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Ajikobo Hanahenro Restaurant

Serving fish fresh from the Inland Sea

If you travel northwards from Matsuyama along the coast, you come to the Michi no Eki or Road Station of Fuwari. Road Stations are government-designated rest areas found along roads and highways in Japan. Besides providing places for travelers to rest, they’re also intended to promote local tourism and trade. Shops sell local produce, snacks, souvenirs, and other goods. The Road Station itself has a restaurant, Ajikobo Hanahenro, which serves hearty, fish-themed fare.

Hanahenro has a wide choice of set meals and single item offerings. On a recent visit, I had the set with octopus tempura salad and chirimen don. This a very agreeable combination of succulent octopus in crispy tempura on a fresh salad, with a piquant soy-based dressing. This is accompanied by a bowl of rice topped with lots of juvenile fish called chirimen, and two varieties of salted vegetables, spinach and pungent takana or leaf mustard. The chirimen don comes with a wooden spoon, and the topping is meant to be mixed into the rice with a dash of soy sauce. The resulting mixture of highly flavored vegetables and mild tasting fish is very wholesome indeed. There’s a side serving of clear soup, vinegared vegetables, and daikon radish pickles. This is a combination of dishes I haven’t encountered anywhere else, and while the other menu items are very tempting, I generally find the siren song of the octopus tempura irresistible. I once had the tai meshi, the white meat of the sea bream cooked with rice, and that was very good too. The octopus set is 900 yen and the tai meshi is 1,200 yen.

The restaurant is spacious with a comfortable wooden interior. Unusual for restaurants in Japan, it’s non-smoking throughout, so you can enjoy your meal without fear that the person next to you will do their best to spoil it. The service is generally very quick, so you don’t have to wait long before your meal arrives.  

Since the purpose of Road Stations is to provide a relaxing stop for motorists, Hanahenro also offers a selection of healthy Japanese desserts in the afternoon. To the Western palate accustomed to very sweet foods, these desserts may not even qualify as such, but once you’ve acquired a taste for them, they can be hard to pass up come three in the afternoon.

You can park for as long as you want in the free car park at Fuwari, and combine your meal with some leisurely souvenir or food shopping, or even a visit to the beach across the road.

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Anonymous 12 years ago
Tempura Takuyaki...! Never had it before, and I've eaten Tako in lots of different ways. Sounds really good. Definitely will put this on my must-visit places in Shikoku.

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