On my return trip to Otaru, aside from sushi, there was one item that I looked forward to eating again: Senbei 煎餅, Japanese rice cracker.
Three summers ago, when I was in Otaru with my family, we bought some senbei from a little shop while strolling along Sakaimachi Street. Everyone in my family likes senbei. Whenever my father’s Japanese boss gave him some senbei, he would bring some home for us. My mum would occasionally buy individually packed, bite-sized senbei snacks for my sister and I. These came in various shapes and colours, mostly savoury and often wrapped in seaweed.
While I have had Japanese rice crackers since I was a child, I had not tried freshly grilled senbei until that day. In fact, I had no idea it existed!
Served warm, these crisp rice crackers were in a league of their own and superior to packaged senbei. These were delightfully crunchy with a good balance of soy sauce glaze and seasoning.
When I was back in Otaru this summer with AB, I headed to Sakaimachi Street with purpose.
Alas, I did not find the store when we walked down the street. Thinking that we may have missed it due to the crowd and distractions – various shops were handing out samples of tasty squid, chocolate and melon, we walked the length of the street again, but to no avail.
Had it closed down or moved? After all it was a small shop and selling senbei at 200 yen apiece might not have been enough to keep the business afloat.
Fortunately, we found it the following day. Yatta!
All we had to do was choose – crunchy or soft, miso or soy sauce, spicy or sweet, seaweed or wasabi. I went for two crunchy pieces and AB ordered a soft senbei on a stick which reminded me of mock meat. Sitting on a bench near the shop, we chomped merrily on the toasty crackers.
Life is good when you have warm senbei. Oishii!
Terakoya Honpo 寺子屋本舗 小樽店
Address: Sakaimachi Street, Otaru, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市堺町６－４ 銀の鐘７号館
Open: Daily from 0930-1730; 1000-1700 between 11 December to 10 April
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