We commemorate the new Hokuriku Shinkansen route with a truly local meal.

Japan’s Hokuriku Region–home to some great tourists stops like the town of Kanazawa–has gotten a lot of well-deserved attention recently thanks to the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen route, which allows you to reach some areas faster and easier than ever. On a recent trip to Kanazawa, our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa decided to take advantage of Hokuriku’s improved accessibility with a quick trip to Tsuruga.

Located in Fukui Prefecture, Tsuruga is only an hour away from Kanazawa on the Shinkansen now. The new Hokuriku route has a lot of tunnels, but the view from Kanazawa to Tsuruga also showcases Hokuriku’s beautiful countryside scenery.

Seiji had never been to Tsuruga before, so he had fun imagining what the new Shinkansen line’s final stop would be like as he passed through the route’s longest tunnel at 19.8 kilometers (12.3 miles). When he got off the bullet train, he saw…

…probably the largest Shinkansen station he’d ever seen.

Is this an airport? he thought.

Tokyo and Osaka are fairly large Shinkansen stations, but they couldn’t compare to the openness of Tsuruga Station.

Seiji saw signs around the station advertising local Fukui delicacies like Echizen Crab, but he wasn’t quite ready to splurge on something so fancy. He was craving something that the average Tsuruga resident would recommend to a friend. And so, in SoraNews24 style, he hailed a taxi and asked the driver for a recommendation.

Seiji: “I want to eat something, but I don’t know anything about Tsuruga. Can you take me to a restaurant you personally like?”

Taxi driver, in a thick Tsuruga accent: “Somewhere I like? I don’t eat anything too fancy, though.”

Seiji: “That’s exactly what I’m looking for!”

Taxi driver: “Alright, I’ll bring to you the place around the corner, then.”

The easygoing taxi driver, who Seiji estimated to be in his 70s, didn’t seem perturbed by his request at all and promptly set off on his way. As he drove, the taxi driver commented on stores in the area.

“I like a specific sauce katsudon (pork cutlet with sauce served over rice) place…oh, and that seafood restaurant is popular with tourists.”

The taxi driver didn’t drive far before arriving at their destination. In fact, he made just one turn after exiting the Tsuruga Station facility. “We’re here!” His restaurant of choice: Europe-ken.

Seiji had actually been to a Europe-ken upon a Fukui-born friend’s recommendation, way back when Seiji was in an indie rock band. He could clearly remember the crunch of the katsu cutlet batter and the delicious texture of the rice.

Seiji had always wanted to visit Europe-ken again, so he chalked it up to destiny that his cab driver had brought him here of all places.

He promptly ordered a katsudon and mini salad set for 990 yen (US$6.50) and added on some miso soup for 220 yen. Katsudon is typically made with pork cutlet, but Europe-gen’s menu had other cutlets like shrimp and chicken.

Seiji’s taxi driver said he only ate katsudon there, though, so Seiji stuck with his recommendation.

Three cutlets nestled on a bed of rice were brought to his table, and Seiji instantly felt a pang of nostalgia. He eagerly took a bite of the familiar meal.


Sauce katsu in Fukui tends to be thinly-cut and crispy, but Europe-gen’s cutlets were thick enough to retain the meat’s original umami flavor. It made for a rich, high-quality meal.

One of Seiji’s favorite parts of the meal is the fact that you’re given a whole kettle of hot green tea to counteract the meal’s richness. It was pretty good tea, too!

The miso was a great addition to the meal as well.

With his stomach full and his heart happy, Seiji concluded his Tsuruga local meal. He noticed a map of Europe-ken branch locations hanging up in the restaurant and realized the restaurant was actually called Tsuruga Europe-ken, and that it’s a spinoff from the Europe-ken chain he’d previously eaten at, started by a former Europe-ken employee with his boss’ blessing.

Seiji was able to walk back to Tsuruga Station in five minutes, so this isn’t a restaurant you need to take a taxi to get to. Yet, if it hadn’t been for his taxi driver’s recommendation, Seiji wouldn’t have had such a memorable meal. It was all worth it in the end.

Restaurant information
Tsuruga Europe-ken / 敦賀ヨーロッパ軒
Address: Fukui-ken, Tsuruga-shi, Kiyomizu-cho 2-19-1
Open: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 4:30 p.m.-8 p.m.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but may vary by month

Photos ©SoraNews24
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