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Tasty izakaya near Imabari Castle

Looking for a typical Japanese izakaya that serves local specialties near Imabari's main tourist sites? Kurazen, an izakaya in a traditional-style warehouse building (kura) is the perfect solution should you find yourself in this northern Shikoku city for lunch or dinner.

Don't let the shocked looks put you off as you walk in the door. We might have been the first foreigners to ever grace the premises of Kurazen but after the initial surprise wore off, we were greeted warmly and treated no differently than any other customers. The menu is extensive - only in Japanese, but extensive. If you can take the time to puzzle it out, you'll find a host of regional specialties, including many seafood based dishes like taimeshi (rice cooked with sea bream in an iron pot). The menu also features a host of yakitori options, cooked in the Imabari style of pressing together two steel paddles to make the meat cook faster and seal in the juices. This method of grilling allegedly stems from the fact that Imabari residents are an impatient lot and don't like to wait long for their food!

If you don't feel up to the task of translating the many offerings, go for one of the course meals. For dinner I chose the Shimanami set, named after the local Shimanami-kaido, a series of bridges that link the islands of the Kurushima Strait between Shikoku and Honshu. My multi-dish meal featured the day's sashimi, a tasty tofu pocket stuffed with rice and a meatball, the aforementioned taimeshi, a selection of tempura, miso soup and a plate of pickles. A variety of sake is available to complement your meal and if you're just here for drinking, you'll actually find the liquor to be one of the more affordable items on the menu.

Kurazen's main dining area has four sunken booths, a counter that can accommodate about eight diners and a private back room that can be reserved for larger parties. They were more than welcoming to pint-sized diners and provided kid's tableware for our daughter's meal. 

Kurazen is located just a few blocks from Imabari Castle. The restaurant itself is set back a bit from the road but you'll recognize it by its distinctive white-washed exterior, constructed to resemble an old-fashioned rice storehouse.

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Veronika Tomanova 9 years ago
Thanks for your story, Mandy! Enjoyed it.

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