Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kumano Kodo Day 4 Happy eating in Shingu City : Masaya Restaurant and Nakakoriten

Shingu City is where Hayatama Taisha, a  Kumano Grand Shrine is located.   It is  the biggest attraction for tourists but many probably visit the shrine then hop on the train or bus to Nachi Taisha, the other Kumano Shrine less than an hour away.
Which is a shame because Shingu City is not without its charms.

After visiting the shrine, we decided to explore the little that we could of Shingu City by heading to
a local restaurant for lunch.  Our Mi-Kumano guides led us through a shotengai, a classic covered shopping arcade which is something you find in older districts all over Japan.

I love a traditional shotengai -- it's retro and vintage and it's where the locals shop . I find it more interesting and irresistible than the cookie-cutter mall or department store. 

The tiles on the shotengai had drawings of various kinds of fish -- perhaps these are what can be found in the waters around the coast of Shingu.  

Shingu City's shotengai was more vintage than most as you can see from this small electronics shop.
They even had video cassette tapes for sale!

This shop sells all sorts of dry goods -- from ready to wear aprons to yarns and thread for knitting or crocheting.

These three ladies gamely posed for me.  They were selling homemade fruit jams and preserves and were very happy when I bought some.

The restaurant was just a few hundred meters walk from the end of the shotengai.  We arrived past lunchtime so the crowds had come and gone.  The restaurant's name is "Masaya",  which means "happy" in Tagalog so I was sure we would be in for a happy meal.

Walking into the restaurant, I thought I had stumbled through the wrong door and landed in the owners' living room.  But amidst the clutter were some tables and chairs so this was definitely the first floor dining area.

Framed photos, paintings, messages and all sorts of memorabilia crowded the walls. Masaya looks like a much visited local restaurant.

We were taken to the second floor dining area where they had thoughtfully placed three tables end to end so we could all sit together.

Our guides had said that while Masaya serves different kinds of Japanese dishes, their specialty was their homemade udon.  I ordered cold udon and a plain onigiri with pickled ginger on the side.  
The noodles were firm and chewy and when dipped in the cold soy based sauce with a sprinkling of tanuki and green onion,  it was a refreshing dish to slurp down on this really warm day.

It also helped to wash down the cold udon with this even colder bottle of Sapporo beer.  Kanpai!

We were all craving for dessert after the meal so our guides decided to let us have a taste of Shingu City's most famous hot weather treat -- kakigori
Kakigori  is the Japanese version of the snow cone but much more refined and delicate in both texture and taste.  It's a nostalgic, old fashioned treat that continues to be much in demand -- specially during the summer months.

This unassuming little kiosk is Nakakoriten -- which apparently serves the best kakigori this side of Wakayama.  

Nakakoriten is run by a husband and wife team.  There are various flavours you can choose from -- melon, strawberry, yuzu, matcha, pineapple, mandarin orange ... too many choices for my indecisive stomach. 

This place is so renowned for its kakigori that even celebrities from Tokyo and Korean K-pop stars have come to pay their respects and of course chill to a glass of flavoured shaved ice. 

Our hot and sweaty bunch of Amigos queue up for kakigori.  No cutting in line!

This tall snowy concoction is made with Japanese citrus and drizzled with some sweetened milk -- surprisingly the flavours blend so well together.  Unlike snow cones,  kakigori ice is shaved ultra 
fine -- which makes it melt on your tongue in a deliciously cold puddle.  

You may order your kakigori in a combination of two or three flavours -- Jay had a strawberry 
and melon kakigori that almost looked like a Christmas ornament.  

I ordered matcha or green tea,  another staple flavour.  It goes best with the adzuki or sweet bean topping, drizzled with some more matcha powder.   
If you are eating in, the kakigori is always served in large glass bowls or goblets, quite an elegant touch. 
Relishing each cold spoonful of the kakigori brought back fond memories of the humble snow 
cones from  my childhood.  Nothing can bring back nostalgia faster than a memory of a favourite taste. 


Thank you to our Mi-Kumano guides for the day -- left to right  Hitomi san, Masako san and of course our kababayan Jennifer san who had been with us since Day 1 of our Kumano Kodo
We would not have had such happy meals here in Shingu City if not for their delicious recommendations.


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