The Secret Delicacy Of A Pearl Town : Ikadaya (Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture)

Uwajima City, one of Japan’s most prominent pearl towns, lies in the south of Ehime Prefecture. The highly valuable pearls, or “moon drops” as they are also called, have been adored and sought after by women since ancient times.

Uwajima is home to a thriving oyster farming business, and grows the shellfish with devotion and effort to make them produce pearls. However, oysters that fail to produce pearls are thrown away and go to waste. In this article I will introduce a restaurant that has rethought the way the shells are used. Ikadaya offers superb oyster dishes that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Ikadaya is located in a beautiful seaside area about 30 minutes drive from central Uwa City. However, the ocean view is not the only thing to be enjoyed here.

Visitors can also enjoy delicious seafood here at this building that stands on poles in the water!

This is the interior of the restaurant. The large windows offer a stunning view of the ocean, which starts right beneath them. Although the building is located above the water, it doesn’t sway, so there is no need to worry about getting seasick. At sunset the sky turns red, and at night the sky opens to reveal its countless stars.

Every dish is made from ingredients acquired that day, so customers can enjoy the freshest, most delicious seafood possible. I was first served oysters, horned turbans and noble scallops.

Grilled over charcoal, the shellfish were really delicious!

Next, I had the local specialty, jakoten (sea bream covered in salt), and a large blackfish which was served deep-fried and as carpaccio.

The sea urchin was freshly caught and sweet, and simply melted in my mouth. Finally, I was served something special you can only get at this restaurant.

Here you can see adductor muscles of pearl oysters roasting next to a few rice balls. These oysters are the ones that make pearls. As a matter of fact, every local in the area knows that pearl oysters are a delicacy. Pearl farmers often take the oysters home after harvesting and removing the pearls. The restaurant owner, Isomi Shiba, took advantage of the fact that hardly anyone except pearl oyster farmers eat the oysters and opened Ikadaya.

These are deep-fried pearl oysters. They are also sold at events and are extremely popular! By frying the oysters in oil, they become sweet and even more delicious. So, there is no need to let these precious shellfish go to waste. The dish was conceived by someone who is truly passionate about pearl oysters.

Since the restaurant only uses fresh ingredients caught that very day, the menu changes on a daily basis. However, one thing never changes; customers are guaranteed superb seafood.

Ikadaya is reservation-only, with 1 group (5 people or more) per day. Everyone should come here at least once in their lifetime.

So what are you waiting for? It will definitely be a memory for life.

Address: 4737 Shitaba, Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture
Tel: 0895-29-0831 or 090-3182-7363 (9:00 – 18:00)
Open: Dependent on the day’s reservations. (Advance reservations required.)
Closed: Open throughout the year (dependent on reservations)
Course duration: 2-3 hours
Prices: Adults – 3,500 yen for the course + optional 1000 yen for nomihodai (drink-as-much-as-you-like)

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi

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