Saturday, 14 December 2013

Sumptuous Bamboo Shoot Cuisine At Takenoko

"Evergreen bamboo
Shoots cut down and thinly sliced
Boiled, to feast upon"

A Japanese haiku
to describe the bamboo shoot



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There is a huge wooden carving of bamboo shoots in front of the restaurant.

The third tour of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors took us to Ōtaki (大多喜町) town, located in Isumi district of Chiba prefecture. The town is located right in the middle of the Bōsō Peninsular and 70% of the town is covered with forest, making it a prefect gateway escape from Tokyo to enjoy the richness of nature here. After our tour to Yoro Keikoku, it was lunch time, which I would say more often than not, the main highlight of each tour because we will be brought to taste the local specialties of each locations we visit.

This time, we dined at a restaurant - Takenoko, which specialises in Ōtaki's famous bamboo shoots or takenoko. ​The water running through the Bōsō mountains are clean and that is the main reason good grades of bamboo shots are found in this area. The harvesting season of bamboo shoots is from late April to May, where visitors get the chance to personally try and harvest the bamboo shoots by themselves.

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A sign put up at the entrance door, to thank the customers for their patronage each time.
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The interior of the restaurant in the first floor.

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The Chiba Kun Ambassadors however, had our lunch on the second floor, in this beautifully furnished Japanese style washitsu.

Bamboo shoots as food have been part of the Asian diet for centuries, and are fast becoming popular in Western meals. The shoots are usually boiled before consumption because they are poisonous. The raw shoots contain hydrocyanic acid, and are very toxic. Peeling and boiling for five minutes will steam off the acid. Bamboo shoots do not have much nutritional value (most of the 'healthy' stuff is boiled off with the toxins), but they are yummy in stir-frys.

For the lunch, basically everything served in the menu was based on bamboo shoots, from pickled bamboo shoots, bamboo shoot rice, bamboo shoots in miso soup, and many more. It was my first time having bamboo shoot in miso soup and I gotta say it tasted really good. We were lucky that we got to request for seconds for the delicious bamboo shoots rice and also the bamboo shoots miso soup.

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Our sumptuous takenoko lunch set.

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Starters, that includes pickled bamboo shoots and radish, tamagoyaki (sweetened Japanese omelette), mountain vegetables, and Chiba's famous peanuts in miso.

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Nimono (煮物), consisting of bamboo shoots, carrots, shiitake mushroom.

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Bamboo shoot pickles in vinegar.

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Bamboo shoot rice, topped with toasted sesame seeds.

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Wild vegetables tenpura and deep-fried takenoko karaage.

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Home made kiwi-flavoured yōkan.

Besides that, Ōtaki is also popular for its inoshishi-don (イノシシ丼) or wild boar don, and also buta-nabe (豚 鍋) or pork steamboat. The wild boars are commonly known to be an annoying animal that destroys the farm field, and that is one of the reason they are caught to be used in the local delicacies by the local villagers.

At Takenoko, besides the signature takenoko set, there are also wild boar stew and simmered miso deer meat among the other dishes in the menu. All of these dishes uses only the freshest ingredients found in the deep mountains of Ōtaki and it is certain satisfy anyone who wishes to try on the local meals in this humble little town.

|| INFORMATION ||
Kyodoryori Takenoko (郷土料理 たけのこ)
Opening hours: 11:00 - 22:00 (reservation required, except between the period of March 15 - May 15)
Tel: 0470-84-0368
Parking: Available 
Address
: 181-2, Kurohara, Otaki-machi, Isumi-gun, Chiba Prefecture, 298-0255, Japan. 

Website:
http://otaki-takenoko.main.jp/ (Japanese only)

Access: Train: From Ohara station (大原駅), take the Isumi Railway (いすみ鉄道) to Fusamoto station (総元駅) (approximately 45 minutes, 640yen), and the restaurant is 175 meters away.

Takean (竹庵)

Opening hours
: 10:00 - 21:00  
Closed days
: None
Seating
: 7 tables (4 people) and an open terrace that fits 10 people.

Tel: 
0470-80-1077
Parking
: Available (50 spots) 
Address
: 967, Horinouchi, Otaki-machi, Isumi-gun, Chiba Prefecture, 298-0224, Japan. 

Website:
 http://otaki-takenoko.main.jp/ (Japanese only)
Access
: Train: From Ohara station (大原駅), take the Isumi Railway (いすみ鉄道) to Koyamatsu station (小谷松) (approximately 40 minutes, 580yen), and the restaurant is 1,158 meters away.

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