Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. So much so that I sometimes feel bad for people who cannot take any food in the morning. Surely they are missing out!
I don’t need an elaborate breakfast, just something satisfying to give me a good start to the day. A typical weekday breakfast would be bircher muesli with plain yogurt and a dash of berry jam. I love that it’s healthy (rolled oats, apple, yogurt) and it keeps me feeling full for at least three hours as I sometimes have the compulsion to nibble on something every hour or so (don’t ask me why). On a weekend, something simple like bread with peanut butter (I love PB!) or eggs would suffice.
Back home in Singapore, breakfast is a more eclectic affair than in Brussels (or anywhere else in Europe, I reckon).
Imagine a cornucopia of flavours: Piping hot Cantonese congee, greasy Indian roti prata with curry on the side, spicy Malay mee siam, colourful Peranankan kueh kueh, pork floss bread with mayonnaise, fried vermicelli with deep-fried chicken wings and a dollop of sambal, soya bean curd with crispy dough fritters, pink Teochew glutinous rice kueh, waffles with peanut butter and/or jam, a bowl of herbal bah kut teh with rice, kaya toast with soft-boiled eggs…
Just thinking of these is making me a little homesick! Whenever I’m asked what I miss about Singapore, aside from my family and friends, it’s the diverse culinary scene where you could eat very well for very little (or a lot, if your pockets are deep).
While the variety of breakfast foods is quite diverse in Singapore, it is rare to see anyone eat grilled seafood in the morning. This, however, was not the case in Hokkaido.
After our crab feast the previous afternoon, we spent the night sleeping on the floor in B&B Abashiri. Kidding, we slept on futons. B&B Abashiri was clean and simple but it really was more like a dormitory than a bed-and-breakfast. Housed in a modest, medium-sized building mid-way up a hill, it offers communal bath and toilet facilities, as well as a canteen and a sports hall. I can imagine busloads of school children staying there during a school excursion or camp!
The next morning, we checked out and drove to Abashiri Kando Morning Market 網走感動朝市 for breakfast. A major port in Hokkaido, fishing is big business in Abashiri and, not surprisingly, seafood is abundant here and a staple in the local diet.
When researching for the trip, I had read about people eating sashimi for breakfast in Hokkaido and some of the best places to do so are the seafood/fish markets where you can choose from the day’s catch displayed in front of the stalls. How cool is that?
Abashiri Kando Morning Market appeared to be a less touristy (I prefer places that are off the beaten path) and more affordable option than the famous Washo Market 和商市場 in Kushiro. Happy to say that when I was later met a Taiwanese host at a B&B in Akan, Kushiro, she mentioned that she would usually go to the Kando Morning Market in Abashiri for a leisurely breakfast instead of Washo Market even though the latter is nearer for the same reasons mentioned above.
When we arrived at Abashiri Kando Morning Market, we looked around to observe how things worked. First, you find an available table and while someone takes a seat, someone else go around the stalls to decide what you want to order. Once you’re ready to make a order, let the vendor know – in our case, we pointed here, there, everywhere – and he or she will prepare the food on the spot. From what we saw, while it’s common to have sashimi on rice, many people also order grilled seafood to eat with some rice.
We had cuttlefish, clams, scallops and fish. All washed down with the complimentary hot tea that was available in a thermos flask on the table. Having grilled seafood for breakfast was an unusual experience, though a wonderfully memorable one. Plus, the food was delicious, fresh and affordable!
It’s all about self-service here: Bring your breakfast to the table and after you’re done with eating, please clear the table and put away the trays.
After our satisfying breakfast, we walked along the harbour before we got into the car and continued on our way to Shiretoko Peninsula.
Along the way to Shiretoko, we stopped at the quaint Kitahama Station 停車場, which is the closest train station to the Sea of Okhotsk. Inside, there is a coffee shop where you can enjoy the sea view while having a snack, which I imagine must be a lovely experience (it was closed when we were there).
The walls of the tiny waiting room are plastered with name cards. Who needs paint or wallpaper when you have travellers constantly helping to decorate your wall?
I love the photo below that was taken by my mum – someone had left behind a photo of herself in a penguin outfit!
No real penguins to be spotted here of course. But you could see drift ice in the Okhotsk sea in winter. I would love to return in winter and take a train journey through there. Maybe then, I’ll alight at Kitahama station for a cup of hot coffee.
Further along the railway and highway is the picturesque Koshimizu Gensei-kaen 原生花園. Located by Route 244 and between the Sea of Okhotsk and Tofutsu Lake, the wild flower reserve stretches some 8 kilometres over a long sand-hill area. In spring and summer, the wild flowers come abloom, swaying gently in the sea breeze as bees and ladybirds hop amongst them. There are no flowers in winter, but that’s when whopper swans come in to take shelter.
That’s all for our morning in Abashiri before we left the town for Shiretoko Peninsula! A short sojourn, but absolutely lovely.
For more information:
Abashiri Kando Morning Market 網走感動朝市
Map code 305 649 315
Address 〒093-0032 北海道網走市港町4 / 4 Minatomachi, Abashiri
Open 0630-0930 daily
Koshimizu Gensei-kaen (wild flower reserve) 原生花園
Map code 958 080 576
Open all day from April to October