Japan’s most prized bluefin tuna comes from a town called Ōma where a HON-MAGURO auctioned in Tsukiji once fetched $1.4M (2003). Oma Maguro is a brand. Just the location it’s caught increases the price of the tuna by as much as 20%! I traveled to the town on the tip of Japan’s Honshu Island in Aomori prefecture to find out if the taste lives up to its reputation.
★ OUT TO SEA
First I go out to the middle of the Tsugaru Straight between Honshu and Hokkaido to see where the maguro come from. The sea is rough out there and fisherman challenge themselves with line and pole to catch a prized bluefin.
★ CUTTING UP A TUNA
I visit Oomanzoku to watch owner Takeuchi-san cut up a newly purchased hon-maguro from Tsukiji. He puts on a show 3-4 times a week and after the cut, I went in for a sashimi platter (3000 yen / $30)
★ AT THE RESTAUARNT
I moved on to HAMA SUSHI for a 7-course meal consisting of only OMA MAGURO! Menu listed below.
★ WHY IS OMA’S BLUEFIN TUNA THE BEST IN JAPAN (and the world)?
According to Takeuchi-san, the bluefin in this area eat a lot of squid and that gives their meat extra tasty fat and good consistency which is prized in Japan. The Otoro (light pink fatty tuna) is by far the best I’ve ever tasted!
Ōma, Aomori Prefecture 青森県大間町
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Hakodate: take the ferry to Oma / 2.5 hours
From Tokyo: Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori or Flight to Aomori Airport
NOTE about Bluefin Tuna overfishing / endangered status:
I was concerned about this but what I learned is that the maguro here are not net fished by big boats. They are pole and string caught meaning local fisherman don’t catch more than a few at a time.
Please take note that Aomori prefecture has laws in place and although other prefecture have different laws, the fisherman of Ōma have a profound deal of respect for the hon-maguro. Despite what you hear in the news, I did not see any kind of abuse. I personally do not eat much maguro because of the news, and any maguro that is too cheap has most likely come from larger ships over fishing an area and of low quality. Oma’s fishing practice is the opposite, it’s reputation important to the city. * I felt it important to include this.
Sashimi Teishoku 3000 yen / $30
Hama Sushi 浜寿司
7 course maguro dinner 7300 yen / $70
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