I am not one to gush about restaurant food. I prefer eating home-cooked meals and the food prepared by people who still use their grandmothers’ recipes. I have eaten roasted camel in the desert, deadly spicy street fare in Thailand, and beautiful, authentic paella in northern Spain. It takes a lot to impress me after having literally eaten my way around the world. So it is highly unusual for me to write about a particular meal but that is exactly what I am doing here.
The Venue: Auberge/Le Mariage Restaurant (Open-hearth cooking)
Open: 11:30~14:00 / 18:00~ (reservations would definitely be necessary to enjoy the open-hearth dining experience)
Closed: Occasional closures (no holidays in Aug.)
Address: 3545-943 Takanecho Kiyosato, Hokuto, Yamanashi
The Presentation: Irori (Japanese traditional sunken hearth) cooking
I was surprised to see a charcoal fire in the centre of such a small outbuilding, but there is an extraction system which can rapidly rid the space of smoke. I think the room can easily hold 6 to 10 diners, but don’t quote me on it. This isn’t a glitzy restaurant atop a skyscraper in Tokyo. The interior, although rustic and spare, is everything you’ll need. Come here for the service and the excellent food.
The Courses: Japanese-French Fusion (wild-caught fish, deer, and boar)
Suntory Hakushu Distillery (whisky highball)
This area is known throughout Japan for its pure water. By volume, Yamanashi is the largest producer of mineral water in the country. Suntory Hakushu Distillery, Shichiken Sake Brewery, the Rock Microbrewery and numerous other purveyors of alcoholic beverages have been using this water for as long as 270 years!
The First Course:
Small salad, alkekengi fruit (aka Cape Gooseberry/Chinese Lantern), venison liver pâté, roast local venison with fresh pepper, and sashimi topped with roe
The Second Course:
Three different varieties of terrine, with accompanying mustard, attractively displayed on an oak whisky barrel stave
The Third Course: Venison stewed with Japanese long onions (delicious, but not shown here)
The Fourth Course:
Freshwater fish marinated in a miso paste preparation, cooked over an open hearth, and covered in grated wild horseradish accompanied by lightly fried root vegetables and broccoli
The Fifth Course:
Wild boar and venison grilled over the open hearth and topped with grated wild horseradish, accompanied by grilled greens, tempura and pickles
The Dessert Course:
Roasted apples filled with nuts, covered in a light caramel sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream
The meal was extraordinary.
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