Sometimes some of the best finds have been right before your eyes the whole time, and this is certainly the case with Uonuma no Hatake. This little restaurant has been in Echigo Yuzawa Station for the last couple of years and I have passed it on countless occasions. Following a recent glowing recommendation from a friend I dropped in for their viking lunch and was blown away by how good it was.
Their specialty is in their name, "The fields of Uonuma" - local rice and vegetables grown nearby. They have a main menu of rice bowls with different mains on top. I’m sure they are all fantastic but my meal was the eat-as-much-as-you-like lunch which is served daily from eleven until two. If you happen to be around for this it comes highly recommended - quality and quantity.
For eight hundred yen you get a bowl of the local koshihikari rice (the day we went you could get the extra large size as a free upgrade - more on this later.) Accompanying that is a bowl of miso soup and then they have a host of different accompaniments from which you can help yourself until you are full. The range is amazing. We counted 22 different dishes. Most of them look delicious, though some you may not recognize and the labels are only in Japanese. You can’t go wrong though, so dive in and fill your tray with goodies. Go slow is my advice. There is plenty to try. We went for the free upgrade of large-sized rice thinking it was a no-brainer. With all the delicious accompaniments on offer it was a struggle to finish it and the normal size would have sufficed.
The dishes on offer are all made from local ingredients with the bias heavily toward vegetables. There are many traditional countryside staples and everything is fresh and tasty. I can’t remember everything that I piled onto my tray but some dishes deserving an honorable mention include the meat and potato stew, the pickled radish and carrot, tempura vegetables, stewed mushrooms, and the fried dried tofu. The tray holds six different dishes at a time (if you keep them separate) and with 22 options it is very difficult to narrow down, especially when you eat something so good that you want to get seconds - truly spoiled for choice.
At that price it is a bargain and a chance to sample some amazing local dishes that really capture the flavors of the region.