Bad Food in Japan? @ Tateyama Murodou Sansou on 12Oct2013

dinner @ tateyama murodou sansou

dinner @ tateyama murodou sansou

recently a friend was relating his experience to izu several years back when it was hit by earthquake (i think it was 2009). they were rushing for the train & had bad food then. a few of us were surprised that one could have bad food in japan as even the cheap train station bentos & supermarket food were all pretty good.

well now i had my own experience of singularly bad food at tateyama murodou sansou (立山室堂山庄) – or google translate to mountain hut. the food was downright sucky. i guess it was to be expected as it was more like a “mountain hut”, and in fact a rather cosy place for serious trekkers c/w camping in the mountains, except that we paid 22000yen for 1 night with 2 meals for a room with no attached toilet & they gave you 1 face towel (no bath towel) for the onsen bath.

tempura

tempura

pickles

pickles

grilled salmon

grilled salmon

looking at the dinner items, i would not pay 1000yen for it & many 1000yen bentos would be better. in fact the same kitchen was open till 3pm & we had a very passable curry rice for 700yen (& the same with soba & gyudon ie beef on rice etc) which would be as good as the tempura, salmon & rice with pickles for dinner. compare this with the kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama which cost 25000yen for 2pax with attached toilet & bath & 2 meals, and with a good size yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths). or with senjusou which costs 15800yen, equally basic but far better dinner & breakfast meals.

breakfast @ tateyama murodou sansou

breakfast @ tateyama murodou sansou

another grilled salmon

another grilled salmon

breakfast was an equally bad affair.

the place was ran by a team of youngsters like students, with only 1 older man in the kitchen & 1 at the front desk. it was efficiently run though and service was polite & competent. everything is relative, so i guess a hut is a luxury c/w camping in the mountains but it is also relative to price. to me the 2 meals should be charged at no more than 2000yen pax & the room maybe 8000yen so it should be more like 12000yen than 22000yen.  still this was 2450m, and not so many options available (we could not get the tateyama hotel at murodou station & raichoso would really be a bad choice some distance up the mountain route).

in the end it is all about matching needs. for those doing serious trekking and rather not camp out, there would be reason to take this option. in our case for the current trip, we needed no more than 2hrs to walk around the ponds route & overlooking the hell’s valley(& likewise 2hrs max for the boardwalks at midagahara), so we would be better off just passing through midagahara & murodou on a day trip. rather than staying at tateyama or midagahara or murodou, we would be better off staying at toyama & omachi onsen ryokans. if we should decide to do more serious trekking, we could then plan differently & perhaps we could still stay here but LESS the meals. i would much rather have a 700yen gyudon from their kitchen & a soba from murodou station. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Nice Dinner @ Senjusou (千寿庄) Minshuku (民宿) on 11Oct2013

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

despite planning our trip several months ahead, i could not get the dates we wanted at midagahara hotel & tateyama hotel (at murodou), so decided to stay at tateyama cablecar station location. i also could not get a second night at greenview-tateyama but managed to book senjusou (千寿庄) which was just few steps (like 20m) from the cablecar station. 🙂

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

nice tofu, yuba & rolled fish

nice tofu & rolled eel

grilled fish

grilled fish

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, yuzu

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, orange

senjusou charged 9500yen/night for 2pax w/0 meals & 15800yen with 2 meals, so it was 3150yen pax for dinner+breakfast (all w/o attached toilets). so i guess there was no expectation of any sorts of kaiseki dinner.

anyhow the homecooked meal actually turned out pretty well. the sashimi moriawase though basic with maguro, salmon & ika, actually tasted a lot sweeter than what we had the night before at greenview-tateyama. 🙂

i like fish a lot more than my wife so the dishes agreed with me more.  the rolled eel was tasty (japanese food tended to be a bit salty) & the tofu & japanese taupok were nice. the grilled fish was usual fare average but which i liked anyway. the ebi furai (fry) was crispy & fresh & good with the salad. seemed like they also like oyster gratin here.  just ok. the ham hobayaki not something i really appreciate.  hobayaki is like grilling over a hoba leaf (朴叶 magnolia leaf)  over clay pan under fire, usually with salty miso paste. for me only hobayaki  i like is hida beef (飞弹牛), anything else is just elaborate effort & average result.

there were some edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, plus a small orange for dessert fruit & the usual gohan set (rice set with pickles). here we scooped our own rice from a rice cooker. japanese breakfast we had was basic, nothing much to write about.

as for the mingshuku, we got a front japanese tatami room on level 2 which was small but larger than several we saw at the back. we were also offered & took a look at a level 3 western room with 3 beds which looked more like a dorm.  looked like all rooms were w/o attached. the room had a powerful aircon which was important as it was still hot (about 29degC) at 3.30pm when we checked in.

we had both men & women common toilets at level 2, and it was very closeby as the mingshuku was tiny really. there were men & women yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths) which were tiny rooms more like a large bath tub. the changing room was like an ante-room before the bath where the access door slided open, so there was like zero privacy. service was basic but competent. we asked them in email if they could forward our luggage but they referred us to tateyama train station to do that so that was why we forwarded from greenview-tateyama. anyway all these to be expected for this tiny family-run place. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy