The open season of wild boar hunting in Japan comes after mid-November. It is also the prime time for Botan-Nabe hot pot, which is made of fresh boar meat. Among the wonderful places for Botan-Nabe hot pot throughout Japan, Mountain Tanbasasayama Area in Hyogo prefecture was known as the birthplace of Botan-Nabe hot pot. You can find many hot pot restaurants here. Today, we will introduce you to, Iwaya, a famous restaurant in a remote, solitary house. It’s a fantastic place where you will feel as if you are back in the countryside.
Attractive building with Thatched Roof, express the old day’s atmosphere perfectly
Iwaya is located in the depth of mountains far from center of Sasayama City.
With a tasteful thatched roof, the appearance of Japanese hometown in the good old days is so attractive. From the entrance, youcan hear the sound of a traditional Japanese water wheel. And the side window is covered by Hoshigaki (hanging dried persimmons); you could even find a stuffed (’mounted’ is better) boar there! All these bring you increasing excitement before entering the house.
Warmth of the Irori
Once you are inside, you’ll see Irori are arranged in rows on the flooring. The Botan-Nabe hot pot will be served here. Around the Irori, there is already Kuro Edamame (young black soybeans in pods) in plates as appetizer. Because black soybeans are famous products of MountainTanbasasayama, the Kuro Edamame here is superb as well. It is really difficult to resist the delicious taste of the fleshy, sweet Kuro Edamame.
Do you feel a little chilly? Don’t worry about that. The red heated charcoals will make the temperature in the house soon become comfortable enough after lighting the Irori. In fact, you could even enjoy Botan-Nabe hot pot here on a severe winter day here. The restaurants also have chairs for people who feel uncomfortable with a traditional sitting posture.
The beauty of Botan-Nabe hot pot
Now, the pot contains Miso(Soybean paste)-based Japanese soup stock is placed on the fire. When the water is boiling, fresh boar meat is put into the pot. Before that, let’s have a look at the boar meat served on the plate. The hot pot was named because the boar meat in the plate looks like a Peony Flower. Both the shape and the color make it simply a work of art.
The pot begins with putting special local products of Mountain Tanbosasayama, a sticky, sweet yam into the water. And then put the fresh boar meat into the pot. After boiling a moment, you can put some Chinese cabbage, Shiitake mushroom and other vegetables into it. The food will be cooked after another while. Although after the first sight of the Miso in the pot, someone may think it is thick soups that will make people feel thirsty; the boar meat is actually with well-seasoned taste. As the main material, it has a delicate, soft mouth feel. Besides, boar meat here doesn’t have some distinct smells. The more chewing the more fragrant, it is really an addictive delicacy. If you want to change the taste of the meat, there is also a seasoning called Kona-Sanshou(Powder Japanese Pepper)which will give the meat a mild hot flavor.
By the way, whether the boar meat delicious or not depends on the cutting skills. Since Iwaya’s cutting skills has won high praise, the boar meat hot pot here is so delicious.
Finale is exquisite Rice with half-cooked egg
The standard dish after hot pot is Zousui (rice porridge mixed with hot pot soup). How delicious will the Zousui be if we mix it with that tasty soup! The staffs give us some advice on how to cook delicious Zousui.
First, put a raw egg into the hot pot, and then close the lid. Wait 3 minutes, open and transfer the egg to the freshly prepared rice without breaking it. After that, you can add the soup according to your preferences and then mixed the egg with the rice. I’m sure that the combination of half-cooked egg and delicious soup will impress you deeply.
In addition, although not listed in the menu, Iwaya also provides Udon(Japanese noodles), with which you can make a tasty Misonikomi Udon(Udon boiled with Miso-soup) by mixing it with the hot pot soup.
Salt-Grilled Amago fish (Oncorhynchus masou ishikawae) is exquisite
In Iwaya, it’s easy to focus too much on Botan-Nabe hot pot. In fact, there is another signature dish in this restaurant. It’s Salt-Grilled Amago fish. Being skewered alive, the fish will still shake its body and when put it near to Irori, it shakes more strenuously. Although it may seem a little cruel, the fish burnt alive has a delicate, softmouth feel. It’s really fragrant and delicious. If you order Salt-Grilled Amago fish at the beginning of the meal, it will be cooked just when the Botan-Nabe hot pot is finished.
Feel free to come just like a friend’s home in countryside
Not only the location but also the atmosphere, proprietress with apron give you the feelings of having a good time in a friend’s home. The prime time for boar meat is from mid-November to mid-March. Although frozen meat is also good, we strongly suggest you to have delicious fresh boar meat! Would you like to sit around an Irori and have a Botan-Nabe hot pot on a winter day?
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