Niimi City is a place full of surprises, yes, you read this right: Niimi City! If you don’t know Niimi, it is located about 1h30 North of Kurashiki and it has been one of my favorite stop for great food since I arrived in Japan. Ramen Tomare and Chiya Beef yakiniku are both worth the trip alone, but Yanagi Soba is off the chart . First, you will have to find this place!
The restaurant is well hidden from the main road so you will need to spot this sign. Even from the parking, it’s difficult to spot the restaurant.
This is the entrance gate and please notice the board on the left which says that you can only eat here if you have a reservation.
The restaurant itself is a stylish wooden building located next to a Japanese house and a nice garden.
The interior is very simple and the restaurant has only 3 tables.
Nice stove in the corner, a reminder to come visit in winter.
The hand written daily menu, the restaurant offers two lunch menus, a beef menu which was a bit more than 3000 yen and a fish menu. We ordered the beef menu.
When we visited, the chef was serving only 6 guests, so you will really need to make a reservation. The attention the details was amazing.
The first appetizer was two tiny rolled cabbage with a sauerkraut sauce, a piece of fish, seasonal green and an avocado mousse with crab.
The second appetizer was a terrine with a paprika sauce.
The execution and the taste was simply outstanding. I really didn’t expect something this fancy.
Then we got an onion soup with home made bread.
Our main course was a beautiful steak of Chiya beef which is the local type of wagyu.
The beef was divinely tender and came with a tasty salsa and a small gratin. Simple, but when meat is that good, you don’t need much.
This is the view from our table.
The second main course was soba. Yanagi serves both soba and French cuisine.
My first portion of soba.
My wife soba
The chef offers a second portion to anyone who has an appetite for it. This is my second portion and I was informed that it’s a different type of handmade soba.
The soba are made daily and you can see the soba making room when you walk in the restaurant on your left hand side. Sorry for the bad picture.
The dessert was very simple.
Yanagi was a great discovery and I will certainly go back to try their summer menu. I saw a book with pictures from all their seasonal menus and I certainly hope I can try all four seasons. If you intend to visit, please reserve well in advance. Fusion food is often a bit weird, but the combination of soba and French food at Yanagi stricks a good balance. Let me know if you visit.