Rte 6 going toward Cape Zanpa. When you see Torii Station main gate, start counting the lights (include the one directly in front of the gate). At the 6th light, you’ll see a sign that says Yomitan Fishing Cooperative/Toya Port. Turn left there and follow the road 500 meters until you see the water. The factory is on your left, right before an apartment building. There’s one of those troll things in front of it. (If you go down further to the water, the fish market with the good tempura is all the way to your right).