When Japanese people travel to the sea they naturally want to eat fish. It makes sense, what’s local and in season, is tastiest! Overseas a great majority of Japanese restaurants serve sushi but within Japan, the percentage of sushi shops compared to other washoku (Japanese food) restaurants is actually quite low. Sushi shops tend to be pricey and so going out for sushi is often reserved for special occasions like birthdays and graduation. Sushi quality also depends on freshness so it is best eaten by the sea! Although Japanese people have been eating their fish raw for hundreds of years, dried forms of fish have been around much much longer. Shimoda, and the rest of the Izu Peninsula, is particularly famous for Himono, semi-dried fish. Keep your eyes open for the ひもの signs! Drying fish in the sun before cooking adds a chewy, salty (think extra umami!) taste to the fish, and naturally preserves the fish making it a very popular souvenir (omiyage) to take to friends, family, and co-workers back home.
The family run, Manpo, near Sotoura Beach, is our absolute favorite himono shop. They not only sell a huge variety of the semi-dried sea fare to go, but for a few extra 100 yen they will grill it for you in their shop. They are true himono masters so they know how to grill their offerings to absolute perfection on their charcoal grills. Keep in mind, Manpo is a not true restaurant so they don’t have much besides himono, you can however, order some white rice and beer to go with your grilled seafood, and be surrounded by years of experience and passion for everything that comes from the blessed sea.