Thursday, August 9, 2018

梅本商店 (Umemoto Shoten in Kyoto)

猪肉・鹿肉 梅本商店

I have no idea how I heard about this place. Maybe it was on TV. Maybe someone blogged about it. Maybe I just drove by it randomly. The only thing that I do remember is that I tried to come in May of 2017, during Japan's national Golden Week holiday. They were closed.

Well, I came back.

Taking the idea of a shack to another level. Can you believe that this is a restaurant?

I took care to inspect the place, and despite the clutter of boxes and magazines, it wasn't terribly dirty. It wasn't terribly clean either, but let's not dwell on that.

Umemoto's master is a hunter. Just up the road is the Soraku District (相楽郡). Mountains teeming with game. Boar and deer are common, and the local farmers would like nothing better than for hunters to thin the herds.

When I walked in, one table was occupied by four drunk old men. The other by the teenage daughter (granddaughter?) of the master. She sat working on homework. He barked at her to get up and make room for the customer. She wasn't happy about it. Everyone was staring at me.

Atmosphere on point; I love it.

Once the other customers realized that I could have a discussion with them in their own language, the fun started. They offered up some of their hot pot. Tough boar meat cooked way too long, simmering in a fantastic dashi broth. The master brought me a free glass of local sake.

Ramen here is only 450 yen, and covered in flash-fried boar slices and green onion. I'm not going to lie, it was a bit too much meat for me. Boar tends to be tough, with equally tough fat connected to every bite.

At one point I looked like I was giving up, and the alpha drunk male next to me gave me the stink eye.

"You'd better finish it all."

I powered through.

Would I come back?

You bet.