Chūbu Day 3 – Shirakawa-gō & Takayama

Today’s I went up north from Gifu City to visit Shirakawa-gō and Hida Takayama.

Higano rest stop along the way provides a nice mountainous view.

I was happy that the crepe booth just opened for the day when I arrived!

Just crepe and fresh cream. I like.

And finally we arrived at Shirakawa-gō. This is a UNESCO heritage site featuring a village with traditional housing. This photo is taken from the viewing point.

Thankfully the day was quite clear and everything was visible from afar.

Lunch at a local restaurant was quite mediocre. As this is a remote mountainous region, it is understandable that ingredients used are mainly from land. Do not expect to find seafood in this area. Here I had beef on magnolia leaf (朴叶), cooked over a fire. This is quite a common way of cooking in this northern region of Gifu and I later found many different sets of magnolia leaf and miso paste sold at souvenir shops in Takayama.

After lunch it was time to explore the village. Even though the appearance remains traditional, this area has essentially become a tourist attraction and there are countless souvenir shops along the way catering to tourists.

Wada House is open to public with an entrance fee of ¥300. Traditionally the first level of the house consists of sleeping and living areas (Japanese style of course). The second level is for their workspace which was traditionally silk production (of course, not anymore now). The upper level was for storage I think.

It is indeed a unique place to visit and often unheard of to foreigners.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Takayama, also known as Hida Takayama.

Along this famous street you can find a lot of their local specialties which includes sake, carpentry and wood craft, Hida beef sushi, Hida Beef skewers and lots of souvenir shops. The culture of this town is said to be similar to Kyoto because they had a lot of skilled carpenters in the past who were brought to Kyoto to build their Palace. Indeed, the town has a traditional vibe similar to Kyoto which I really like.

Takayama Sake.

I was most interested to try the Hida Beef skewer and I found a stall which looked good!

There are 3 tyles of beef and their description is on the wall.

To purchase you do so via the vending machine, and then pass the ticket to the cook.

Here is the ¥500 one.

P1040472

IT WAS SO GOOD! I consider this a steal because you’ll never get such good wagyu at this price in Singapore. I also tried the higher cut version but it didn’t taste fresh. This is good and everyone must try.

I became wary of soft cream ice creams because many vendors earlier in my trip do not serve good ones. However, this one looked different from the usual mass production sort because the flavours are really unique. They have Hida Milk flavour and Hida Peach.

I got a mixed flavour and it was so good! It had a very creamy and rich in flavour. Definitely different from mass produced sort found everywhere else.

I also went to a beef store to check out their beef. The prices are so low for such high quality beef! Just look at the marbling. Seeing this makes me not want to have wagyu in Singapore already.

Takayama could be my favourite city in Gifu. Maybe it was because of the Hida Beef, I don’t know, but that’s a legit attraction.

Dinner was at Susaki, the oldest restaurant in Takayama. Honzen Ryōri (本膳料理) is served here. This is a traditional style of Japanese cuisine not commonly found anymore which is said to be the influence of the more well-known Kaiseki. Traditionally, 30 courses were to be served for a meal but as society and time changes, 11 dishes are now served instead.

Japanese clear soup

Roasted shimeiji mushrooms

Tofu and vegetables

Agar of pumpkin, carrots and eggplant with miso

Salted salmon roe, eel rolled with burdock and sweet potato

Taro with green beans and fried gingko

That wasabi lookalike paste on top of the taro is actually green bean paste. I’ll just say ginko never tasted so good before.

Aromatic grilled ayu (sweetfish) with chestnut

Amago (river fish) rolled with shinso

That’s the green tempura – green is from the shinso leaf.

While the fish was tender, my favourite item was the accompanying corn tempura. It was SO GOOD.

Chicken, matsutake mushrooms, shirataki and gingko simmered

Matsutake mushrooms are not commonly used in Singapore but it has appeared in several of my meals this trip. I guess it’s in season.

Shiitake mushrooms, edible chrysanthemum and yam

Rice, pickles, miso soup and fruit

This meal at Susaki is one of my favourite meals this trip and I love how everything was well thought of and meticulously prepared. Ingredients used were fresh and creativity was involved making every dish unique. A dinner like this should cost ¥13,068 per pax.

Restaurant Susaki 洲さき

4-14 shinmei-cho Takayama-shi, Gifu-Ken, Japan

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