Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Iwakuni Sushi 岩国寿司, Hirasei 平清

Visited 23.04.2015 (Thu)

Hirasei is the middle shophouse in the photo. A panoramic view of Kintakyo seen through the large window pane awaits on the second floor! 
Iwakuni zushi. This is a regional cuisine unique to Iwakuni city located in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Vinegared rice is first scooped into a large wooden frame. Next, other ingredients such as fish slices, eel, shredded egg crepe, fish floss, thinly sliced lotus root and mushroom are spread evenly on top of the rice. The steps are repeated a couple of times until several layers are formed. After that, the contents are pressed hard under weights to compact it. The huge pressed sushi is then divided into squares and ready to be served. It was said that this sushi was a favourite of the ruling feudal lord at that point of time (more than 500 years ago!). Around Kintaikyo Bridge, there are a handful of restaurants offering this signature dish on their menu and Hirasei is one of them. After visited Kintaikyo and Iwakuni Castle, we decided to head down to Hirasei, which is strategically located just in front of the iconic wooden arched bridge, to settle our lunch before returning to Hiroshima city.

Panoramic view. Hirasei has a long established reputation in this area since 1858 and has diligently followed the traditional way of making Iwakuni zushi 岩国寿司 to date. Here, patrons can savour Iwakuni zushi together with a main and side dishes in a set meal. I had the ja-nome gozen じゃのめ御膳 (1,700 yen) which comprised of vegetable tempura, sashimi, vinegared lotus root, a simmered dish, chawanmushi and most importantly, Iwakuni zushi. Hirasei's version of Iwakuni zushi is only made up of a single layer of rice covered on top with sliced mushrooms, shredded egg crepe and sakura fish floss. Personally, I felt it tasted as good as any other nigiri sushi I have eaten before, only that this is a reconstructed version, with a much novel appearance. Lotus root (or renkon), being a famous agricultural produce of Iwakuni, was also featured as tempura and vinegared form in the set meal - love the crisp texture of this root vegetable. One perk for seating on the second level of the restaurant is we could look out of the huge window panel to admire an obstructed view of Kintaikyo. What a luxury to relish lunch and enjoy a panoramic view at the same time!


Hirasei 平清
741-0062 山口県岩国市岩国1丁目2-3
Operating hours: 1100 - 1400 hrs; 1700 - 2000 hrs; closed on Tuesdays

How to get there?

(1) By foot. Less than a minute walk from Kintaikyo Bus Center.

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