Before you do anything else on Hatsushima, treat yourself to an amazing lunch at this fisherman-run restaurant.

We recently took you along with us on our trip to Hatsushima, a beautiful subtropical island that, amazingly, you can be standing on in less than two hours after leaving downtown Tokyo. It looks like a lot of you are interested in the island, which is accessed by a ferry that leaves from the coastal city of Atami, in Shizuoka Prefecture.

And yet, there’s one more thing we have to talk about from our trip to Hatsushima: the sashimi.

We briefly touched on this in our initial report. Only about 200 people live on Hatsushima. A lot of them are fishermen, and some of those fishermen manage a row of restaurants that stands by the sea.

Fresh sushi and sashimi is never something you want to pass up in Japan, and so there was no way we were hopping on the boat home without trying one of these eateries. However, fisherman start their days early, and so they tend to close up shop early too. When we arrived at around 1 p.m., some of the restaurants had already stopped serving for the day, and others were full with diners who’d made reservations.

But we were in luck because there was one restaurant, called Sumi, that was still open and could seat us right away.

▼ すみ = Sumi

You might mistakenly assume that that meant Sumi has a less-than-attractive reputation, but that’s not the case at all. Not only did their menu photos look enticing, the board also mentioned multiple travel/dining TV programs that have featured the restaurant.

The restaurants along the row tend to have different offerings based on the season, as they’re focused on offering the freshest, tastiest fish that can be locally caught at that time of year. After looking over our options, we decided on the aji (Japanese horse mackerel) bowl, for 1,430 yen (US$9.25). The restaurant’s owner himself personally prepared it for us, starting the process after we ordered, and when our meal arrived, our appetite spiked at how mouthwatering it looked.

The sides of miso soup and pickles were nice, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of the aji! As we took a taste, we were overjoyed to learn that this is a case where looks are most definitely not deceiving. This was fantastic fish, amazingly fresh, moist, and flavorful.

It was so good that it had the mysterious effect of seeming both filling and not filling. Filling because of the generous portion of fish, and yet also not filling, because it was so delicious that we’d have happily eaten 10 bowls of it, even if our overstuffed stomach would have hated us for it afterwards.

Really, there’s only one potential pitfall to Sumi. Because of the care taken in preparing the food, it took quite a while, 20 minutes, for us to get our food. That might not seem too bad, but it’s longer than average for a sashimi bowl at casual restaurant, since the fish doesn’t need any cooking time.

However, the wait is absolutely worth it, so we recommend making Sumi the very first place you go as soon as you arrive at Hatsushima and get off the boat. Start your stay with a great meal, and then head off to explore the rest of the island. Trust us, it’s an itinerary you won’t regret.

Restaurant information
Sumi / すみ
Address: Shizuoka-ken, Atami-shi, Hatsushima 185
Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (dinner by reservation only)

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