|Eels. This photo from matome.naver.jp.|
Eels are also nutritious because their meat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamin A and calcium. The Japanese terms: "unagi" for fresh-water eel, "anago" for salt water eel, which is the healthier option of the two, and less fattening.
From Hiroshima, on my way to Kobe, I decided to take a fast detour to Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture's 2nd biggest city, located at the western fringes of Kansai Region. I was there to see Japan's finest castle - Himeji Castle, which would become my favorite castle in all of Japan.
After the castle visit, and a peek into gorgeous Kokoen Garden, I leisurely strolled back to the main street of Otemaedori towards the JR Himeji Station. I saw a quaint cafe with no English sign. I snuck my head in and loved the vibe inside. I was alone. An adorable old lady appeared so I decided to get my late lunch there - and have my very first eel meal.
I ordered their Conger Eel Rice Meal set costing me 1,500 yen. The set has the usual miso soup, a salad, and the fried eel on a bowl. I initially placed my backpack beside the low table on the tatami mat but it was uncomfortable, so I transferred to the taller tables.
I dug into my eel, done kabayaki style. The meat is firmer than I thought so there's a bit of chewing to be had. My anago-don was savory with a hint of sweetness. There was just a bit of aftertaste, but it could have been my imagination. Otherwise, I wouldn't consume every bit of my anago. Eels are a Japanese family's favorite when there are special occasions. When relatives huddle for a serious discussion, they have eel. I know this much from my Japanese movies. Haha
I was about to go when the photo of a dessert piece seduced my curiosity - Cool Zenzai for 650 yen.
Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert. It has a thick sweet soup with boiled azuki beans and mochi (rice cake); some have shiratama dango (glutinous rice flour dumplings) instead. Mine had a sea of white jelly. In East Japan, Zenzai, called Oshiruko, has a slight twist. It's a more watery preparation. This Kansai version though was delicious.
Cafe Jidai is located at the main commercial drag of Himeji, along Otemaedori street.
|My Zenzai has red beans. mochi balls and white jelly cubes.|
|The main street, Otemaedori, is a straight line from the train station to Himeji Castle. I took this from the train platform. Cafe Jidai is at the left side of this photo.|
#anago #eel # dining #himeji #hyogo