Then we headed north and stopped by the town of Saga on our way for a quick lunch at Kira, a restaurant specializes in beef cuisine. The restaurant, with a few branches around Kyushu and in Tokyo in addition to its original Saga location, is owned by JA Saga, the regional farm cooperatives. They are the champions for fresh farm products from the region, especially Saga Beef, perhaps their best known export famous for the rich wagyu meat taste and marbled fat.
Since it was Saturday and the second day of the Japanese Golden Week long holiday, the place was packed even as we reached there only slightly after 11am - early for lunch by any means. Luckily, it was only a manageable 20 minute wait in the seating area of the lobby before we were seated at the back room right next to the main dining hall on the ground floor.
I was surprised that they ran a much abbreviated lunch menu compared to the Hakata branch, without the option of Seiromushi, the traditional way of cooking Saga Beef by gently steaming in a wooden "basket" with vegetables. At the end we needed to make a special request to order it under the dinner menu, because we loved it very much when we tried this unique cooking method the last time and specifically came for it.
Rice and soup were served alongside with the beef, which was prepared using local ingredients too. And we finished with a dessert of sweet soy panna cotta.
Overall I thought the food was excellent here, right on par of what I expected, but I definitely preferred the Hakata branch than one in Saga for much better service and being more conveniently located. We were particularly put off by the Chinese-speaking staff hired as translator/liaison for foreign customers, as it soon became apparent that he's not helpful nor friendly nor knowledgeable, so he became kind of a nuisance to me. I found it strange that the Michelin Guide decided to give one star to the Saga branch but none for the Hakata branch - did we both go to the same restaurants?
More photos in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157667754799832
When? April 30 2016
Where? Kira Honten, 3-9-16 Otakara, Saga, Japan
Menu Highlights? Saga Beef Seiromushi
Kyushu + Hiroshima Travel "Series":
1. Day 2: Motsunube Treat in Fukuoka
2. Day 3: One Dish Wonder
3. Day 3: Ryokan by the Park
4. Day 4: Oysters for Breakfast
5. Day 4: Hiroshima's Okonomiyaki
6. Day 4: Three Stars in Hiroshima
7. Day 5: Abalone Cuisine in Karatsu
8. Day 6: Top Morning Market? What?
9. Day 6: Hip Ryokan in Ureshino
10. Day 6: China on the Park
11. Day 7: Arita Ceramics Fair - The Real Deal
12. Day 8: Seiromushi Pit Stop
13. Flickr Album: Kyushu + Hiroshima 2016
14. Flickr Album: Food from Kyushu + Hiroshima Trip
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