Gourmet Feature 01Deliciousness Nurtured by Renowned Water
Exquisite Deliciousness Brought Forth by Water of Life
Most of the Ishizuchi Mountain Range is covered with deep forests and is off limits for people to enter. There, the blessings of rain that falls from the heavens are received by the trees in the forests and seep deep into the earth. The clear, pure water turn into spring water and flowing river to sustain our lives. The well-known water that flows out of spouting points called uchinuki is an invaluable gift from the natural environment of the Mountain Range. This natural, cool and clear water is an essential part of handmade soba making and sake brewing. Its ability to bring out and deepen the full flavors of buckwheat and saké rice awakens in us the majestic image of Mount Ishizuchi.
The Osaka-born owner visited Saijo City, his wife’s hometown, and encountered the famous uchinuki and beautiful Mount Ishizuchi and thought, “I want to make soba by hand using this water while gazing at this mountain.” With this goal in mind, he trained in Yamanashi Prefecture and eventually opened his own soba restaurant.
He slowly and carefully grinds the buckwheat with millstones and combines the flour with uchinuki water to create hand-cut soba noodles that are either nihachi (“two-eight,” 20% wheat flour and 80% buckwheat flour) or juwari (“ten parts,”100% buckwheat flour). The famous water also supports the flavor of the dashi broth made with natural ingredients. The shop name “Saijo-soba” expresses the owner’s aspiration “to make soba that can only be experienced in this region.”
The soup base called kaeshi, cooked slowly over three weeks, has a rich yet clean flavor. Menu items to be enjoyed include not just the standards like zaru (cold soba noodles with dipping sauce) and tempura soba, but also seasonal dishes made with vegetables grown in Saijo City using uchinuki water such as tomatoes and Kinukawa-nasu eggplants.
A restaurant that offers 100% buckwheat soba, located at the foothills of the Omogo-sankei Mountain Range. The soba maker says, “Over half of soba noodles is made up of water, so it is not an exaggeration to say that the taste of soba is determined by the water.” As such, the soba here is made only with natural water from the mountains. The juwari soba, which contains no filler ingredients, has an even stronger soba flavor. The buckwheat-and-water-only taste is simple yet rich and layered. The restaurant is a renovation of an old Japanese-style house and is full of ambiance that invites customers to settle down and relax.
The zaru is recommended if you wish to enjoy a firm soba texture. It goes well with tempura made with local, highland-grown vegetables. Also available are kake that is enjoyed with a warm dipping sauce, and kama-age (warm soba served with a cold dipping sauce), whose robust flavor and distinctive texture make it perfect for soba aficionados.
Uchinuki, the underground water that is sourced from the Ishizuchi Mountain Range, stays approximately the same temperature year-round. Ishizuchi-shuzo brewery, a long-standing sake brewer founded in 1920 in Saijo City near the Ishizuchi Mountain Range, uses this uchinuki water to brew sake which has a crisp, dry flavor. In the winter—the sake-making season—northern winds blow down from the holy mountain of Ishizuchi. Saijo City’s Shuso-heiya plains where the brewery is located is Shikoku’s leading grain-growing region. By having such advantageous conditions of this land on its side, the brewery stands firm on its intention of “making sake for customers who love Ishizuchi.”
Brewed in this area that is highly suitable for sake-making are junmai and junmai-ginjo sakes that express the essence of Ishizuchi and they “flourish in meals.” The secret to their popularity is their great compatibility with various foods.
KOCHI ICE Baiten Shop
At this exceptional location with an expansive panoramic view of the clear blue Niyodo-gawa river known as “Niyodo blue,” enjoy a rich soft-serve ice cream that contains ample amounts of eggs from Tosa Jiro. Tosa Jiro is a brand-name free-range chicken grown in Kochi Prefecture’s rich natural environment. While its meat first gained acclaim for its deliciousness, eventually, the eggs also became popular and are now a valued ingredient in various confectionaries. The deliciousness (full umami) of the entire egg is used to make this treat par excellence.