I was away for slightly more than a week for a Japan trip. Normally when foreigners visit Japan, they tend to focus on the Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Kyoto & Osaka) regions. Chūbu is central Japan and is relatively less popular, though not lacking in potential. Access to this region is easy with a direct flight on SIA daily to Chūbu Centrair International Airport located in the Aichi Prefecture, south of Nagoya. Nagoya is the capital of Aichi prefecture and center of the third largest metropolitan region in Japan, behind Tokyo and Osaka.
This is my first time taking SQ for a Japanese route and I have to say the meals are better than usual. I previously took ANA and thought their meals were comparatively better than most other flights I’ve taken but now I realised it’s a Japan thing. I reckon every flight to and from Japan would have better meals than other routes because the Japanese style meals are so good! I mean, this is nothing compared to all the food in Japan, even bentos from convenience stores. But I’m comparing to the usual inflight meals which are declining in standard by day and this is so much better.
I love everything in this box, even the rice. I took an overnight flight, so this was breakfast. The menu was kind of disappointing actually. There wasn’t even any snacks going around before breakfast. I was hungry and all they could offer me was Khong Guan biscuits and wafers (which tasted extremely good during the state of hunger + no choice). Perhaps lunch and dinner version of Japanese meals would be even better!
The first stop of the trip was Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮) in Nagoya City.
There are snakes living in the roots of this old tree!
Ok I am the worst person to talk about shrines because for travelling, religious places or ancient architecture is just not my thing. I prefer natural sights over man made culture anytime, but generally if you like shrines you’ll be pleased to find one in Nagoya.
Lunch was at Kisoji (木曽路), a famous chain restaurant in Japan specialising in Shabu Shabu, and this is probably the best Shabu Shabu I’ve had so far. (Disclaimer: I seldom have shabu shabu, probably less than 10 times in my life.) The outlet I dined at was near Sakae, one of the busy districts in Nagoya.
This is not plain water. It is clear broth.
Two types of dipping sauces were provided. I personally preferred the ponzu sauce on the right over the sesame sauce.
The beef here was very thinly slices and adequately marbled. Marbling is essential for the cooked beef to be tender.
To eat, you blanch the beef slices to the doneness up to your liking and dunk the whole thing in the dipping sauce. The meat was very tender and fresh.
Mochi and thick noodles were served later.
The lunch ended off with green tea and matcha pudding.
Lunch here typically costs between ¥3000 – ¥6000 for the shabu shabu course like what I had, price depending on the quality of beef selected. Menu for this outlet is available here.
The next stop after lunch was to Gifu City in Gifu Prefecture. That’s the place where I’ll be spending the next 3 nights at. Compared to bustling Nagoya, Gifu is relatively untouched and more scenic. The first attraction was the most famous attraction of the city – Gifu Castle. The castle is on top of Mount Kinka and facing Nagara River, a very clean river that runs through several cities.
To get up, you can take the ropeway from the foot of Mount Kinka to somewhere near the top. Further climbing is still required though, so it is important to be in comfortable walking attire and footwear.
The ropeway was similar to the one I tried in Ibaraki last year! I love this kind of attractions, going up a mountain and looking down to the panoramic scenery.
This view sums up Gifu City. It quite a country side place surrounded by mountains and a river. In front of the stadium somewhere towards the middle left of the photo is Gifu Miyako Hotel, the hotel I put up at for the next 3 nights.
The hotel was quite dated but comfortable.
The view from my room was lovely. That is Mount Kinka with Gifu Castle on the top.
Along Nagara River are boats and I’ll get to sail on one of those on Day 2 to witness Ukai Fishing. More on that on the next post.
The skies were clear today and I got a glimpse of the beautiful dusk with a bright crescent moon along Nagara River. How lovely. Dinner was at Senryu, a Teppanyaki restaurant located along Nagara River and close to Gifu Miyako Hotel. This is one of the best rated restaurants in Gifu and the beef served here is their local specialty wagyu – Hida beef.
Hida (飛驒) beef is relatively unheard of in Singapore comparing to other sorts of wagyu like Kobe or Ohmi which we can easily find. In fact, it is almost non-existent in Singapore. However, being unheard of does not mean it is inferior. In fact, it is equally good (or even better) than the Kobe beef I had in Kobe and Osaka! Hida refers to the northern region of Gifu Prefecture, and Hida beef comes from the cattle raised there. The beef is distributed throughout Gifu. I highly recommend coming to Gifu just to have this beef. It does not make sense to have this anywhere else because you will only find the best quality and price in Gifu itself, especially in Hida region like Takayama. More on that in future posts!
The teppanyaki course started with appetizer, soup and salad.
I was told that the marbling is A5.
Garlic and beef fats are placed below the slab of steak.
And then the beef was cooked teppanyaki style.
The beef was indeed the best beef I’ve ever tasted! The marbling was so good and the fats simply melted in my mouth.
The accompanying vegetables were good too and my favourite is the mocha cake (not vegetable actually). The fried garlic was nice and crispy but too the taste was too heavy for me after a while. The fried beef fats were like a better version of fried lard. It was so crispy and sinfully addictive!
Rice, miso soup and dessert was served after and that concluded a wonderful first dinner in Gifu. The entire course should cost ¥10,557 per pax.
I personally will not want to have wagyu beef in Singapore anymore after realising how much better quality beef I can find in Japan itself and how much more reasonably priced it is.