The master of our favourite local diner, Ichibun, brought out a couple of surprises tonight when we visited.First he brought out a large dish of pork stew, with which he served slices of fresh baguette. The meat was so amazingly soft and tender, and the taste was really delicious. We were all so surprised that he'd made it for us, and then... it was gone in a flash! We also ordered his potato okonomiyaki (made by adding potato to the normal flour and egg mix) and his Indian-style curry, plus a salad of daikon and scallops. (I took no photos of these.) As a dessert he surprised us yet again by producing home-made warabimochi (蕨餅), a jelly-like substance made in this case with just potato flour and water, and covered with a sweet black-sugar syrup and soybean flour. My mother-in-law then quizzed him on how it's made, and we couldn't believe how easy it sounded; just potato flour and water! Finally, the master brought out a miso ramen (味噌ラーメン) for us to share. Nice! Although by this time I was seriously full, so couldn't eat much of it. I'm really going to miss Ichibun and the 500 yen (about £3.50) lunch and dinner dishes.
At 10am this morning we met up with the owner of our favourite local eaterie Ichibun - which I've written about several times before. He and his wife had suggested that on their one day off (Tuesday) we go with them on a trip to eat a ramen or two out of town. Because their car is quite a small one, we took two cars, which meant we could play our own music on the iPod (with iTrip) and perhaps come back separately. They had first invited us last Tuesday, as they were going to Omachi (大町) for ramen, but unfortunately we couldn't make it due to prior commitments.The owner (whom we call 'Master', out of respect for him being the owner of the restaurant) uses a blog called ラーメン夫婦坂 as a guide to which ramen restaurants are popular and tasty in Nagano prefecture. It's written by a married Japanese couple who love ramen. So anyway off we went to Sakudaira (佐久平), located about 70km south-east of Nagano city.
Here are links to the later posts about the ramen restaurants we visited:
Due to a chain of unforseen events involving a thunderstorm and the consequential stoppage of all outbound trains(!) we ended up at Ichibun again this evening.
After stepping inside we were immediately given a dish of おから (okara - fried soy pulp and vegetables) - I wish I'd taken a photo but unfortunately I was so surprised to see it (as I love the stuff) that I wolfed it down before I remembered to take one. After seeing the evening menu we immediately decided to try the モヤシのオイスターソース炒め (bean sprouts and pork fried in oyster sauce) and salami pizza and they were great, particularly the bean sprouts as they were really salty (I love salty).
Of course those were just a starter really (erm) so we then went with 生姜焼き (pork in ginger on rice) and their ramen. Finally the restaurant owner brought us out desserts of home-made orange-flavour jelly (again no photo due to wolfing, sorry) which was a great finish.
The whole meal cost us 1800 yen (about 12 quid), superb.