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Nagasaki shippoku: is Kagetsu all that?

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  • Simon Apr 9, 2007 05:39 PM
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Hi...

I'll most likely be in Nagasaki in a couple weeks and am looking forward to trying a shippoku feast...all the guidebooks mention Kagetsu as being ancient, elegant, delicious, etc...(as well as very expensive)...

i'm curious if Kagetsu lives up to its rep, or is there an even more more chowish place to try to shippoku?...(would hate to drop a small fortune there and find it it's a teflon tourist trap or something)...

(Eric Eto and Silverjay: i figure at least one of you has been there...thoughts?)

Thanks!

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  1. I don't know the place you mention, but I did want to say that having asked many Japanese over the years about various places (in order to avoid a poor experience while dining or sightseeing) not a single person (that I've spoken to) was familiar with the concept of a "tourist trap." Seriously. With that knowledge alone, I'd give the place a wholehearted try.

    5 Replies
    1. re: tokyorosa

      Well the expression "tourist trap" might not ring a bell, but there are certainly many restaurants throughout Japan that are famous (or at least in a famous location), of mediocre to average quality, overpriced (relative to quality), and filled almost exclusively with people from out of town and special-celebration diners. One example: most of Yokohama Chinatown.

      1. re: Robb S

        Yes, Yokohama is a destination spot for Japanese tourists who want Chinese--but I've never had truly bad Chinese food there and my companions were always satisfied and never felt ripped off by the experience (as one does in a tourist trap). I mean, it's Chinatown, right? Not China...

        1. re: tokyorosa

          I guess I have a broader definition of tourist trap: mediocre and overpriced, rather than "truly bad." Places that are very very bad are less likely to be included in every single guidebook.

          The last time I went to Yokohama Chinatown, my dining companions and I were all handed menus with NO PRICES listed. I think even your easy-going friends might get a little suspicious at that point....

          1. re: tokyorosa

            I'm in total agreement with Robb on Chinatown, Yokohama. It's full of tourist traps and there's plenty of lousy Chinese food to be had there as well. In general, Japan is rife with tourist traps. The kitsch level can range from subtle to obvious, but mediocre dining abounds and you should vette options thoroughly if you want good meals walking off the street.

            1. re: Silverjay

              Maybe I'm dining with companions who, in America, would be satisfied with a grand dinner at Appleby's or Chili's--but I find that, even if a place in Yokohama sets off my American "tourist trap" alarms, my friends are not so quick to judge but rather enjoy the meal and appreciate it for what it is.

      2. I've only had shippoku a couple of times, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. Maybe I didn't go to the right places, or maybe I just didn't appreciate the concept. It was just a big tray heaped with a mishmash of Japanese and Japanified Chinese- and Portuguese-inspired foods, none of them very noteworthy on their own.

        For what it's worth, Kagetsu isn't rated very well on the often-reliable Asku.com restaurant ratings site: (http://www.asku.com/RV/010R/?_item_id... ).

        Fukiro (http://rp.gnavi.co.jp/sb/3009632/ ) was the highest rated, although they may not have an English menu.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robb S

          thanks!...i forwarded the links to my gf to decipher...

        2. Oh, and while you're in town you should definitely try local dishes like sara-udon and champon - two noodle dishes that are specialties of Nagasaki. And also Kyushu specialties like tonkotsu (the pork stew, not tonkotsu ramen), kibinago (a kind of sardine), and satsuma-age (fried fishcakes).

          1. Sorry Simon, I've never been down there. But I agree with checking AskU and also having your girlfriend sift through personal food blogs in Japanese- which I find are good research tools.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Silverjay

              thanks...in any case, i'll try some shippoku and report back!...

              1. re: Simon

                Simon, if you eat pork, Nagasaki is famous for buta no kaku ni, = braised pork belly.. If you enjoy it, and can find out any secrets to its preparation, they would be appreciated in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/385607

                Nagasaki is a marvelous town, perhaps my favorite in Japan. Seek out those places, and those dishes, which best display that early tenuous dalliance between Japan and the West.

                1. re: FoodFuser

                  Thanks!...i love pork so i shall add the buta no kaku ni to my list...i'll also be in Nagoya, Fukuoka, and possibly either Kumamoto or Kagoshima on this trip...all new cities for me, as i've only been to Tokyo/Osaka/Nara/Kyoko before...

                  1. re: Simon

                    If you are in Fukuoka, then you can find places that together will offer all the famous dishes of Kyushu.

                    Kumamoto's meibutsu is karaashi-renkon, a lotus root stuffed with mustard, miso, and (sometimes) egg yolks, lightly deep fried then sliced for presentation. Fukuoka has it. But a trip to Kumamoto's SuiZenJi gardens, and Kumamoto Castle, is a wonderful trip, and a beautiful train ride from Fukuoka.

                    For Kagoshima, you move into the land of the sweet potato, and Okinawan influences that have moved northward. Murasaki-imo is one dish, and for imbibement, sweet potato shochu cut with hot water. Again, Fukuoka, the cultural portal of Kyushu, has both.

                    I'm inferring that your gf reads Japanese; if so, you are set for choosing restaurants from local web reviews. In Nagasaki, for butakakuni, look for a restaurant that demands/suggests a reservation 2-3 days ahead for the kakuni, as it requires 2 or more days prep. Those resto's with that requirement may well offer the finest example of this pork dish The pork-belly enthusiasts on the home cooking board will give you kudos if you're able to cajole any preparation sequences and secrets that go on during those mysterious 2 days.

                    While in Fukuoka, don't miss the simple lunch of "Hakata-Ramen", one of the classic ramens of Japan. Pork broth based. It's everywhere in the Big F, but the most traditional ambiance is found in the pushcart yatai's that are scattered along the sidewalks of the river areas downtown.

                    Have fun.

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      Awesome...my gf made a reservation for us at Kagetsu and from what i understand, the butakakuni is usually one of the shippoku courses...and they are definitely a reserve-in-advance place, so should be good...

                      That karaashi-renkon sounds yummy too, so i'll be on the lookout for it either in Fukuoka or Kumamoto...and i'm very psyched for the yatai's: we'll be arriving in Fukuoka after a fairly long train trip from her parents home outside Nagoya, so i'm looking forward to guzzling shochu and eating pork-ramen that night after checking into a hotel (Kashima Honkan, which i believe is convenient to the yatai area)...

                      Thanks again for the suggestions