For a taste of something fresh and Italian-inspired, head for the tiny restaurant of La Ceiba, tucked away in the shopping arcades of central Hagi.
La Ceiba is open for lunch every day but Sunday, and the midday meal is when you'll find the best deals. While you can order a la carte, the set lunches provide excellent value for money. There are several options to choose from, ranging from a meat-based option, a fish-based option and an entirely vegetarian based meal. There is also a pasta choice, which usually mixes traditional Japanese ingredients (like scallops) with a more typically Italian sauce (like pesto or cream sauce).
The sets come with multiple course . You'll start with a salad or vegetable based appetizer plate (look for seasonal highlights, like pumpkin, lotus root or rape blossom shoots). You also get a soup, the on the day we went, it arrived after the main course. The main portions are generous and come with the choice of bread or rice. The bread is served with an herbed butter, which made me regret my choice of rice! Typically, the set meals don't come with dessert but you'll want to add on one of the many homemade sweet treats, like strawberry cheesecake or chocolate cake. (As an alternative, there is a basket of flourless, nut-based cookies made by local bakers and packaged for takeaway in a basket by the register. Grab one for the road.)
La Ceiba has the usual parade of drinks on offer (coffee and a variety of teas), but it's worth spending the extra 400 yen to try the fresh ginger ale.
La Ceiba's dining room is rather cozy, with only four main tables and a bar that seats four in front of the chef. In good weather, however, the restaurant opens up its side terrace, where you can spread out while enjoying your meal. (If you're worried about turning up to a full eatery - and they actually turned multiple people away while we were there - you are welcome to call in advance and have them reserve a table for you.)
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