Part 2: Matsumoto & Takayama

Having a long journey ahead of us we picked up something to eat at the train station and arrived in Matsumoto ready to wonder around and find Matsumoto Castle sitting atop a reflective lake.

Matsumoto Castle

Before we knew it, evening had turned to dusk and dusk to twighlight and then darkness.  We quickly looked around for a place for dinner and ended up asking a couple for directions.  We showed them a photo of the entrance to the restaurant we wanted to go to; they discussed between themselves where they thought it was, and walked us to the restaurant!

We chose a local, family-run restaurant where we ordered horsemeat sashimi – which I have to say was absolutely delicious, if we hadn’t known that it was horsemeat we would have been none the wiser, we probably we have enjoyed it as beef carpaccio!  This was followed by a pork cutlet served over rice with once again the ubiquitous miso soup.  The cutlet was juicy and tender and coated in an omelette loaded with spring onions – very tasty.

Hida Beef was on the menu in Takayama.  The first of my two Hida beef experiences was as a Hida beef sizzler.  Beef served in strips on a scorching hot sizzler, the waiter instructing us to turn the slices over until we were happy with how they were cooked.  This restaurant had a diner kind of feel, with pictures of food and their prices on the walls and blueish fluorescent lighting, however, the beef was delicious.  The second experience was more innovative.  We walked to Trip Advisor’s #1 Restaurant in Takayama – if you’re not careful, you miss it!  A shop-front full of chintzy relics from the past in total disarray greets you, however walk through the shop, pushing an old gate open at the back of the shop, to find – Center4Hamburgers; also covered in chintzy relics from the past.  Fully booked for lunchtime we booked a table for that evening.

And yes, I thought to myself, I should be eating sushi and sashimi NOT hamburgers in Japan.

But Hida beef being a delicacy of the region and trying to experience different foods we had previously agreed to try and give everything a go.  The burgers were amazing, the Hida beef cooked pink with a savoury seasoning coating the crispy, sweet meat and covered in melted cheese; served with spicy mayo on crisp lettuce in a toasted sesame bun.  Each bite a feast for the mouth.

At the traditional Japanese Ryokan that we were staying at I opted to have a Japanese breakfast.  We had booked our breakfast for a specific time and made our way to the dining room.  Set before us as we walked up to the table were all the constituents of the meal:

Miso soup, cooked salmon, coddled egg, pickles, dumplings in syrup, yoghurt and seasonal fruits, all arranged in little bowls.  On either side of the tray stood a burner with, spicy tofu soup on the left burner and slices of Hida beef with miso paste on the right for me to cook to my liking.  Served with as much rice as I wanted; all to be washed down with jasmine tea.

For those that ordered a Western Style breakfast there was a burner on the go ready for diners to fry their eggs or to make an omelette, a salad, yoghurt and seasonal fruits.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience – dressed in my Yukata, sat cross legged at the table, sampling all the delicious components that made my extremely, healthy and well-balanced breakfast.  A great way to start another hectic day of sight seeing and travelling.  My only advice if having a Japanese breakfast is that you cannot be in a rush.  There are so many parts of the breakfast to get through you need time to enjoy them all!

After Takayama it was onto Kyoto…

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