By Mandy Bartok
While many visitors to Kumamoto Prefecture make the scenic trek out to volcanic Mt Aso, only a handful of them actually stop off in Aso town. Of those few, maybe one or two will find their way down the street from the Aso Shrine to the massive wooden door of Show Restaurant.
That would be their loss.
Show is one of those restaurants that, once stumbled upon, you can’t get out of your head. Attached to the lovely Tsuruya ryokan, the interior of the restaurant is comfortably modern, with a long polished bar and two sizable wooden tables. There’s also a lounge area in the corner of the room for those looking to just kick back with a drink.
If you’ve come this far, however, you absolutely must indulge in the food. Show serves ridiculously affordable set lunches with both local ingredients and some Kyoto specialties. There are a few options offered at the ¥1500 price point, with main dishes ranging from nigiri sushi to miso dengaku, which involves several different flavors of mochi (pounded rice) topped with varying miso pastes (red miso and citrusy yuzu miso, to name two) and grilled to perfection. Main dishes are accompanied by creative sides, like tofu skin and seaweed salad and sweet potato with bonito flakes.
For a mere ¥1000 more, you can practically double your lunch portion. You’ll still be treated to most of the side dishes mentioned above, but add to that tasty bites like daikon dumplings, sea bream carpaccio, Kyoto-made milk tofu, pickled mushrooms, tempura made with local vegetables and rice topped with egg and greens and you’ll be hard-pressed to find room for the included dessert. Sweets change on a regular basis but the dessert I received with my set meal was a huge slice of sponge cake with whipped cream, just sugary enough to offset the bitter cup of green tea that accompanied it.
Show actually changes its name at night, when it operates under the moniker “Mellow Monk”. The food, however, remains much the same with a few additional menu options are available. Regardless of what meal you drop in for, this is one restaurant that’s worth the detour into Aso town.
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