It's Lunch Time

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Autumn
It's Lunch Time

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It's Lunch Time

Our search for interesting spots and different types of local cuisine continues. The next destination is Kitsuki City in Oita Prefecture. It was a prosperous castle town in the 17th century and samurai mansions remain to this very day. It is also called Kyushu's "Little Kyoto". The area is known for its prawns which are cultivated here and shipped all over the country.

We first go to Kitsuki Castle, which was built in late 14th century. It was the stage of the battle between the warlords of Otomo and Shimazu during the civil war era. Today, the place is used as the area's sightseeing tower. Unfortunately, we are unable to get in as its gate is closed on this particular day. So we continue walking around the city and come across Fukuchan, which sells takeaway deep-fried items. It has been in business for 40 years. We try some delicious fried chicken seasoned with garlic soy sauce.

We then drop by a fish shop to ask about recommended eateries. We are told about a French cuisine restaurant run by the Miura family. When he was 22, Mr Miura trained as a chef for two years in southern France. He subsequently continued to study cooking in Tokyo and opened this restaurant about 15 years ago. We are keen to see what the family eats for lunch. Mr Miura’s mum, Ms Machiko, prepares red sea bream and pumpkin stew, and salad with scallion, razor clams and vinegar.  

After this, we make our way to Morie Harbour, where we visit the Takahashi Marine Products sardine packaging factory. It has been around since 1960. We meet the company’s president and go to his home to find out what his family and employees are having for lunch. Their boxed lunches include things such as sardine egg-drop broth, grilled salted mackerel, pickled greens, croquette, preserved sardines, dried cutlassfish in vinegar, rice balls stuffed with dried sardines, stewed red kidney beans, squid sashimi and baby squid dipped in citrus-pepper soy sauce.

Our next trip takes us to Shima City in Mie Prefecture. It is known for its abundant seafood such as Ise shrimp, abalone and turban shell. We first go to the Nakiri Fishing Harbour and come across Mr Isogai, a worker at the harbour. The fishermen share their catch with him every day. He agrees to show us his dinner so we visit his home, which is not too far from the fishing harbour. Mr Isogai and his wife prepare an extravagant seafood meal. It includes Ise shrimp, grilled abalone and steamed spider crab.   

After this, we return to the harbour where we meet Ms Ishihara. She invites us to Mikiya Eatery, her friend’s restaurant where she and her friends are holding a ladies’ meeting. Dishes served include onko-zushi, a provincial dish featuring a large rice ball topped with raw seafood, and wild conger eel broiled in soy sauce and honey. We enjoy chatting with the ladies - their average age is 75 - who meet at the eatery every month.

Tips:
1) Kitsuki City is known for its prawns which are shipped all over the country
2) A must-try speciality of Mie Prefecture is Ise shrimp

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