There is no shortage of restaurants anywhere in Miyazaki selling reasonable and filling bowls of ramen or plates of chicken nanban, the local version of deep fried chicken that is marinated in a sweet and sour sauce. While shokudo (cafeteria-style) fare is often quite tasty, you should not let its ubiquity deprive you of some of the finer aspects of the local cuisine, even if you are out, say, for a day swimming, surfing, or relaxing at the Aoshima Beach resort just 30 minutes from downtown Miyazaki. Despite Aoshima's fun-loving and informal façade, there are some exquisite meals waiting to be sampled, and one of the best places to discover this other aspect of Miyazaki cuisine is at the Japanese restaurant at the Aoshima Palm Beach Hotel.
Located on the second floor of this first class hotel adjoining the family-oriented Kodomo no Kuni park, the Hinata Shizuku (日向雫) restaurant offers delicious, seafood and seasonable vegetables in a romantic setting overlooking the lovely Hyuga-Nada coastline. On a recent afternoon, having explored nearby Aoshima Shrine, and hungry after hiking along the beach, I was pleasantly surprised to come across this gem of a restaurant. What surprised me was the variety of subtle flavors and textures in a beautifully arranged multi-course kaiseki lunch that cost only 1500 yen, a fraction of what one would expect to pay at a resort hotel in Tokyo for a meal of comparable quality, one that would likely not be nearly as good!
One dish after another followed, from fresh, locally sourced sashimi and deep-fried and gently simmered fish, to various vegetables in delicate sauces. One of my favorites was the dark brown local seaweed in vinegar known as mozuku. Another dish was indescribably light and flavorful, having the consistency of tofu in a beautiful green soup: its main ingredient, according to the waitress, was a puree of green peas. As I was finishing my course, which also included a generous helping of succulent pork simmered right at my table, a small desert and the drink of my choice, I overheard a group of Japanese tourists complimenting the waitress on the very same dish. Clearly, the food made an impression on the other diners as well. The wait staff made a uniformly good impression, being attentive, knowledgeable and friendly.
There are a number of dishes available at lunchtime from 1500 yen and up, and there is also a helpful Japanese menu featuring the most popular courses. Undoubtedly you will find even greater variety in the evening, but judging by the food I sampled at lunch while enjoying a romantic view of the Hyuga-Nada sea, this is a restaurant that is guaranteed to please whether you come for lunch or dinner. I also hope to come back in the near future and sample the dishes available at the hotel’s other restaurants. Judging by the high standards of Hinata Shizuku, I am fairly confident these restaurants will not disappoint.