Monday, January 22, 2018

Staying in a Cozy Ryokan

I didn’t expect Kyushu would be this cold when I made the trip there a couple of weeks ago to kick off the year 2018, with a nasty mixture of rain and sleet coming down hard just as I cleared immigration and custom at Fukuoka and tried to make my way to the ryokan I was staying in. This time I was staying two nights at this lovely place called Zen Oyado Nishitei (いつも膳・お宿 西亭旅館), a bit off the beaten track (about a 10 minute walk from the nearest metro station).

We first saw this place listed in the D&Department guide book for Fukuoka and wife actually stayed there a few months back and liked it, so I thought I would do the same this time. On the outside the century-old building looked just like any traditional Japanese house in a mainly residential neighborhood. There’s a cozy homey feel to this place the moment I stepped in, when I was greeted by its owner Seiko Nishio who settled me in one of the 6 rooms on the second floor.

The single tatami room was traditionally decorated with scrolls of paintings and pottery yet decently equipped and definitely with sufficient space for up to 2 people. The shared bathroom was just right next to the room with shower and bath facilities a few more steps away downstairs. It’s especially comforting having a dip in the hot tub after the rainy day, or just enjoy the flower arrangement throughout the building or at the garden near the entrance.

The ryokan offered full meals during the day as option, and I did stay in for breakfast and dinner once. Both were fabulous. The 6-course dinner was served in Japanese-French fusion style in the dining room downstairs, with local ingredients prepared in western cooking style presented in traditional Japanese crockery. I was intrigued by the lidded bowl with colorful glaze in typical Kutani-yaki style used for the comforting cream of cauliflower soup. That came right before the two main courses served in order – first the pan-fried John Dory fillet (from the nearby Genkai Sea) with drizzles of olive oil and dots of tapenade sauce, then the tender veal fillet served with a mustard-red wine reduction sauce. And I finished with an onigiri with scallops and dashi soup stock, plus the dessert of strawberry compote and chocolate cake. They even came with a good wine list, but this time I opted for a glass of locally-brewed imo shochu on the rock, in the true Kyushu style.

Breakfast next morning was done in more traditional Japanese style and was also good, with grilled fish, tamago egg roll, mentaiko (spicy cod roes), stewed vegetables and pickles served with rice and miso soup. It’s beautifully presented and satisfying, and I felt particularly warmed enjoying the meal inside while glancing at the light snow flurries through the window.

I have nothing but praise of my experience staying here. Honey, we should definitely come back to stay here when we return to Kyushu, this time together. =)

When? January 8-10, 2018
Where? Zen Oyado Nishitei, 1-8-10 Shirogane, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan
いつも膳・お宿 西亭旅館 福岡市中央区白金1丁目8-10

Kyushu Travel Series (January 2018):

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