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Delicious eel dishes near Hamamatsu

When I told people I was planning a trip to the Hamamatsu area, the one thing I was repeatedly told was that I'd have to try the eel. Then while I was there, I went out into the countryside to visit the Akino Fuku Art Museum, and arriving around lunchtime, I saw a big sign that said うなぎ, Japanese for 'eel'. With my awesome powers of deduction I decided that if I followed it, I could find a restaurant serving eel dishes; my suspicions were confirmed when I duly found Noryotei a couple of minutes up the road.

It's beautifully situated, overlooking a shallow river with low forested hills around, and I made sure to get a table at the window so I could admire the view. The interior is very mellow and understated, with lots of wood-effect fittings and a couple of raised areas with tatami floors. The friendly staff (who speak only Japanese) wear lime green outfits, loose pants and jackets with a traditional cut, which are cheery and colourful but still easy on the eye. The relaxed atmosphere is completed by soft, music-box background music, pleasant but unintrusive.

For my lunch I chose the medium-sized unadon set (eel on rice) for ¥2376, which came in beautiful laquered tableware with a small cup of soup and a plate of pickles. The eel meat was tender and tasty, and the juices had soaked through into the rice, lending it some extra flavour too. The pickles were a delight, nicely offsetting the unadon with their crunch and tanginess, and I'd have really liked there to have been more of them. For dessert I had some vanilla ice cream for ¥216, a nice way to round off my meal.

The menu is all only in Japanese, but there are some pictures to help, and a display case outside the entrance with plastic models of many of the dishes. Other unagidon sets cost ¥1620, ¥2808 or ¥4320, while sets other than eel include sashimi (sliced raw fish) or fried shrimps for ¥2376, pork cutlet or pork saute for ¥1620. Salads range from ¥540 to ¥864, soft drinks or coffee from ¥​216 to ¥​324 (yes, I was entertained by the to-the-yen exactness of the prices), beer from ¥216 to ¥864.

It's about half an hour on the Enshu train line from Shin-Hamamatsu station to Nishikajima, then about ten minutes' walk from the station to the restaurant. If you'd like to sample some of the eel cuisine for which the area is known, then Noryotei allows you to do so in a relaxing setting, surrounded by nature.

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