Near Musashi-Kosugi Station in Kanagawa Prefecture, there is a restaurant called Italian Izakaya: Natura that constantly has line-ups outside. Regardless of the day, it seems the place is always wall-to-wall with customers.

While Natura is said to have good food in general, the real buzz is spreading about their specialty: Whitebait Piled on Peperoncino Pasta – 880yen (US$11). Whitebait refers to immature fish that are collected, cooked and eaten whole in large numbers, and are popular in Italian cuisine.

We decided to go to Italian Izakaya: Natura and investigate what all the fuss is about.

It was a rainy weekend evening when we went, but that did nothing to keep people away. The place was packed. Luckily, we were spared a long wait in line and was able to get in and order my pasta promptly.

A short time later a waitress approached the table and informed me:“Your pasta is almost ready, we will put the whitebait on your table now.” The waitress then set a massive box of tiny white fish on our table in front of us.

A few minutes later another waitress brought the pasta and began piling the whitebait on the pasta with a pair of tongs. When I say “piling,” I mean they must have put four heaping tongfuls onto the plate so that the pasta quickly vanished from sight. What was left could best be described as a tower of baby fish.

Putting aside the image of a mass fish grave on your plate, it’s the taste that counts and this dish didn’t disappoint. The pasta was cooked well and had a nice texture、 and the olive oil had a nice rich aroma. However, the combined saltiness of the whitebait mountain and the spiciness of the peperoncino made the dish taste quite strong. Perhaps they could have either reined in the saltiness by using less whitebait or diluted the peperoncino spices just a touch.

Overall, Natura gives you a good bang for your buck. You can get more food for your 880 yen here than at any other nearby restaurant that I know of. Not only that, if you fancy a glass of wine, they serve them for only 400 yen, which is a good deal. So there are a lot of reasons for everyone to check out Natura at least once. Head on down if you’re in the area!

■Italian Izakaya: Natura Musashi-Kosugi Store
Address: Kanagawa Prefecture, Kawasaki City, Chugen Ward, Kosugi 3-428-6
Business Hours: 5:00pm – 1:00am (Kitchen closes at midnight)
Closed: Mondays
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