This charming restaurant/brewery (sometimes referred to as the Mayor’s House) has been in the Ishikawa family for more than 300 years. The family began making sake 135 years ago, using rice grown in the immediate area. A few years later, their great great-grandfather began making beer but it was before its time and did not go over well. Lucky for us, the trend eventually caught on.Once inside, the courtyard and building have an old German flavor. There are two massive 400-year old Zelkova trees standing sentry. In a small store behind the trees, there is a presentation on how sake is made. Ask questions. They have people who can speak English well if you want to know more. After leaving the store, there is a Karu (old storage building) to the right, and an old metal sake pot. The soba restaurant to the left as you wonder through the courtyard has hosted many generals and VIPs as evidenced by many photos. Further into the courtyard is a pavilion housing an antique cooker/pot for making beer. The walls and ceilings depict the making of beer 100 years ago. Just outside the pavilion is a tree more than 600 years old. Across from the pavilion is the beer brewery and lots of tables to eat outside when weather permits. There are two restaurants, Italian and Japanese. Both are inventive, borrowing from West and East.
The Italian side (Fussa no Birugoya) has pizza, pasta, risotto and larger entrees, along with a seasonal menu. They roll their own pasta, and the pizzas often include fresh herbs. Entrees include roasted tuna, sauteed veal and baked freshwater shrimp. The main dishes run about ¥1,400. The appetizer list is extensive.
The Japanese side, Zougura, specializes in buckwheat noodles (soba), served every which way: garnished with duck, with mountain yam, with seaweed, hot, cold or in soup. The menu has a long list of small plates, some of which Americans might eat on a dare: Salted squid guts, fish guts and dried mackerel. But there are plenty, too that would appeal to an American palette, such as braised pork, beef, seafood and many European dishes. And of course, lots of beer. The business gives tours of both the sake factory and the beer brewery. Please arrange ahead of time for English speaking tours. The owner’s two sons (Taro and Yoshiro Ishikawa) speak English. You can call them for more information at 042-553-0100 or Fax 042-553-2008. Hours: 11:30am-10pm (last orders of the evening at 8:30pm).
DIRECTIONS: Take a left out the Fussa Gate. Stay on 16 as it becomes a bridge over the train tracks. Turn right at the traffic light after the bridge. Go straight through three lights. Now begin to watch for a cement block wall (not more than 20 feet long) on your left (there is a Temple directly across the street.) Take the next left turn just after the wall ends (a very narrow street), then take an immediate left (about the length of a car), follow along the street paralleling the brewery/sake complex (white buildings). Take the first right hand turn. Go past one building on the left and park in the lot behind it. Additional parking is past the first parking lot. Continue on to the next street, make a left and look for a “P” parking sign on the left. Telephone: 042-553-0171. GPS: 35.71907, 139.33297. Doreen Garten 2010
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