We were blown away by how delicious their food was!

Every year in November, the city of Takasaki in Gunma, central Japan–a tourist hub believed to be the origin of the daruma doll–holds a contest to see which restaurant in the city makes the best pasta. It’s called “King of Pasta”, and Italian restaurants from all over Takasaki enter their best dishes in the hopes that the visiting guests will vote for them as the reigning monarch of pasta.

The winner in 2022 was a restaurant called Sorisso, so we had to check it out and find out what made them the grand champion of Italian noodles in Takasaki. For journalism, of course.

Sorisso was housed in a huge building overflowing with luxury appeal. We arrived before opening time, but there was already a line waiting to get in, as a testament to the place’s popularity.

Once inside, we were impressed by the decor, which was super stylish and very cool. Our table was like a bar, with the center filled with plants. It looked very elegant, definitely befitting the restaurant’s royal title.

We had a specific dish in mind, so we were eager to flip through the menu and find it, but we didn’t have to look too hard. The words “King of Pasta 2022 First Place Winner” were plastered in big, colorful font on the very front of the menu. That was what we were looking for — the “Joshu Mugibuta and Aroma of Sake Pasta” (1,650 yen [US$11.81]). The photo showed creamy pasta noodles topped with thick slices of meat, the mere sight of which made us salivate.

In no time at all Takasaki’s number one pasta dish was laid before us on a beautiful, expensive-looking plate — a pile of pasta tossed in a cream sauce and topped with fragrant, thick-cut slices of pork.

“Joshu Mugibuta” is a high-quality type of pork produced in Gunma, specially fed a diet primarily of barley to reduce the “pork-like smell” of the meat that bothers some people. The pork had also been marinated with miso and sake lees, and its glistening juices put us in heaven. We decided we had to start our taste test there.

After spritzing it with juice from a sudachi fruit–a Japanese citrus–we took a bite. The pork was super soft and juicy, and the more we ate, the more its meaty flavor and the aroma of sake overtook our senses. The sudachi provided a refreshing acidity that exquisitely complemented the salty sweetness of miso.

The pasta was dressed with a carbonara-like cream sauce. It was so thick, but silky smooth on the tongue, and it paired with the chewy noodles beautifully.

But what might have been the key to the whole dish was the plentiful amount of mushrooms mixed in. Shimeji, maitake, and brown mushrooms were all cooked to the perfect tenderness, adding some absolutely delightful texture to an already delicious dish. Like the pork, the mushrooms were marinated in sake and packed with umami.

And with a bite of each ingredient–the pork, the mushrooms, and the pasta–eaten together, it became an even more exquisite dish. The miso used in the pork was the perfect match for the cream sauce of the pasta. The aroma of the slightly dry sake was also excellent. And while the portion size, at first glance, appeared to be a bit on the small side, in eating it we realized just how much was on the plate, and when we were finished we were actually quite full and highly satisfied.

All in all we thought it was a well-put-together pasta dish that was absolutely delicious, so if you happen to be in Takasaki or have the chance to check out this delicious restaurant, we highly recommend you do. And don’t forget to head to Takasaki Station and try some yaki-manju for dessert!

Restaurant Information
Sorisso / ソリッソ
Address: Gunma-ken Takasaki-shi Takazeki-machi 317-4
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Last order 14:30), 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Last order 9 p.m.)
Closed Wednesdays

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