The last time I went to Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture, I ate a very ordinary meal in a mall. This time around, my wife reserved at Zakuro (ざくろ）, a small restaurant own by a Brazilian woman and her Japanese husband.
Nagato is located about 5km from Nagatoyu onsen, a really cool onsen area nested in a small valley. According to my wife, the owner sounded like the nicest lady when she reserved our 2000 yens mini-kaiseiki menu.
If you wonder what 2000 yens can buy you, I promise you will get your money worth at Zakuro.
The restaurant is located right across the Nagato town office. Look for a traditional house in a small recessed parking lot. The house is very pretty and it has only 3 dinning rooms, so it’s pretty intimate place to have lunch. We had a small room for our own.
Our menu started with a small salad of raw shellfish followed by a plate of sashimi. Nagato is located on the Sea of Japan, so it’s hard to find fresher fishes.
The next course was a chawan mushi. I am not a big fan of chawan mushi, but this one was very well executed and I actually quite enjoyed it.
A small dish of braised eggplant topped with mushroom sauce followed the chawan mushi.
I didn’t know, but Yamaguchi is famous for gigantic eggplants which are so big, that the owner brought an uncooked one so we could see this monster. The skin was removed and the flesh of the eggplant was really soft.
Our main fish course was a miso cured fish served with a fish ball. The miso taste was quite exquisite, it’s one of my favorite Japanese taste.
A simple tempura came next and I was shocked by the lightness of the dish. A perfect tempura is a good way to judge the strength of a Japanese chef and the chef at Zakuro looks like he can certainly pull his weight.
The meal ended with a red miso soup and a small bowl of rice mix with anago.
2000 yens for all this is a steal. The lady cleared the table and brought us some strawberry ice cream and a cup of Brazilian coffee. Simplicity is good and that coffee was the perfect end note to a flawless meal.
The owner is indeed the nicest lady. She became very talkative after I thanked her in Portuguese, I know 3 words, but that all I needed to make her day.
Good service, top-notch food in the most unlikely place for a ridiculous low price. If you ever travel through Nagato, stop at Zakuro.