佐渡観光協会のＷＥＢサイトに佐渡の”お宿ごはん”革命 『佐渡素材への熱き思いを形に。ホテル志い屋&ホテル吾妻の挑戦』（英語タイトル：Sado’s “Oyado Gohan (Inn Meal) Revolution”）と題する記事が掲載されました．
Sado’s “Oyado Gohan” (Inn Meal) Revolution – “Turning Passion into Real Memories, Hotel Shiiya and Hotel Azuma’s Challenges”
Turning Passion into Real Memories, Hotel Shiiya and Hotel Azuma’s Challenges
“Meals at inns are the same everywhere.” This is what the people of these hotels set out to change. We followed them on their quest for memorable meals that can only be had on Sado.
Hotel Shiiya – Putting their legwork and ideas to work to live up to their customer’s expectations.
“Everybody enjoys local produce. We don’t want to let them down on their expectations,” says Tomomi Kawauchi, a veteran head chef who has been working at Shiiya for 12 years. “Kanburi (winter yellowtail) from the beginning of November to December is a well known delicacy, but if you’re on Sado, you must have squid. A kind of squid called “sumi ika” on Sado is just about to be in season. It’s meaty and sweet, totally delicious.” In October, Beni Zuwaigani (a kind of snow crab) season will begin, and local seafood such as cod and anglerfish will be at their best in the winter.
New Cuisine for the New Age
These past several years, tourists have been demanding a “satisfying trip at a reasonable price.” People are moving away from expensive local produce. Chef Kawauchi who goes shopping every morning says, “the challenge is to buy as much local produce as you can at a minimum cost.” The other challenge is the idea.
An icon of such endeavor is buri flakes that have been served at breakfast since two years ago. The flakes are made by simmering small pieces of yellowtail in tamari (a type of soy sauce) and sake for a long time. As many customers wanted to take some home, they’ve even begun selling them in jars.
The chef’s creativity also shines in the dinner menu as we were treated to over-night dried fluke and fast-grilled namban prawns. The fluke is specially ordered for the hotel and the prawns are grilled ever so quickly over high flames after being salted to perfection. The taste is quite distinct from sashimi and impressively refreshing.
Hard at Work Everyday
“I thought there was something wrong when I was called to a room by a guest. Instead they said, ‘Thank you, that was a delicious meal.’ That really made me happy,” says Chef Kawauchi. “That gave me an impetus to work harder than ever. I have to better myself everyday,” he says with conviction.
Come taste his unique creations on an island of nurture and calm.
“My dream is to have my customers eat fish that I catch myself,” says Chef Kawauchi.
Sashimi of aji (Japanese horse mackerel), buri (yellowtail), and namban prawns. The local fish are so much sweeter and fresher!
Aori ika (local squid) that is available from fall to winter almost melts in your mouth.
Sado’s koshihikari (type of rice) is served in a Mumyoiyaki bowl.
Buri flakes are made by simmering in a large pot for an hour and a half to two hours.
The seasoning includes tamari shoyu (very dark soy sauce) and sake. Fresh ginger is also added to counter the smell of fish. Delicious on rice, buri flakes are positively addictive.
Buri flakes is a must have for breakfast on Sado Island. A jar can be had for 600 yen.
Nagamo shinjo is a dish that Chef Kawauchi developed himself using Sado’s specialty seaweed nagamo.
Grilled oysters caught fresh at Lake Kamo. The miso sauce is a secret recipe passed down through the ages.
Fluke that has been dried overnight and namban prawn are grilled lightly to bring out the flavor of each fish.
Hot springs ryokan on the shores of Lake Kamo. The business was originally founded as a shipping agency in 1908. You can enjoy seasonal flowers in the lobby.
DATA: Hotel Shiiya
- 4916-7 Kamo Utashiro, Sado-shi (TEL: 0259-27-2127)
- Getting there: Seven minutes by car from Ryotsu Harbor. Ten minutes by bus on the Niigata Kotsu Sado Bus Honsen Line. Get off at Tojo-bashi bus stop, then 3 minutes by foot. * Free shuttle available from Ryotsu Harbor (reservation required.)
- Click here for their website.
Cherish the Raw Material to Create a Dish that is Unique to the Inn — Hotel Azuma
“If you stay in one place too long, your palate becomes numb. It’s important to go out to the cities,” says top chef of Hotel Azuma, Kazuo Nakajima. To cultivate his culinary palate, he goes to Tokyo every month and attends a study group. “All I can do is attend to the food ingredients and do my best.” You can sense his commitment to his craft.
Every morning for the past thirty years he has been going to the market to buy fish and other local ingredients himself. “Maguro (tuna) is hard to buy local, but I only buy local fish otherwise.”
Much of the top local produce ends up being shipped to the mainland, and the amount of food needed to fill the demands of large hotels can be a problem for local produce, too. Sado’s inns have a lot of issues to deal with, but Chef Nakajima keeps on fighting to feed his guests with local goodies.
Sado’s strength is in the variety of foods. Chef Nakajima has created many unique dishes using Sado’s best produce. Okesa gaki (a type of dried persimmon) sherbet that has now become a staple of Sado’s inns was inspired by frozen mandarins commonly sold at train stations. The inspiration was informed by frozen Shonai gaki (frozen persimmon) that was already being made, and found its expression in Okesa gaki.
The dishes made by Chef Nakajima at Hotel Azuma are all appealing. For example, the guests drop the fish mixture from a bamboo container by a spatula themselves to create a miso soup made with ground flying fish fillet called “chikurai.” Chef Nakajima wouldn’t give us the recipe for the fluffy fish balls (a trade secret,) but he told us that he got the idea from watching an o-banyaki (pancake-like dough filled with sweet azuki bean paste) maker. The range of ideas and source of inspiration is amazing. Another popular item is mekabu zosui, a congee made with the root-end of wakame, a type of seaweed. It’s perfect for nursing a hangover.
In Search of the Future of Inn Meals
“Meals at inns have always given the impression of providing a great variety of dishes, but from now on, we should eliminate the things that are superfluous. What I think the future needs is something that the customer truly appreciates,” says the young proprietress of the inn Seiko Fukami. On occasion, the chef creates a new dish based on a request of the young proprietress or other staff of the inn.
Chef Nakajima says, “Inns should serve dishes that get the most out of Sado’s local produce and add special touches to give them individuality and uniqueness.” Inns might compete against one another to create signature dishes and so that the visitors would look forward to having a particular dish at a particular inn. Such a day may not be so far in the future.
Mekabu zosui served at breakfast. It’s gentle on an over-worked stomach and very characteristic of Sado.
Proprietress Fukami and the staff meet every morning to discuss details of their guests’ stays and start the day in best form. Their motto is to be “cheery and full of energy.”
The inn is located on a perfect spot to take in the view of the ocean. You can also enjoy the healing waters of Aikawa Hot Springs in the large bath with a view or a private outdoor bath overlooking the ocean.
Igoneri (made from dried seaweed that is full of minerals and fiber) is a staple of the inns on Sado. Here, it is given a special place served in a bowl of Mumyoiyaki and soaked in thickened dashi (broth made from dried bonito.)
Kazuo Nakajima is a veteran chef that has been with Hotel Azuma for over 30 years. Frozen Okesa persimmon was his idea that spread all over Sado.
Seven cooks prepare all the food served at Hotel Azuma. They’re constantly working to improve the food.
An example of dinner. Sashimi of botan prawn, zuwai crab, shimadai (parrot fish), aori squid are all locally caught.
Miso soup called Chikurai made with ground fly fish fillet. The guests drop the ground fillet mixtures into the pot and add the miso themselves. They get to enjoy making it and eating it.
With a little creativity, a simple crab dish becomes a memorable occasion.
DATA: Hotel Azuma
- 548-1 Aikawa Oura, Sado-shi (TEL: 0259-74-0001)
- Getting there: About one hour by car from Ryotsu Harbor. Or, 1 hour and 10 minutes by Niigata Kotsu Sado Bus mainline bus to Aikawa. Free shuttle from the Aikawa bus station is available. (Reservations required.)
- Click here for Hotel Azuma’s website.
Sado Tourism Association 2F Ryotsu Port. Terminal Bldg. 353 Ryotsu-minato, Sado, Niigata, 952-0014 Japan