Discovering Himeji – Himeji Castle and Sara Soba

By the time we finished exploring Mt. Shosha, we didn’t have much time to see Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himejijō) before it closed so we just made a hasty visit to take pictures of the spectacular castle grounds, for after all, it is said to be the most beautiful castle in Japan. Its pure white appearance does give an air of purity and elegance to the castle, making it look as if it shaped out of the clouds, a lovely visage against the azure blue sky.

The Most Beautiful Castle in Japan, Himeji Castle.

Moat surrounding the castle walls.
I always love a castle surrounded by water. Makes it look even more majestic.
Himeji castle soaring skyward from behind the defence stone walls and moat.
From afar Himeijijō really looks like a cloud castle, almost celestial.
A wide view of Himeji Castle against a blue sky with scattered white clouds.

Unfortunately I haven’t got the chance to really explore the castle so there isn’t anything much I can say about it. So what else is there in Himeji? How about food? Everyone needs to eat when they travel, and most love to have good food after taking in great sights, especially when the travel involves a great deal of walking. And I found a restaurant in Himeji that I absolutely must recommend!

Sara Soba: Soba in plates

So… I hereby introduce you to Sarasobabunraku (皿そば文楽 姫路駅南店)! This restaurant specialises in sara soba. Many might have heard of wanko soba and zaru soba, but have you heard of sara soba? I haven’t, till I stepped foot in Himeji.

The concept of sara soba is pretty similar to wanko soba. But instead of putting the soba in small bowls like wanko soba, they place it in plates instead, hence the name, sara soba (sara means plate). Also, all the plates are served together instead of being re-filled after you finish your first serving, unlike wanko soba. You can either order a all-you-can-eat sara soba set, whereby they will add more plates of soba after you finish, or regular meals like what I did, with six plates of soba at the side.

Shrimp tempura hotpot surrounded by several plates of sara soba.
Shrimp tempura boiling in a hot pot.
Bubbling hot shrimp tempura! Thumbs up to this great visual presentation that also adds to the taste!

There is a way making the dipping sauce more tantalising to the taste buds, according to our Himeji friend, and that is first, to put the spring onion and sesame seeds into the plain white bowl at the bottom left of the photo below. Next, break the egg and carefully pour the egg whites in the maple leave adorned bowl at the top right hand corner. Place the raw egg yolk into the bowl containing tororo yam (とろろ芋, tororo imo) and mix. Tororo is grated Japanese mountain yam which is kind of slimy, a bit of a strange texture for the uninitiated, but once you get used to it is it pretty good. Finally, add the tororo-egg yolk mix into the bowl containing the spring onions and sesame seeds and add the tsuyu (dipping sauce) to about 2/3 of the bowl. After that, it is up to you to add the amount of wasabi you desire.

An arrangement of condiments.
Dipping sauce mixed with spring onion, sesame seeds, tororo yam and egg yolk.
This is the end result of the mixed dip. It really makes the soba extra delicious, though I did not quite like the taste when we added the soba broth in the end, perhaps it was the raw egg yolk that made it a little fishy.

Sarasobabunraku (皿そば文楽 姫路駅南店)

Address: 177 Shikamaku Nodacho Himeji Hyogo

〒672-8040 姫路市飾磨区野田町177

Tel: 0792-84-2130 (+81-792-84-2130)

Opening hours: [Monday to Sundays ]11:00~21:00 (L.O. 20:45)

Price: [Lunch] 1000~1999 JPY; [Dinner] 1000~1999 JPY

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Beauty- and Travel-holic who loves to play and dream, and recording her life moments.

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