Hoping to capitalize on "moe" culture, a seafood restaurant specializing in delicacies from Rumoi in Hokkaido opened this spring in Tokyo's fabled Akihabara "Electric Town."
In addition to TVs and circuit boards, the district is home to anime girl figurines and maid cafes closely associated with moe, a slang word with many shifting definitions, including having strong feelings for a specific item or hobby, such as anime, video games or other creative works.
The Akihabara Ekimae branch of the Seafood Dining Rumoi Marche eatery chain is on the fifth floor of a building near the Electric Town ticket gate at JR Akihabara Station.
The restaurant doesn't offer anime products and there is nary a "maid" in sight. But the new eatery has attracted attention, in part, because its name Rumoi shares the same kanji with moe.
Ayaka Nishimura, 32, an official at Sapporo Lion Inc., the firm that operates the Rumoi Marche restaurants, said Rumoi consists of two kanji used for "stay" and "moe."
Rumoi is the name of a city in northern Hokkaido along the Sea of Japan. Rumoi Mayor Sadatoshi Takahashi, 61, and Sapporo Lion President Yoshiaki Tone, 59, inked an agreement before the Akihabara eatery opened April 19. Based on the deal, the restaurant offers local foods and drinks from Rumoi and seven other municipalities.
It also sells local specialties from the region and distributes pamphlets on sightseeing.
The most popular item on the dinner menu is sweet shrimp from Mashike. Because the two characters used for the town's name can also be pronounced as "zomo" (literally, "hair multiplication"), some customers have ordered the dish by saying, "Give me the zomo sweet shrimp!"
The dish is served as an all-you-can-eat treat for two hours for 500 yen ($6.40), including tax, until the shrimp run out.
"We serve six boxes of shrimp every day. Each box contains about 250 shrimp," Rumoi Marche manager Hideyuki Yoshinaga, 37, said.
The second most popular dish is "hotate" scallops from Rumoi baked in their shells with Hokkaido butter and soy sauce (380 yen). An Italian salad with "mizudako" octopus from Mashike and mozzarella cheese (750 yen) follows suit. Scallops from Rumoi are stored in a water tank on the counter.
The restaurant specialty is "Rururosso," a plate of chewy pasta made from wheat cultivated in Rumoi and its surrounding areas. The name came from "Rurumoppe," which means Rumoi in Ainu, and "rosso," the Italian word for red. The rosso part was inspired by the sun setting over the Sea of Japan off the coast of Rumoi.
Private dining rooms are named after the eight municipalities in the region including Obira, Tomamae, Haboro, Shosanbetsu, Teshio and Enbetsu. The interior of the eatery is reminiscent of the city of Rumoi.
Sapporo Lion is closely associated with Hokkaido because the company is affiliated with Japan's leading beer maker, Sapporo Holdings Ltd.
In tandem with the Hokkaido government, the company has been operating restaurants in Tokyo offering a variety of local specialties from Betsukai town in eastern Hokkaido and Oshamanbe town in the southern part of the northernmost prefecture since 2011.
Sapporo Lion picked Akihabara for its latest endeavor because the area attracts company workers and tourists alike. The company converted a Mediterranean food restaurant into the Rumoi Marche.
The relationship between Rumoi and moe is less widely known in the Tokyo metropolitan area than Sapporo, Hakodate and other cities in Hokkaido. However, there is an increasing number of people who have developed moe feelings for Rumoi in one spot in Akihabara.
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