Shizuoka Gastronomy: Eels at Chigusa in Hamamatsu City!
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)