Iwashiryori Inase

Inase

It is easy to overlook and walk past Inase, which seems to be hiding in the shade of the surrounding establishments in central Oita. Oita is a slick modern city and Inase’s traditional chochin lantern hanging outside its doorway hardly seems to even try to compete with it neighbours’ appealing bright lights. Sliding back the door at Inase is to enter an ‘old-school’ restaurant of worn but comforting simplicity, something in itself that is not too unusual an environment in Japan at large. However, this establishment’s speciality in iwashi sardine dishes makes it a rarity in all Japan but a popular mainstay amongst the locals.

The chef-proprietor is usually of few words as he goes about expertly preparing iwashi as sashimi, sushi, satuma-age deep-fried fish balls, grilled, and finely chopped tataki. Variety on the menu is limited - although a few other non-iwashi dishes are available sometimes as specials - but the results are delicious. Bottled beer, and a large range of sakes and shochu make up the rest of the menu for a simple but very edifying evening meal and an ideal place to start an evening exploring nearby Miyako-machi, Oita City’s main nightlife district.

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