Food Koshinetsu | Nagano Sponsored

Sado Island: Local Cuisine and Modern Cafés

Sponsored by Sado City

Sado Island is an island located off the coast of Niigata. It is one of the two biggest islands in Japan, if you do not count the four main islands that make up the country Japan. I had the chance to travel around in Sado and try some of the amazing food that they have to offer. I was surprised at how big of a selection this island has when it comes to food.

Since Sado is an island, it has some tasty and fresh seafood such as crab, shrimp, and fish. There are several small restaurants located all around the island that serve all kinds of food – everything from sashimi to grilled fish, western food, and even Chinese cuisine.

Local Cuisine at Hananoki Inn – Fresh seafood

The Hananoki Inn is an old Japanese style ryokan located on Sado Island. The building is beautifully constructed out of heavy wooden beams and is surrounded by nature. I spent one night at this stunning ryokan and had the chance to enjoy some local Sado Island cuisine for both dinner and breakfast.

The food

I had two options for both dinner and breakfast. For dinner I could choose a variety of sashimi or I could choose the hotpot which also included some fresh sashimi. Since I was visiting Sado Island during the winter, right after a particularly snowy storm, I chose the hotpot option. Hotpot is a very traditional food that is eaten all over Japan during the winter, and there are many varieties of ingredients.

My personal hotpot came with crab, meatballs, and vegetables. There was also a large plate of fresh sushi, including shrimp, fish, and even a fish head! For dessert, I was served a Japanese treat called mochi.

Hot pot with crab, meatballs and vegetables in Sado island, Niigata
Hot pot with crab, meatballs, and vegetables
Fresh seafood and sashimi in Sado island
Fresh seafood and sashimi
Mochi dessert wrapped in a bamboo leaf
Mochi dessert wrapped in a bamboo leaf

Mochi is a kind of rice-cake that is made from rice that is pounded into a paste. Mochi comes in many different flavours and shapes, and it is a traditional food in Japan that can be eaten all year-round. It is especially popular during New Year and in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.

For breakfast I had the option of a western breakfast or a traditional Japanese breakfast. Japanese breakfast is always beautifully served with several small dishes as well as rice and miso soup, so of course I took the chance to enjoy a Japanese breakfast.This building was not always a ryokan, but it is 150 years old, so it felt very good to eat such traditional foods in a place with so much history.

I was then served a beautiful dessert consisting of green tea flavoured mochi wrapped up in a bamboo leaf. In Japan, the presentation is just as important as the gift or what is presented, so it is important that whatever is served on a plate looks beautiful and reflects the taste of what is being eaten.

Breakfast beautifully served on a tray
Breakfast beautifully served on a tray

For breakfast, I was served a variety of dishes such as cooked salmon, egg, rice, miso soup, and natto.

Natto is a strange food for most foreigners. It is made from fermented soybeans and the consistency is very slimy. Natto is a very acquired taste and few foreigners end up liking the strong smell and flavour.

However, natto is still a traditional food in Japan and if you want to try some local food, I highly recommend you to give it a try. Most Japanese people absolutely love to eat natto, either for breakfast or as a side-dish for lunch or dinner.

Shimafumi – A modern café

Shimafumi is a small café on the west coast of Sado Island. It is located just by the shore with a gorgeous view over the ocean and the mountains. There is even a small souvenir shop right next to the café.

The entrance of Shimafumi café
The entrance of Shimafumi café.
The welcoming atmosphere at Shimafumi café
The welcoming atmosphere at Shimafumi café
View of Sado island
View from Shimafumi café

The café has a small terrace with tables and chairs so you can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and view in summer. There are also two rooms inside the café where you can sit and enjoy your breakfast or lunch.

One of the rooms is western style with beautiful wooden furniture and big windows. The other room is designed in the Japanese style with a tatami floor and a low table where you are meant to sit on the floor. This room has huge windows that face the ocean as well.

The western room at this cafe in Sado island
The western style room
The Japanese-style room at this cafe in Sado island
The Japanese style room


The food

Shimafumi is a small café but it has a pretty large selection of different breads, scones, and sweets such as muffins, brownies, and cookies. There is also a variety of hot and cold drinks that you can enjoy.

A big variety of bread
A big variety of bread
For those who have a sweet-tooth
For those who have a sweet tooth

All the food is freshly baked and Shimafumi is one of those cafés where you could sit for hours and talk with your friends, read a book, or just enjoy the beautiful weather and the relaxing atmosphere.  There are a few women working at the café and they’re all kind and helpful – they know how to welcome a guest.


Sado official tourist infomation

Need more information? You can find up to date information about Sado Island’s history, sightseeing locations, accommodations, food, and transportation here.