If you want to get to Matsuyama Castle from Matsuyama JR station, you can walk up the main boulevard from the station. But if you’re in a hurry, you’ll probably take one road over to the left, which is a slight short cut. This takes you past Nagasaka Restaurant, and if it’s about lunchtime, you won’t regret popping in.
From the outside, the restaurant looks like an attractive blend of modern simplicity with a Japanese aesthetic. This same style is repeated inside, although certain details create an atmosphere reminiscent of the early 20th century Showa period — the abundance of wood framed glass screens, the hand painted menu over the open kitchen, the recycled wood beams, and the old style open wiring with ceramic insulators. Someone with a certain design sense put this together.
The young staff at Nagaska are very welcoming. When the waiter presented me the lunch menu, he asked if I could read Japanese — he was obviously ready to have a go at explaining it all to me. The menu has a good range of set meals between 700 to 1,000 yen, featuring ingredients that are sourced locally in Ehime. A rare manifestation of regional nationalism drove me to select the Ehime brand ‘imobuta’ potato-fed pork. This comes with a choice of plain white rice, or rice mixed with ten kinds of grain. Always a sucker for an ostensibly healthy option, I chose the latter.
My meal arrived quickly — it was a very generous helping of sliced pork with a light sauce flavoured with ginger and onions, with a salad of cabbage and sundry leaves. There was also miso soup, and preserved konbu seaweed and daikon pickles. The pork has thick rinds of fat in the Japanese style, which might not be to everybody’s taste, but it’s something I’ve learned to enjoy. The rice with many grains was satisfyingly nutty, and it seemed to match the iced tea which had a similarly grainy savour to it. I was pleased that the staff didn’t balk when I asked them to leave the jug on my table — it was a hot day and I was thirsty.
The smoking and nonsmoking seating at Nagasaka is well separated. In the evening, the restaurant serves an izakaya-style menu. There are photos which make things easier for those who don’t read Japanese.
Name in Japanese
なが坂 — Nagasaka