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YANAGAWA, JAPAN – Welcome to Yanagawa, located on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. Today is an extra cold day, snowing and so instead of driving we decided to take the train to get to Yanagawa – from Fukuoka it took about an hour.
Yanagawa is a very pleasant town, located along the beautiful Japanese coast, and home to plenty of fresh seafood and something they are most famous for; unagi, or eel. When it comes to Japanese food, Yanagawa is one of the capitals of eel! But first, we took a traditional boat ride through the canal system to enjoy the peace and natural beauty of the town.
Eel restaurant 1: Saraya Fukuryu: https://goo.gl/maps/qLu4wLXwkWPTdR4ZA
While on the boat ride, I could smell the smoky aroma of eels being grilled and it was almost unbearable, so we decided to try our first eel – and this was a recommendation from our boat captain. The eel was delicious and fresh, caramelized with a sweet soy sauce glaze, and served over rice in a wooden lacquer box. It was my first taste of Yanagawa eel… but more and better coming up!
Total price – 8,150 JPY ($63.48 USD) for 2 boxes
Alien Fish Seafood Shop: https://goo.gl/maps/3d3KwsGX3Ph8VpC17
Next up we went to a legendary seafood restaurant, more like a seafood market with a restaurant in the back. They had a nice catch, but one of their specialties is alien fish – literally alien fish – something otherworldly which they catch right off the coast of Yanagawa. They recommended some as sashimi and some deep fried. I also tried a number of other dishes, all of which were as fresh as possible and delicious.
Total price – 8,800 JPY ($68.54 USD) for everything
Main eel restaurant: Ganso Motoyoshiya: https://goo.gl/maps/xDbBq9d63dvNt2GK8
Finally we made it to our main reservation for the main meal of the day and the most highly regarded and renowned Japanese eel restaurant in Yanagawa; Ganso Motoyoshiya. They’ve literally been serving their eel recipe since 1681. I was extremely lucky to have a chance to enter the kitchen to see just how they grill the eels to perfection, dip them into the sauce, grill again, and then place them over rice in a wooden box before steaming it altogether. This style of serving unagi / eel, which is called Unagi no Seiromushi, is unique to Yanagawa and one of the signatures of Ganso Motoyoshiya. I went all out and ordering the biggest set includes 3 types of eel. It was outstanding!
Total price – 21,700 JPY ($157.94 USD), but my set cost 8,200 JPY ($59.71 USD)
Yanagawa is a fantastic town to visit on a day trip from Fukuoka to enjoy the peace of the canals and especially the delicious Yanagawa eels, and quick alien fish sashimi!
Thank you to Visit Kyushu (https://www.visit-kyushu.com/en/) for helping me organize this food tour.
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