Monday, May 2, 2016

Oysters for Breakfast

After bidding farewell to our lovely ryokan in the charming island of Miyajima, we made our leisurely stroll down to the pier to catch the return ferry back to Hiroshima. But just before that, we made a pit stop at Kaki-ya for some oysters as our second breakfast (we had our first at the ryokan before we left).

Our original plan was to visit the restaurant the day before in the afternoon, but as we dropped by at around 2pm, they already sold out all their oyster stock and closed the shop. That's why we decided to make amend by going back here in the morning the next day, just as they opened for business. Kaki-ya, with the name literally mean Oyster House, was unlike any other shops on this old street of Omotesando dated back to the late Edo period, lined with typical souvenir shops and restaurants on the path led to the famous shrine. The restaurant was uncharacteristically stylish and modern, with the minimalist decor, dark furniture with spot lighting resembles more of a trendy metropolitan western bar than one serving traditional Japanese cuisine in a rural town. At the front was a little counter selling prepared food product made of oysters, a small bar and an open kitchen where kaki-yaki (grilled oysters) was prepared.

We were among one of their first customers of the day so there were plenty of seats available, but as we have experienced the day before, this place can get extremely popular with tables filled up all day in this 2-story building. Menu was rather straight forward – just everything oysters cooked in any way you could imagine, be it raw, steamed, grilled, baked, deep-fried or one preserved in oil or served with rice cooked with oyster juice (kaki-meshi). Or if you couldn’t decide, there’s also an off-menu “Kaki-ya Set”, which essentially is their tasting menu. And the wine list was extensive, with a long lineup of wines (mostly white, for obvious reasons, and in particular, with no less than a dozen bottles of Chablis) from all over the world, many available both by the glass or by bottle, plus a few local sakes and cocktails (on the day of our visit, they have a few house-made mojitos available)

Running out of room to try their signature kaki-meshi after our first breakfast at the ryokan, we instead went for the kaki-yaki and oyster au gratin to share. Having tried the grilled oysters at another restaurant nearby the day before (after we found out Kaki-ya was closed for the day), it’s clear that the one we had this morning at Kaki-ya was the clear winner. The grilled oysters came in very decent size even after cooked (we ordered the premium grade ones so that explained why). Hiroshima oysters were typically not the juicy type but the taste was rich and delicious. I don’t think they did anything more than a slight sprinkle of salt and we didn’t need to put anything on to enjoy them either. And it’s cooked just right on its own shell over high heat so the meat retained the delicate texture without getting tough.

The oyster au gratin dish was an unusual item in a traditional Japanese oyster restaurant. It’s broiled with béchamel sauce and cheese, with sprinkles of peppers and herbs on top. Each serving came with 3 pieces, and I personally thought they were even better than the grilled ones with the gluey melted cheese working well with the baked oysters, again came in pretty good size and cooked just right through.

There’s no such thing as too early for alcohol so we did went for a couple glasses to go with our oyster dishes. I had a glass of sake said to be perfect for Yaki-gaki. The Ugonotsuki Junmai Ginjo came from the local Aihara Shuzo Brewery near Hiroshima and was dry but fruity with a refreshing aroma. I thought it’s light enough for an easy morning drink yet held up well with the rich oyster taste.

We were glad to have visited the restaurant on second try before we left this wonderful island, and were pretty confident that the oyster dishes at Kaki-ya represented some of the best served in this area famous for its oysters.

When? April 26 2016
Where? Kaki-ya, 539 Miyajima-cho, Hatsuka-ichi, Hiroshima, Japan
牡蠣屋 広島県廿日市市宮島町539
Menu Highlights? Kaki-gaki (Grilled Oysters in their own shell)
Drink? Ugonotsuki Junmai Ginjo - Aihara Shuzo, Hiroshima Prefecture
雨後の月 純米吟醸 - 広島県 相原酒造

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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