Hidden gem wows us with its atmospheric setting, and its amazing food.

Our reporter Egawa Tasuku has visited a lot of Japanese restaurants in his time, but even he was blown away when he was taken to a restaurant tucked deep in the mountains of Nagasaki Prefecture.

He’d been taken there as part of a press tour sponsored by Nagasaki’s Minamishimabara City and when the bus they were travelling on stopped at the restaurant for lunch, this was the sight that greeted him.

Blinking at the beautiful sight, Egawa felt as if he needed to pinch himself to check he wasn’t dreaming. It was as if he’d been whisked away to a secret world, and he became even more immersed in the mysterious setting as they walked through the mist and around to the entrance of the old building.

▼ Ramune drinks being cooled in a stone tub fed by a natural waterfall.

Relaxed by the lush greenery and calm environment, Egawa felt as if he had landed in an unexplored region. Despite being a sweltering hot day, it felt comfortably cool here, and when he remarked about it to his guide, they told him the shade did a lot to keep the place cool, but the restaurant also pipes out mist around the restaurant as a measure against the heat.

The mist was a fantastic idea that was both practical and atmospheric, and as they came to the entrance of the restaurant, Egawa could see the interior looked to be just as beautiful as the exterior.

The restaurant is called Yama no Tera Yuukyo, which is a beautiful name that translates to “Hilltop Hall Mountain Temple“.

From April to September, they serve nagashi somen noodles here, and from October to March, you can enjoy hot pot by the hearth. As it was September when Egawa visited, he was able to enjoy the restaurant’s somen noodles.

Hand-rolled somen noodles are a specialty of Minamishimabara, and though you can find the dish on the menu at a large number of restaurants around the city, there’s no place more atmospheric to get a taste of it than at this mountain restaurant.

There are plenty of side dishes to go with the noodles, and all the dishes were piled high with generous servings. The basket of somen above served four people, while the tempura below was for two people.

The tempura made with seasonal local vegetables was just as delicious and well-made as the somen. The noodles were priced at 660 yen per person, while the tempura cost 880 yen for one serving, which was a fantastic deal compared to what Egawa usually gets in Tokyo, especially with this quality.

Other menu options include: Deep-fried masu salmon (1,100 yen), salt-grilled masu salmon (830 yen), deep-fried chicken (980 yen), charcoal-grilled bacon (940 yen), charcoal-grilled chicken (940 yen) and charcoal-grilled Wagyu beef (2,520 yen).

Egawa had never seen a serving of tempura this big for two people, and though he knew the somen noodles were a signature dish at the restaurant, he found his taste buds became totally preoccupied by the delicious, crunchy taste of the freshly fried local vegetables.

The tempura was a popular choice with other diners, and despite its tucked-away location, the restaurant remained busy on this weekday afternoon, with a steady stream of regular customers.

It’s not just the food that’s amazing, as the views from the low tables is also spectacular, especially when the leaves change colour in autumn.

With his stomach full, Egawa left the restaurant, and as he turned back for one last look to cement the mysterious hidden location in his memory, he vowed to return one day in future.

Yamanotera Yuukyo is a wonderful hidden retreat in the mountains that Egawa highly recommends visiting next time you’re in Nagasaki. And if you time your visit to coincide with the Nagasaki Lantern Festival due to be held in February next year, you’ll be in for a very magical experience.

Restaurant information
Yamanotera Yuukyo / 山の寺 邑居
Address: Nagasaki-ken, Minamishimabara-shi, Fukaecho-bo 3988-22
長崎県 南島原市 深江町戊 3988-22
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Related: Minamishimabara City
Images © SoraNews24
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