Enoshima / 江ノ島, part 1

The week before last I used some time off from work for taking a day trip to Enoshima (江ノ島). Enoshima is tiny island which is part of Fujisawa city (藤沢市) in the Kantō region's southern prefecture, Kanagawa (神奈川県). The characters comprising the name "Enoshima" mean Island of the Bay, which is an accurate description since visitors can only access Enoshima by crossing a bridge over the Sagami Bay (相模湾) either by car or on foot.

Enoshima does an excellent job of providing a relaxing island resort atmosphere despite her relatively close proximity to Tokyo (roughly 1.45 hours by rail). This makes for a very popular getaway of course, and for this reason I highly recommend going there on a weekday like I did.

Like most destinations in a Japan, a main attraction for visitors is the local cuisine. One of my main objectives in going there was diving into a Shirasu-don (しらす丼) which is famous throughout the Sagami Bay coastal region of Kanagawa (known as Shōnan / 湘南). "Don" (pronounced so that it rhymes with "dome") is short for "donburi" (丼), which simply means bowl of rice with a topping of some kind. In this case the topping is Shirasu (しらす), which simply means baby fish. These little fishies are somewhat uncommon where I currently live (and all but non-existent where I grew up), especially in their uncooked form which is a major draw for foodies who come to Enoshima for a visit. Since I had arrived right at lunch time, sitting down to a Shirasu-don lunch was my first priority. I found a pleasant oceanside restaurant called Shōnan Hanabi Shokudō (湘南HANABI食堂) and got myself a table.

So how do they taste? Well, this is certainly not my first time eating Shirasu; I've been a fan for quite a long time. This is only my second time, however, enjoying raw Shirasu. Shirasu have a mildly briny, oceanic taste, which is accompanied by a very lovely clean, fresh and slightly sweet flavor. This particular donburi is called 3-color don (三色丼 / San shoku don). The three colors are raw Shirasu, kettle-cooked Shirasu and seasoned kettle-cooked Shirasu. (Readers: don't let "kettle-cooked" fool you into thinking about Kettle Chips or anything like that, these are not fried-- they're blanched). Also gently resting upon my bowl of rice was tororo (とろろ), nori (海苔 / dry seaweed, like the wrapping on your favourite sushi roll), green onion, and a raw egg. My Shirasu-don was accompanied by a bowl of miso soup, some pickled daikon and a lump of freshly-grated wasabi for enhancing the flavour of my Shirasu. This was soooo delicious and was exactly what I had been wanting to eat! I enjoyed and cherished every single bite of my lunch, showering the restaurant staff with compliments all the while.

With a full, and very satisfied tummy, it was time to go be a tourist. See what happened next in part 2!

Before finishing Enoshima Part 1, one word of warning to potential visitors, when Shirasu are in season (spring), they sell out fast! I would be a mistake to expect to have Shirasu-don for dinner since they're caught fresh every day, and supplies rarely cover the lunchtime rush.

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