Ryokan Kurashiki, Day Two, part one
May 14, 2013
While dinners at the Ryokan Kurashiki are served in each of the eight individual guestrooms, or in the tatami dining rooms upstairs for outside private parties, breakfasts are served in the restaurant, which also serves lunch to people who are not staying at the inn. And so we started March 24, 2013, Linda’s birthday, in the restaurant with a view out into the ryokan’s garden.
The rambling complex of old buildings housing the ryokan blends in with the architecture of the well-preserved old merchant quarter of Kurashiki. Its streets are lined with former warehouses and other traditional wooden buildings dating from the seventeenth century. Shops and restaurants occupy them now, some with tourist junk and others with interesting items, including the local brown pottery, some of which we bought.
A canal cuts through one side of the historical area. The Ohara Museum has an outstanding collection of European and Japanese art. The Folk Art Museum is the second largest in Japan.
Sakura’s two specialties are soba noodles and tempura. The chef does all the cooking himself; he is obviously passionate about doing it right. He has five assistants: one peels and chops, one does the plating, two serve and clear and the fifth cleans up. (It isn’t really as neat as that.) Here he is cooking tempura in the big vat in front of him.
Here he is dipping cooked soba noodles out of the vat of boiling water.
We ordered the luncheon special, which included two tempura shrimp and soba. We were unable to read the menu so just had to point at the picture.
The soba was in a very good broth with various vegetable garnishes. The shrimp was laid on top of it. I think this is a dumb idea, but it is done a lot in Japan. The crisp, hot, cooked, tempura batter quickly gets soggy in the broth. On the left you can see chopped scallions to scatter as needed; at least they got to stay crisp until used. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the dish a lot.
After lunch we continued our exploration of Kurashiki before returning to the ryokan for some rest and blogwriting. Dinner that evening was superb, but that is the next blogpost here.
To see all three of our blogposts on Ryokan Kurashiki click here.