“Manma and Cafe Yukimatsuri” is a new concept diner in the Cross 10 Road Station in Tokamachi. A Michi-no-Eki is not where you would expect to find concept dining but it is proving a bit of a winner to local foodies.
The owners (who all run local ryokan) are trying to bring healthy, seasonal, home-cooked food to a stylish restaurant environment, while keeping it fast and cheap. That all sounds pretty demanding but after an awesome lunch we reckon there were ticks in all the right boxes.
Organic, local ingredients are major factors in the cuisine and being in Tokamachi they are somewhat spoilt for choice - Tsunan pork just down the road, koshihikari rice in the next valley, an abundance of mountain vegetables and small-holders delivering perfectly ripe produce to their door. It is very Japanese, with beautiful, colorful presentation but letting simple flavors do the work. The menu is not extensive, but everything they do is done well. We went for lunch, choosing a Tsunan Pork hamburg steak and a locally raised fried chicken steak. Both came with tasty sauce and a selection of in-season vegetables. The rice and soup were both “eat as much as you like”. The rice was available in wholemeal or white varieties, and the soup came in soy sauce/vegetable, or radish/fish/vegetable. Both of the soups were delicious with plenty of big chunks in them, and refills were a must. Ice cold water or wheat tea were plentiful refreshments too. The lunch with free rice/soup refills is a great system as it can be a light snack or a big feed, depending on your appetite, and with a meal coming in under the 1000 yen mark, it is great value too.
The cafe has a relaxed atmosphere. It is clean, bright and simple, the perfect setting for similar food. Even the music and artwork on the wall all seem to blend in with the overall feel.
The cafe is not the only taste of the local area in the Cross 10 Road Station. There are several little boutiques specializing in kimono material, one of Tokamachi’s famous products, and also selling some great gift ideas such as belts or credit card holders with kimono material trim. A wander around these and a great meal makes for a fun little interlude to a journey.