Okaman – Modern Japanese Izakaya near Toyama Station

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Whenever I travel overseas I always search up the most recommended restaurants because I want to have the best food and experience as possible. However, I find that the best restaurants are the ones that I stumble upon when travelling. It was my first time visiting Toyama, Japan and where I came across a certain izakaya.

Okaman is a bright looking modern izakaya located on the 4th floor of the MAROOT mall beside Toyama station. Being an izakaya, it sells almost everything, from sashimi and sushi, to grilled dishes. They also served “Kamameshi”, a type of traditional Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot. In addition, it sells beer as well, a staple of izakayas. I dined at the restaurant a total of three times to try the variety of dishes that they offer, and it was a pleasant experience in all three of them.

My first visit was during lunch time where the service staff were courteous enough to offer an English menu, and even provided free and unlimited green tea. The lunch menu consisted of a restricted choice of dishes as grilled dishes were not offered. However, it did have the Kamameshi which I wanted to try. I ordered the crab Kamameshi(980 yen/$8.80 SGD) since Toyama is famous for its crab as it’s located along the Sea of Japan. The set came with Kamameshi and a bowl of miso soup. The Kamameshi looked small but it had a good amount of rice, along with chunks of crab meat, some mushrooms and vegetables, and a quail’s egg. The rice was moist and soft, which was expected since it’s Japanese rice. The crab was flaky and had a delightful natural sweetness. My one criticism of the Kamameshi is that it had an insignificant amount of crab in the bowl and the dish was mainly rice. I was expecting a larger amount of crab as its ratio to the rice was small. Despite my criticism, it was still a satisfying meal.

On my second visit, I decided to try Nodoguro(4400 yen/$38.43 SGD), a specialty fish in the Hokuriku and Sea of Japan region. It has been touted as a must try fish if you’re visiting the region. I ordered the salt-grilled version and was pleasantly surprised by its taste. It was fresh, flaky and was not fishy at all! In addition, it had a subtle sweetness to the meat. My only gripe with the fish was that it had a lot of bones so it was difficult to eat. However, I’d say it was worth a try. I also ordered fresh vegetables(980 yen/$8.56 SGD that were grilled in a stone pot. Even though they tasted slightly plain as there was no seasoning, I realised why there wasn’t any as it brought out the natural sweetness of the vegetables. My favourite one was the sweet potato as the skin was slightly crispy from the grill and the meat tasted so incredibly sweet.

On my third and final visit, I ordered chicken karaage(780 yen/$6.81 SGD) and Simmered Flatfish(1480 yen/$12.93 SGD), along with the Crab Kamameshi. The karaage was fantastic! The chicken skin was crispy and sweet, while the meat was succulent and juicy. The karaage pieces were huge as well, so it was value for money! However, the Simmered Flatfish was the star of the show! I was pleasantly surprised to be served 2 enormous pieces of flatfish. They were slow cooked in a soy sauce based broth, and the meat was extremely soft. It also tasted sweet from absorbing the soy sauce. It was so fresh and delicious that it was the best dish I had during my 3 visits. It’s definitely worth a try if you visit the restaurant!

Being an izakaya, the atmosphere’s bound to be lively, especially at night. I found that out when I had dinner at the restaurant. It can get noisy during dinner due to office workers dining at the restaurant after work, but it is bearable as the restaurant is small. I still think visiting during dinner is better as the menu has more variety of items to choose from. In addition, the staff were so kind and helpful when I visited even though they faced some difficulty in speaking English. Service was also quick as the staff served the dishes that I ordered as soon as they were ready, even during peak hours!

I would recommend visiting this restaurant if you’re visiting Toyama for multiple reasons. First, it’s conveniently located near Toyama station. In fact, the restaurant is about 3 minutes from the station. Second, the restaurant offers an assortment of dishes to choose from and I recommend trying the sushi since the sashimi along the Sea of Japan is famous for being fresh and tasty. Third, the quality of food was decent overall, especially the fish. They were of top quality which is what I’d expect as they’re freshly caught from the Sea of Japan.

Food: 8.5/10
Service: 9.5/10
Ambience: 9/10

1番231号 Meirincho, Toyama, 930-0001, Japan
Opening hours: Daily from 11am – 11pm

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