Shirasu-don, or whitebait fish rice bowl is must-eat food when in Yuasa, Wakayama Japan. It is one of the specialties in this town, besides being the birthplace of Japanese soy sauce.
After leaving Shirahama with a heavy heart, we began heading back to Wakayama city. Stopped by Yuasa – the birthplace of Japanese soy sauce for lunch, then visited few tourist destinations in Yuasa which we didn’t manage to cover due to the strong wind and heavy rain from typhoon happened last Saturday. Not to forget, bought an extra bottle of traditionally made shoyu from Kadocho.
Yuasa is in between Wakayama city and Shirahama, about an hour drive from each. It was already 1.30PM by the time we reached. Rushed to our lunch place as fast as we could (*though we really felt like getting to the washroom first) because lunch operation hours is 11AM till 2PM only.
What is Kadoya Shokudou famous for?
Kadoya Shokudou (かどや食堂) is located diagonally opposite to JR Yuasa station, 1 minute walk – super easy access. This humble restaurant is famous for Shirasu-don, or whitebait fish piled over a bed of rice. Some people call Shirasu small sardine fish. It is also one of the specialties food in Yuasa.
Kodaya has a homey dining space. Mostly counter seating, two tatami-style tables for larger group diners at the back. We wanted to sit at the corner, end side of bar counter for easier photography but ended up getting directed by the chef to the center of the restaurant. >_<
But is OK, as we can get closer to the chef and watched him preparing the food. Kodaya has English menu, with very simple English name. We ended up ordering by looking at the food photos though.
How to Eat Shirasu-don?
To fulfill our curiosity on the taste and texture difference of cooked and raw shirasu-don, we ordered a bowl of this each. Yay, food arrived in a jiffy. Look at the abundant amount of shirasu on our rice! Chef is kind enough to guide us on how we should eat it.
To enjoy Shirasu-don, first, add some grind ginger into shoyu sauce. Stir. Pour everything onto the rice bowl. “Decorate” with dried seaweed. Get some fish and eat with rice. Remember not to toss or mix everything together – You will spoil the entire flavours and chef will not feel happy looking at what you have done. Haha. Take some mini sardines and rice, just eat like that will do.
How does Shirasu-don taste like? Is it good?
This mountain of raw, mini fish looked so scary to Summergirl but Summerkid was the other way round. He happily tucked in and nodded for approval, saying “ Walao so nice faster try la!”. Summergirl literally looked at them for like a minute or two before started to tuck in. And the next second — This is sooooooooo good!
Raw shirasu was so fresh, zero odd smell even if you eat on its own. It is slimy, subtle chewiness. Jelly like but not as bouncy. Excellent with the warmth, fluffy Japanese white rice, with flavours amplified by Yuasa very own soy sauce. Ginger does the magic too with its sharp spiciness. Having tasted few ginger in Wakayama, we personally felt that Japan ginger is a little different from those we eat in Malaysia. Theirs have a fresher taste, more pure, and spiciness is pronounced even just a tiny bit.
For the cooked shirasu, we initially expect it would taste better than the raw one but we are wrong. Weenjoyed the raw version more! But it is equally delicious, just less WOW factor. Since it is cooked, it delivers better fish natural sweetness, more meaty texture.
Is Shirasu-don Expensive? Is it worth trying?
Our total bill came to about 2000yen. Can’t remember the exact price as we misplaced the receipt. It is not cheap but totally worth it. There are other shops here famous for their Shirasu-don too like Umihiko海ひこnearby. Our experience at Kadoya was satisfying. Great food, polite and friendly owner. He even suggested us where to go after our lunch, and gave us Yuasa tourist walking map in English. We strongly recommend you to check out Kadoya Shokudou for Shirasu-don whenever you are in Yuasa, Wakayama. One of the best meals we had for our Japan trip this time.
Kadoya Shokudo かどや食堂
1109-1 Yuasa, Yuasa Town
Open Hours: Lunch 11AM – 2PM
Dinner: 5PM – 9PM
English Menu: Yes
Access: 1 minute walk from JR Yuasa Station