Omishima Island sits in the middle of the beautiful Seto Inland Sea between Ehime and Hiroshima prefectures. It’s the Mediterranean of Japan, and consequently, there’s very good seafood to be enjoyed on Omishima. There are many seafood restaurants on the island, but some of them are so small and intensely popular that it can be very hard to get in at a weekend lunchtime, even if you’re prepared to wait an hour or two.
Fortunately, Setouchi Chashitsu Restaurant is very spacious, with room to seat a lot of people. Located very close to the centrally located Oyamazumi Shrine, the restaurant is a popular stop for tour buses, and it has a commensurately large car park. But don’t let the fact that tour buses stop there put you off—it offers good food in a pleasant atmosphere.
I went there in the middle of August when the sun beat down and the island shimmered in the heat. Just like the European Mediterranean, the cicadas chirped incessantly, and the warm air carried the scent of pine trees. And wonderful as that can be, it’s nice to take a break in some air-conditioned comfort.
In addition to lunch sets featuring sashimi and the Ehime specialty tai meshi (rice cooked with sea bream), Setouchi Chashitsu offers a selection of unusual fish-themed ramen. The basic type is shoyu ramen with a soy sauce based broth, with either chunks of sea bream tempura, asari shellfish, or jakoten katsu. Since I was planning what I thought might be a strenuous hike up to the Irihi Falls next, I chose the ramen with the rather calorific jakoten katsu, which is a patty of deep fried fish paste, with a further coating of fried batter. It arrived promptly, served in an attractive bowl. The batter of course becomes soaked in the broth and mingles pleasantly with the noodles. The jakoten itself contains all parts of the fish including the bones, and so it has a very rough texture and a frankly nutritious taste. The fish and soy flavours were balanced with a little grated daikon radish, and two thin slices of lemon. I haven’t had ramen quite like this anywhere else, but it seems like a worthwhile extension of the ramen concept.
As I paid up, I got a nice “Thank you” in English from the young waiter. Before I left, I ambled into the well-stocked souvenir shop next door and sampled some rather delightful lemon tea which is offered as a representative local product.
Name in Japanese:
- せとうち茶屋 大三島 seto-uchi chashitsu ōmishima Setouchi Chashitsu Omishima