Sunday, October 30, 2016

NAbura! -- Warm up after a hike with noodles in a friendly atmosphere.

(There is a new ramen shop in its place.)
After trudging through the rain for ten hours, I want nothing more than calories when I  get back to town. Local specialities like flying fish and sashimi are all good, but sometimes all you want is a bowel of noodles. And I'm not talking about chicken soup; I'm talking about ramen! Or even better. . . abura-men!

The literal translation of "abura-men" is "oil noodles," but don't let that turn you off. This is ramen without the broth water! Oh, I love the warm, salty greasyness of Kyushu-style ramen, but after a cold hike in the rain, sometimes I don't need my noodles to be soaked too! At NAbura, the signature dish comes in two phases: Phase 1 will fill your craving, and Phase 2 will fill your stomach!

Phase 1: When you order your noodles, the server will tell you to stir everything up as best you can. (You can add a little vinegar, too, but I like to save that for the next part. . . ) Even then, after you've slurped up the noodles, you're bound to end up with a pile scrumptious morsels at the bottom of the bowel. That's okay. In fact, do leave some extra morsels behind for the next phase!

Phase 2: Let the server know you've finished the noodles and he'll bring you a bowl of rice to dump atop the left-over morsels. I usually order the "Omori" (extra noodles) and together with the rice it's about the right size to fill me up.

If you're extra-hungry, it's all good though: Fried rice, or  garlicky gyoza, or fresh-tasting deep-fried chicken, or even ramen with the broth!

I like the atmosphere, too. It feels like it could be a little noodle shop tucked away in a big town. There's counter space in front of the TV, but there's also table-space and you can see into the kitchen.

By the way, if Nabura leaves you hungry for more ramen, at lunch time you can find ramen down the street at Jijiya, a local staple, or up the hill at Koshiba--but be forwarned: Koshiba is favorited by the locals and once they run out of broth, that's it for the day!

Location: Anbo 140 (In the heart of Anbo.)
Hours: 11:30am-14:00pm, 6:30pm-9:30pm, closed on Sundays.*
Website:屋久島ラーメン-Nabura-1620380304955160/*Of course, hours are subject to change!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ki no Mi -- Order the mushroom pizza!

For years, now, I'd been hearing about "the best pizza on the island" located somewhere "on the way to Sankara," but the only eatery I could think of in the area was an unpretentious cafe, and it seemed to be closed rather often. So when a bunch of friends called to say they were going to go check out this pizza place, I jumped aboard.

The full name of Ki no Mi is "Ki no Mi: Stone-Oven Bread Factory" (Ki no Mi meaning Fruit of the Tree), and, yes, they have good bread. In fact (at the time of writing), a couple times a week the Pukori Don shop just south of the airport features a selection of Ki no Mi breads.

However, we didn't go there for the bread. We didn't go there for the relaxed atmosphere with a view of the ocean. We went for the pizza. We ordered several and were quite happy with the thin, crispy crust covered in sauce and cheese. But we were overcome with unanimous taste-bud happiness when we reached the mushroom pizza.

Get the mushroom pizza, or two of them. That's all you need to know.

(I should probably mention though, that Ki no Mi is up in the hills, quite a distance from the main road. If you can't get there and you are craving pizza, Il Mare, which is just next to the airport, is an Italian eatery with a variety of wonderful pizzas which I hope to post about soon!)

Ki no Mi(樹の実)
Location: Mugio 335-75. On the windy road that leads to both Sankara and Senpiro Waterfall.
Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays ONLY.*

*Of course, hours are subject to change!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

YukiGokeYa: Shaved ice for adults

"Coffee float" kakigori
Say you just arrived in Yakushima. You just debarked from Yakushima II, the "slow ferry" and, on a whim, you walk into the first building you see. (Maybe you even had some outdated information that said the information booth was there.) Well, these days, there's not much inside besides the ferry ticket counter, a restroom, and some coin lockers that can only be used until 5pm. EXCEPT for the cafe that opened last year on the second floor. You would never guess what an amazing treat awaits those who wonder upstairs: Snow cones have grown up. Kakigori has reached a level you've never experienced.

When Yukigokeya first opened, everyone was talking about the "new curry place," but even though they no longer serve curry, you won't leave hungry (unless you're prone to cold headaches). Now they serve toast and muffins, gourmet coffee, and kakigori (shaved ice deserts). When I last went, they had Ethiopian coffee, Mandarin coffee from Indonesia, and Brazilian coffee with a taste "to make you dance." My advice: If you like rich, dark coffee, order the Mandarin coffee if they have it, and pay the extra 80 yen for an order-made single serving. I know 480 yen is expensive for coffee, but it's good.

"Coffee float" on the left and azuki-milk (red beans with cream) on the right.
Wait! Before you order the coffee, order a shaved ice! At 500 to 600 yen, these aren't exactly cheap either, but these are no carnival-style snow cones! I ordered the "coffee float" kakigori, which features a good serving of ice cream tucked into a mound of fluffy ice. Next to the bowl of ice is a spoon and two small  pitchers: One with delicious black coffee and the other with creamy milk with which to flavor the ice. I have never had a coffee float this good.

2016 Winter Menu: Apple & Banana Hotcake!

I wouldn't have expected such a stylish cafe (with an equally stylish women's fashion shop attached) in the ferry port!

Yuki Goke Ya (雪 苔 屋)
Location: Miyanoura Port, 2nd Floor of the big white building (above the Yakushima Ferry 2 ticket office)
Hours: 10:30am to 4:30pm, closed on Wednesdays and sometimes other days too.*

Check out the pottery!