Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Chicken Shack

Possibly since our first day in Iwakuni, people have been mentioning The Chicken Shack to us. To me, the restaurant name evokes memories of trying to find a safe place to use the bathroom in Detroit. Any restaurant that brags about catering your party for $4 a person is a little sketchy to me. Please enjoy this link to Michigan's own Chicken Shack if you'd like.

For this superficial reason, I prefer to call the restaurant by it's Japanese name: Sanzoku. According to a well-informed Japanese man, sanzoku means "mountain bandit" in Japanese. We all know the American childhood cliches of being afraid of a monster under the bed/in the closet, but there is a similar fear in Iwakuni of roving mountain bandit attacks. 

Kara had also been urged to check out Sanzoku, so we made a point of going for lunch. We drove up the mountain, taking care to watch out for bandits, and arrived to find the whole place decked out in traditional Japanese flags and tacky Christmas decorations. 

It's awfully Christmas-y for a nation that is 99% Shinto Buddhist, amirite? I guess our spirit is just contagious.

So, we finally wandered our way inside, accidentally asked to be sat in the middle of the smoking section, and the waitress gave us English menus. I ordered udon (thick noodles in broth) with yamame (because it sounds like "call me" in Spanish), a rice ball, and chicken on a skewer (their specialty). Well, yamame turned out to be a whole fish plopped into my udon.

You can take your shoes off to sit here.
Fish in my soup, chicken on my skewer.
The chicken had a good marinade on it, and the decor was very Japanese, but I'm not sure why people insist new people go to Sanzoku. We decided to walk around the outside for a while to check out the famous grounds. 
In-ground tables have heaters underneath! The heat is trapped inside using the tablecloth.

Kara with a pagoda in the background

Pretty waterfall on your way to the dining area

More outdoor seating

A snowman who has put up with one too many snowy nights outside

Kara about to fall in the zen garden!
I really liked the Chicken Shack, and I'm excited to know how close it is. The old-time decor and traditional Japanese seating were enough to give me a taste for Japanese culture, but the fish in my soup was not exactly what I wanted - I told Kara before we started eating that I just didn't want a head in my soup. Wish not granted!

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