Pub crawl

Barhopping around Gujo

Travelling by Nagaragawa Railway from JR Mino Ohta Station, Gifu-ken Minokamo-shi for around half and one hour, I finally arrived at the entrance of Gujo Hachiman “Gujo Hachiman Station”. Walking through this really nice old town, I believe there must be good taverns around. Finished making a reservation for my accommodation for tonight, I am ready for my drink!! About 20 minutes’ walk from the station, across the Shinbashi Bridge, I find my first destination, “Izumisaka”.

Enjoying local food and beverage
at “Izumisaka”

Enjoying local food and
beverage at “Izumisaka”

Let start my food tour from here! I see a large iron plate right after I entered the entrance. I can smell they started making this very nice teppan-yaki.

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Kei-chan (Stir fried chicken with miso sauce), Mino chicken steak, Hoba-miso-yaki (Magnolia leaves with miso sauce), Hida beef and many many other dishes that you can only find in Gujo. There are too many I want to try. Only one night is actually not quite enough. First, let me order this “Hoba-miso-yaki” and “Tsukemono (Pickles) steak” and start my meal with sake!

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“Hoba-miso-yaki” is Miso sauce with shiitake mushroom and vegetable on hoba leaves and marbled Hida beef on top.

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Grilled Hida beef tastes so soft and it simply melts inside my mouth. It goes so well with my sake! And. Also it matches with rice too.

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“Tsukemono steak” is Napa cabbage’s pickles mixed with red turnip. Putting an egg on top and get well grilled on your table. Talking with the locals sitting next to you is so much fun! He told me that he usually orders “Tofu Dengaku (Grilled tofu with sweet miso paste”. At the back of my seat, I meet again a tourist who is travelling from Australia. We took the Nagawagawa Railway together earlier today. What’s a nice reunion, cheers!

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After a few more cups of sake, next dish is local chicken steak. Okumino chicken are raised here at opening areas at Gujo Hachiman. The meat is more tendered than I ever had!

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I still want to taste a few more dishes after all these. One of them is “Gujo-yaki”. Once there were 5 to 6 shops selling old cheap snacks, also provided this teppan-yaki. The first chef cherished this local dish and put it on his menu when he started his own shop. Sauce used is very smooth and light that I can finish it so quickly! These chewy noodles used in “Gujo Yakisoba (Fried noodles)” are made at local noodle factory.

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After enjoying this teppan-yaki and chatting with locals, I am so satisfied.

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Having one more drink at
“Shinobu” at the alley

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Hachiman, GujoMorning markets & eating around13 Hachiman, GujoMorning markets & eating around15 Hachiman, GujoMorning markets & eating around17 Hachiman, GujoMorning markets & eating around19 Hachiman, GujoMorning markets & eating around21

Having one more drink at “Shinobu” at the alley

The second destination is “Shinobu” located at the alley. After going through the shop curtain, owner of the pub, Ms Hisae, pours me a drink with a big smile.

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I order the most famous dish here in Gujo “Kei-chan” and Nihonshu (Japanese alcohol). Hot chicken placed on a 50-year-old iron plate and starts grilling in front of you. They only use Okumino local chicken legs and marinate with special miso sauce and sweet sake. The sweet smell really goes well with sake! If you have work to do on the next day, Ms Hisae will provide separate garlic for you. It is a kind of consideration from the owner.

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Ms Hisae started this shop providing Okonomi-yaki and Yaki-soba. Students from the dressmaking school nearby came for lunch. Workers attracted by her personality started to come for a drink after work. So, she started this teppan-yaki shop. Before coming to Gujo for marriage, she studied Japanese and foreign dressmaking but never worked before. She said she was taught by the customers who came here earlier.

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Although it is a pub, family with children come here too. Her dishes do not contain any spicy ingredients and you can find Kotatsu (Japanese foot warmer) seats too. A regular customer who is nearly 90 years old said he used to come here for a long time.

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“Shinobu” is the kind of pub that you can say “Tadaima (I’m home!)” even if it is your first time. I chatted with some regular customers here and went for the next few pubs together. They said they used to have Sushi to end the night. I really have to try it next time!

minokamo(Akiko Nagao)

minokamo (Akiko Nagao)

Come from Minokamo-shi, Gifu-ken. Local food researcher, photographer, illustrator. Bases on her memory of making food with her grandma, she starts holding events and producing menus using local ingredients to connect food with people. She also produces receipts which can be found in all kinds of media, makes menus for local stations, collects local food data throughout Japan, takes pictures and do writings. As a photographer, she also designs new menus and provides styling. She uses food as a conductor to make happiness. She is running a serial about seasonal food on Gifu Shimbun.

Photographs by minokamo