In the evening we decided to go to a nearby restaurant in Naramachi recommended by Kayoko. The place was busy and a hive of activity. We waited outside and eventually were ushered inside to a room with a few low tables scattered around. The interior was wonderfully by simply decorated and the dark woodwork glowed in the low lighting. The staff walked around quickly but quietly and always giving a smile. We sat at our low table on tatami floors. Prawn and vegetable tempura, steamed tofu in a delicate sauce, addictive miso soup, fresh sashimi of yellow fin tuna, “maguro” and a white fish, steamed sweet potato and ladies finger. All these served with steaming rice and a selection of local pickles – “narazuke”. That was just my dishes.
Lee Cheng had the simple eel, “unagi”, cooked with light teriyaki sweet sauce, pickles and miso with rice. Navindd ordered a platter – tuna sashimi served with daikon, battered prawn tempura, an exotic escargot (snail) which surprised us all, soft egg rolls and complemented with more assorted pickled vegetables, miso and rice topped with skipjack tuna shavings, “katsuobushi”. We loved the food in all the places we have been and this looked great too.We consumed quite a bit of the aromatic green “ocha” tea during the course of the evening.
The meal was an enjoyable way to finish a leisure day. This is our second last day in Japan. The ambient setting and the welcoming service by the staff contributed immensely to the evening. To give you an idea, the cost of our meals was about ¥8000, roughly US$85. It is definitely worth it. As we left, I noticed that the snail was left untouched. It turned out to be a great recommendation.
Back at Sakuraya, we all sat down for more tea, tasty soft biscuits and pleasant conversations. This would perhaps be the most ‘homely’ stay we have had in Japan. Finally, we snugged into our soft and comfortable futon beds.
Sakuraya is “machiya” style home and has only three Japanese style tatami floor rooms. The dining hall faced the refreshing inner garden complete with water basin, palms and pine trees. Granite rocks and stepping-stones added further appeal to the rather small but delightful garden. A pair of wooden slippers were placed, pointed outwards, on a stepping stone.