Service: shy but very friendly
Facilities: traditional but very clean
Prices : reasonable for eels (eels are very expensive in Japan)
Strong points: Eels! Only local fish used! Great view on Hamana Lake
Summer is eel eating time in Japan, especially in Shizuoka renown all over the country for its great eels mainly bred around Hamamatsu City and in Hamana Lake in particular.
So the other day we decided to visit at long last a famous but traditional and very reasonable eel restaurant lost by the Hamana Lake in Mikkabi, Hamamatsu City, called Chigusa (ちぐさ/千草)!
So instead of boarding a regular train, and taxi or bus we took a local train along the Tenhama Line (Japanese web site), a trip I would advise any true traveler (and photographer) to take to enjoy the sights and discoveries of old Japan!
We got down at an unmanned (yes, they still exist! Talk about Japanese trust!) station in the blazing sun.
The station is called Okuhamanako/Far side of Hamana Lake.
Get down there and try to reach the main road through the countryside as soon as you can (there are many ways!)!
This particular area, Mikkabi in Hamamatsu City, is famous all over Japan for its (still green now) oranges!
Once you reach the main road turn left and walk along for 10 minutes along the Hamana Lake!
You can’t miss it even if you can’t read Japanese as a long black eel is welcoming you from afar!
A picture/snapshot not to miss!
The entrance with unagi/鰻 written on the noren/暖簾, entrance curtain!
Who’s that guy taking a picture? LOL
Past the entrance you will find these long metal tubes wrapped in rice straw ropes.
What are they? Can you guess?
This very rare festival is held beginning of August in Hosoe near Hamana Lake. I couldn’t manage my schedule to report but I’ll do it next year! Promise!
Have a good look at the souvenirs before entering the dining room!
Very traditional Japanese atmosphere inside!
The menu is in Japanese, but the pictures will give a very good indication!
I personally chose the above, the best eel “double-decker” lunch set. Even at 3,200 yen (32 US $) it is very reasonable when you realize that the eel prices have almost doubled in the past 3 years!
And the eels are exclusively locally bred in Hamana Lake!
It is worth the trip, even by car as there is a big car park!
Another important detail: you will have to wait some time before your order arrives. A good sign proving that contrary to the “cheap diners” food is individually prepared for best quality!
The lunch arrives at your table in a bento box shape on a tray.
Take off the lids…. et voila!
A succulent light soup containing eel liver/鰻肝!
Home-made Japanese pickles, o-shinko/オシンコ!
The broiled eel double decker/unagi jyuu/鰻重!
Two layers of eel grilled and broiled to perfection with two layers of freshly (very important!) steamed rice enhanced by the sauce of the eel
Take your time and use chopsticks to make sure you eat slowly and appreciate it to the fullest! This eel in eel country!
This gourd-shaped receptable contains shijimi/七味 mixed spice powder you can sprinkle over the eel for extra zip!
Dragon (my worse half) chose the above which contains a single layer of broiled eel but with finely shredded omelet between the fish and the rice!
Really appetizing, isn’t it?
I forgot: we visited Chigusa on Dragon’s advice! LOL
Do I need to mention I helped Dragon to finish it under the pretense of sharing?
It would certainly be a dilemma if I had to choose only one of those two lunches!
Make sure to come with a special company to taste as much as you can as I daresay that yen for yen this is the best value for eel in the whole Prefecture! (but I’m sure a lot of people will disagree! LOL)
Hamamatsu City, kita Ku, Mikkabi Cho, Mikkabi, 1148-10
Opening hours: 11:00~14:00, 16:00~20:00
Closed on 31st of December and 1st of January only
Reservations strongly recommended
Non-smoking at lunch time
Car park available (30 spaces)
RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES
BULA KANA in Fiji
Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,
Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents
HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City
11 thoughts on “Japanese Gastronomy: Eels at Chigusa in Hamamatsu City!”
Thank you for this delicious visual feast! Unagi jyuu is one of my fondest memories from the trip to Japan. My dear Tokyo friend took me to a very old eel restaurant (it looked veeeery traditional!) and I had the same set (pickles and soup with eel liver). Everything was extraordinary but it wasn’t a double layer!!!! It was still huge and I still feel guilty about leaving half of the rice (of course I haven’t left a single crumb of the eel!).
Actually when I first discovered that Japanese loved eel, it brought back my childhood memories: I often travelled to a lake/rivers region and had grilled/fried/smoked eel quite often. Of course I loved it! (I had the same experience with buckwheat: soba noodles simply remind me of buckwheat groats I grew up with!).
You left the rice? Shame on you! LOL
If you can find eels in Switzerland I’ll send you the recipe for the sauce!
Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles. The only time I found eel here, it was alive swimming in the aquarium of my fish shop. I spent hours preparing it… I was so exhausted I hardly felt the taste when I finally fried it… If I ever see it again and will have the courage to spend hours with it, I will certainly ask you for the recipe.
It is tough to prepare alive and a little messy, too!
Love the multiple layers of unagi! Was watching 孤独のグルメseason3 the other day and it also featured the same dish I was just about to drool while watching! I can taste the fantastic flavour in my mind already!
I can tell you it is a universal delicacy!
I can see why that is the case already! Drools. .
These look sooooooo tasty! I love the bento style dishes too!
I’ve never had eel, the only type people seem to eat here in England are Jellied eels and they’re not too popular!
What does it taste like?
There is nothing greasy about it like the jellied eels (most of them German or Austrian) might taste. Moreover they are fresh. They are first grilled over charcoal then broiled in sauce, the likes of which do not exist in Europe. The taste is both delicate and satisfying.
I find that so strange!
I would have thought that the Japanese would love the slimy jelly texture and us English would more likely love the eel broiled!
Over here it is hard to find any type of eel to eat!
I think because of the jelly way of preparing them not many want to try them now, only old people who started eating them years ago!
If youngsters saw it prepared like this I’m sure they would love it!
I tend to agree! LOL