Japan/Hokkaido: Otaru – Sushi Street
Otaru is often referred to as “sushi capital of Japan”. The city has been a major port since ancient times and the availability and variability of seafood here is unparalleled. And there is an entire street (about 200m/650ft long) known as Sushi Street. Best chefs from all over the country congregate here. There are about 5 globally-famous sushi establishments here (Masazushi, Nihonbashi, Shikama, Yamatoya, etc), and two dozen smaller local shops. All of this is upscale and expensive, but as far as gastronomic presentation and experience goes – absolutely unparalleled. You can go with a sushi set (I tried two, one lunch and one dinner), or go a la carte. The latter is a gamble and an adventure as there are no English menus and you just wave to the sushi chef to surprise you. But each a la carte piece is a total work of art, masterfully prepared in front of you from cutting out the choicest piece of toro tuna belly to applying a pinch of seasoning and wasabi to flaming the sushi with a flame torch.