- 2 min read

Hakurakuten in Imabari

A Chinese restaurant serving yaki-buta-tamago-meshi

Yaki-buta-tamago-meshi is a specialty of Imabari featuring seasoned pork (yaki-buta) on a bowl of rice (meshi), topped with two soft fried eggs (tamago), with a sauce (tare) made of fermented ingredients. A friend recommended that I try the dish at either Shigematsu Hanten or Hakurakuten in Imabari. Since I’ve already eaten yaki-buta-tamago-meshi at Shigematsu Hanten and enjoyed it very much, I decided to try it at Hakurakuten too.

Several of the temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage are located in Imabari, and so having spent a pleasant morning looking at a couple of temples, Senyu-ji and Eifuku-ji, I drove into town and found Hakurakuten. It’s tucked away on a backstreet near one of the main roads from Matsuyama. It’s easy to miss. I missed it and had to ask the way, which was easy because everybody in Imabari knows where it is.

I took one of the last two spots in the car park in front of the restaurant. There was a good meaty smell leaking into the car park, which was promising. When I indicated with a single finger that I was on my own, I was directed to sit at the little counter in a small room near kitchen. It smelled of cigarette smoke. I turned down that seat and asked to be seated at a smoke free table. Although I was informed that smoking was permitted at all tables, I found a place among people who didn’t fit the smoking profile.

Hakurakuten has a nice, clean interior with wicker chairs and comfortable benches. Their menu is easy to understand, with lots of photos. It offers a wide range Chinese food in addition to the yaki-buta-tamago-meshi. I chose a lunch set that included yaki-buta-tamago-meshi, fried gyoza, soup and rice. It took a surprisingly long time to arrive, but then the restaurant was full of Sunday lunchtime diners.

The set was very nicely presented on matching plates. But unfortunately, the yaki-buta-tamago-meshi was not all I had hoped for. The seasoned pork was a little on the dry side and not very flavorsome, and the sauce lacked the rich dimensionality suggestive of fermentation that I enjoyed at Shigematsu Hanten. The egg could have done with more pepper too. I enjoyed the fried gyoza well enough, although I’ve had better. All-in-all, it was a very average meal.

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