Isari Juu Hachiban is one of those restaurants that hides in plain sight. Unless someone tells you to take note, you would walk right passed it. It’s second-storey position and difficult-to-read name make it a less than obvious place to stumble into.

Photo by Gregory Lane

The name in Japanese is ‘漁十八番’. That mysterious first character (at least to a semi-literate Japanese reader like me) means ‘catch’, so the name of the restaurant means “Catch No. 18”. We’re not sure of the significance of the number 18, but perhaps it shows they’ve had a bit of practice before producing this cheap, cheery, good value seafood restaurant.

Photo by Gregory Lane

The interior is light and tightly packed with lots of light stained timber – like a harbourside shokudo look which is very close to becoming a cliche. The lunch menu consists of 8 different sets ranging in price from 500yen to 1,000yen – including consumption tax. While all the sets are basically fish, soup and rice based, the sets at Isari are special due to both the volume and variety of fish.

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Here’s a summary of the lunch menu on the day we visited (all sets served with rice and miso soup)

Maguro Don Maguro on a bowl of rice500 yen
Kami-maguro Don Better maguro on a bowl of rice700 yen
Hikarizakana Teishoku850 yen
Higawari TeishokuCatch/menu of the day850 yen
Osashimi TeishokuLarge amounts of sashimi850 yen
Umi no Minshuku Teishoku Grilled salmon, sashimi etc.1,000 yen
Zeitaku Gozen1,000 yen
Kaisen DonVarious Sashimi on a bowl of rice1,000 yen
The Umi no Minshuku Set | Photo by Gregory Lane

The Umi no Minshuku set was truly varied with grilled salmon, sashimi, ikura (salmon roe), squid shiokara, some kind of dried shirasu, chawanmushi (with a prawn at the bottom instead of chicken) and tamagoyaki served with rice and miso soup. The ingredients were good quality and the salmon was a good sized portion and grilled to perfection. If you haven’t tasted it before, the taste of the shio kara can be a bit overwhelming, but it provides a nice contrast in texture to the other ingredients.

The Hikarizakana Teishoku was only slightly less impressive. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Overall, Isari No. 18 is highly recommended if you want slightly more than the usual slab of fish, bowl of soup, pickles and rice.

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