Translated by Greg
Kagoshima's YORU ILCA - Everything Is 300 Yen At This Izakaya!
Written by Kousuke DEKI
YORU ILCA, a Japanese izakaya, specializes in Kagoshima's famous sweet potato shochu and delicious cuisine priced from an inexpensive 300 yen! This traditional Japanese pub is located in the heart of Kagoshima. Visit this welcoming shop and make a friend.
Kagoshima's Great Food and People
Picture courtesy of K.P.V.B
People who have been to Kagoshima Prefecture even only one time often say they would visit again.
Our writer has been captivated by Kagoshima ever since his first trip. In particular, the food is unforgettably delicious.
Kagoshima is surrounded by the sea, which results in fresh fish and seafood. Also, there are many ranches where kurobuta (black pigs) and cows can roam freely. The area is also known for the high quality of its food products.
Something else memorable about Kagoshima is its people. Kagoshima residents are cheerful and kind. Many of them have strong pride in their hometown. We are sure talking to Kagoshima people will leave you feeling happier than you were before.
This is an area where you can enjoy delicious cuisine and drinks while chatting with locals. The place featured in this article is a shop where you can spend your time in a unique Kagoshima way.
This place just might beome your second home.
YORU ILCA - Delicious and Cheap!
YORU ILCA is located right near the center of Kagoshima. The above picture shows the izakaya (Japanese-style pub).
ILCA Guesthouse is on the second and third floor, so many visitors staying at the guesthouse also stop in at the izakaya in addition to residents.
One of the reasons why so many people come is the low prices. Kagoshima's local specialty, shochu, is all 300 yen, and most of the dishes are just 300 yen as well!
The shop has reasonable prices, but everything is truly delicious. This is an izakaya that we wish we could visit every day.
ILCA is supported by the two friendly people pictured above. The shop is managed by Akemi Tanohata (right side of picture), and her daughter Minami-san. When you have a conversation with them, the food will taste even more delicious!
The food and drink menu is in Japanese only, but they will be more than happy to help you if you have questions about the menu or the daily specials.
Our writer will now introduce recommendations for first-time visitors of the local food you can eat at YORU ILCA.
Recommended Kagoshima Cuisine
Satsumaage-Kagoshima's Popular Food!
One food you must try when you are in Kagoshima is satsuma-age.
Satsuma-age is a deep-fried food made with ground fish paste. It has a soft texture and a faintly sweet flavor, making it the perfect appetizer for shochu.
It's a food that's also popular throughout Japan. The inside is filled with vegetables and other ingredients. There are many different kinds of satsuma-age, including spicy flavors.
Our writer has eaten satsuma-age before, but was surprised by how delicious it was the first time he ate it in Kagoshima. It has a sort of wet, sticky kind of texture, and a rich, full-bodied taste. Make sure to try it where it originated—in Kagoshima!
Torisashi - Sample Some Fresh Meat
Torisashi, made with fresh chicken sashimi, is also a Kagoshima specialty. In fact, in Kagoshima torisashi is eaten more frequently than regular fish sashimi.
In the picture above, the dish has breast chicken meat on the left and thigh meat on the right. The breast meat is soft and can be easily bitten off. The thigh meat has a chewy texture, allowing you to thoroughly enjoy the tastiness of the meat.
The chicken meat dipped into the garlic-filled shoyu (soy sauce) is very delicious. Kagoshima shoyu has a sweeter taste compared to the soy sauce in Tokyo and other parts of the country. It pairs very well with torisashi.
This meat passes extremely strict sanitary standards, so you can enjoy eating it without feeling concerned about consuming it.
Kibinago - Goes Great with Alcoholic Beverages!
Kibinago is a small fish that is caught year-round in Kagoshima's coastal waters. It's prepared in many different ways: as sashimi, fried, and also made into tempura.
At YORU ILCA the fish are put on skewers and grilled with salt. Just ten centimeters in length, Kibinago can be eaten just as they are, starting from the head. In just two bites you can consume the whole fish. The slightly bitter flavor pairs well with alcohol.
Kagoshima Sweet Potato Tempura
As you sip on imo shochu, it's also great to eat some Japanese sweet potato tempura.
Japanese sweet potato tempura has a crispy outside and warm inside. When you eat it without any extra seasoning, you can taste its slight sweet flavor.
Sweet Potato Shake - Enjoy the Delicious Flavor and Sweetness of Potatoes
Instead of dessert, we recommend the Japanese sweet potato shake. Although it was originally only a summer drink, it became so popular that now it's sold even later into the year.
The Japanese sweet potato used in this shake is a variety called anno imo. Its natural sweetness is brought out by baking it, and it is very popular all over Japan.
This shake is smooth, creamy, and is made using lots of anno imo! We've been told that some customers come all the way here just for this shake.
Nama Oyakodon - An Amazing Original Dish!
The last dish we want to introduce is nama oyakodon, an original creation from YORU ILCA. This dish consists of a bowl of rice topped with flavored torisashi, a raw egg and other ingredients.
Traditional oyakodon in Japan consists of a bowl of rice topped with chicken ("oya" means parent in Japanese) that's been simmered in a slightly sweet and spicy stock, mixed together with an egg ("ko" means child in Japanese).
At YORU ILCA, however, fresh uncooked chicken meat and raw egg are used. In Japanese, "nama" means uncooked, making this a "nama oyakodon."
Once you have your order, mix the ingredients together well. The torisashi flavored with shoyu mixes with the flavorful tenkasu (*1). The raw egg adds another layer of flavor. This is an indulgent, blissful one-dish meal.
This writer can't forget the taste of this dish and orders it whenever he comes to the izakaya.
*1 tenkasu: are crunchy bits of deep-fried flour batter that are left over after deep-frying other foods. Tenkasu is often used as a topping for udon, soba, and other Japanese dishes.
Find the Perfect Shochu!
An indispensable accompaniment to Kagoshima cuisine is sweet potato-based (imo) shochu.
People in Kagoshima absolutely love shochu! Shochu accompanies mealtime, making lively and animated conversations between families and friends.
Japanese sweet potatoes, the main ingredient in this shochu, are harvested so you can sample a wide variety of potato shochu.
A glass of shochu, usually costs around 500 yen, but here all shochu are priced at only 300 yen. You can enjoy tasting and comparing the different varieties.
There are many ways to drink shochu: straight, with ice, mixed with hot water, and mixed with room-temperature water.
The above picture shows maewari shochu, which is a slightly unusual way to drink shochu. The day before it's served, the shochu is mixed with water and left to stand. When someone orders it, it's placed in an ice-cube filled glass.
It's been said that after it's been left to stand, the shochu becomes smooth and easier to drink. Apparently, in Kagoshima, maewari shochu is served as a kind of omotenashi (hospitality) as if to show the customer that they've been preparing for them since the day before.
This is a Kagoshima-like way of consuming shochu, one that fosters close communication while drinking.
All the Customers Are Your Friends
During our interview all the customers were Japanese, but international visitors staying at Kagoshima ILCA Guesthouse also visit. Despite meeting for the first time, the customers were friendly and conversational.
Akemi-san (on the right side of photo), who manages the shop, is known for her extensive knowledge of Kagoshima. If there's a place you'd like to try going to or a certain kind of food that you want to eat, ask her, and she will give you here suggestions and guidance on how to get there.
Akemi-san only recommends places that she has personally been to and believes are worth visiting. She'll give you advice on plenty of destinations to visit, including little-known areas not found in any guides.
There are also plenty of maps and guidebooks in the shop, so you can plan your trip for the next day.
In fact, our writer discussed this with Akemi-san and everyone about this, as more customers continued to come to the shop.
Everyone pictured above had met for the first time on that day, but as they ate delicious food and drank shochu, they all became friends!
Our writer and the customers chatted the evening away.
Kagoshima is famous for its exquisite cuisine and rich, abundant alcohol. These elements of food and drink help bring people together.
After you finish eating, drinking, and talking, you'll want to come back again. If you want to experience local culture during your Kagoshima trip, we recommend going to YORU ILCA.
YORU ILCA is just fifteen minutes on foot from Tenmonkan in central Kagoshima city. Also, the ferry terminal is only a 5-minute walk away, and is where you can hop on a boat for Kagoshima's symbolic volcano, Sakurajima. You could visit YORU ILCA on the way back after sightseeing at Sakurajima.
In cooperation with YORU ILCA