|Welcome sign - Ansuro-ji|
My wife's friend has opened a little pension with restaurant attached not far from Genbi Gorge, a beautiful spot less than ten kilometres from Ichinoseki. We took a dark and windy road out of town with a pale-printed black and white google map and with a fair bit of luck I managed to turn at the right place and somehow end up in the right place at the right time.
In Japan, everything is small. The bars are small, you can find bars in Ichinoseki that have a capacity of like less than ten people, restaurants sometimes just have three or four tables. Or in this case, two! The owners are farmers as well and seem to try their hand at everything. The kerosene heater burned brightly and we were warm enough. Just! We were in a little hut behind the house where the room for the pension is. Or maybe they have two rooms, but that's about it.
The first course was salad wrapped like sushi in rice paper. Then we had duck soup. After that were were served a sort of curried chicken and duck salad. The duck had been caught by the owner and was very nice, as was the chicken. The soup was pretty good too and my wife loved the salad-sushi things, although I admit to not being the world's biggest fan of salad! :)
|Succulent Duck Salad.|
It didn't stop there, the next course was pork, in a delicious sauce including parmesan cheese. It tasted great but was a little fatty - in Japan I've found that's the norm though. When my wife's mother serves pork it includes all the gristle. Cuts of meat in the supermarket are often cheaper per kilo when they are lean!
Finally it finished with a creamy (that is very Japanese) carrot and sponge cake. It was a veritable feast. But what's better than a delicious and filling meal? A delicious and filling meal which is cheap! And this was just 2000 yen ($20) each! And I have to say, it could have easily been 5000 yen. I had a meal at a French restaurant in Yokohama which was 6,500 yen, half the amount and not nearly as nice. This one kicked goals from all angles. I was left thinking how on Earth could they make money on it?
|Typical cake in Japan - Sponge with Cream. Strawberries - optional.|
We were not only their only customers that night, or all week, but all YEAR! Well, they had been closed until March 11th. Winter obviously is no good for business, with the remoteness of the location. Anyways, I don't normally do restaurant reviews, but if you have a car and are in Ichinoseki, it's a great little place to go. In town you can't get anything near that sort of value. 3,500 yen will often get you all you can eat and drink, but the quality isn't there - it's just a whole heap of fried stuff.
The name of the restaurant is Ansuro-ji. It is not far from Genbi Gorge. Here is their website, it seems only fair to give them a plug:
Ansuro-ji Restaurant and Pension.
They managed, incredibly last minute, to make the cut for my latest ebook:
Short Journeys: Japan