Hakata and Iwakuni

Our restaurant in RAMEN STADIUM!

 On Tuesday, we headed out from Sasebo to Iwakuni after a slightly shortened morning clinic.  On the way, we stopped in Hakata so that we could go to RAMEN STADIUM!!!  We wanted to something fun to break up the trip and since it was around lunch time, we decided to try Hakata-style ramen.  SMS’s favorite LA ramen shop is called Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi and he was really into the idea of trying real Hakata ramen.  There are 8 shops with three of them featuring Hakata-style.  We went to the most delicious-looking one.  It was pretty tasty.  I was a fan of the burnt crushed garlic oil- it sounds like a bad idea but it was so good!  The noodles were very thin, which isn’t my preference but really, it was all very oishii.  We got to Iwakuni that evening and I dispensed some sleep study kits.  We had a light dinner and turned in.

Hakata ramen- yum! (Photo by SMS)

The next morning, SMS, the corpsman and I headed to Iwakuni castle and bridge.  The bridge is amazing with its five wooden arches.  The castle is a reconstruction finished in 1962 and is actually a little forward of the original foundation in order to capitalize on the amazing views.  So, not the most old-timey but the view from the top floor is pretty amazing.

Our asa-gohan of Iwakuni sushi- meh.
Cute painted rock dolls- an Iwakuni souvenir!

After a fun morning, I saw an afternoon clinic.  SMS and I went to Shabu Shabu for dinner and it was delicious.  There were some crazy kids there- the craziest acting I’ve seen in a restaurant here in Japan.  The meal was great, although I found it hard to eat all of the beef tongue.  It was thinly sliced and very anatomically correct.  Since I don’t like naming the muscles as I eat them, I stopped after a few slices.

Yuzu with miso eggplant and whole fish!

Thursday was another busy day in clinic but we had an awesome meal at a cute restaurant named Yuzu.  We had the lightest assorted tempura, great sashimi and a fried whole fish.  My absolute favorite was an incredible miso eggplant dish.  I saw a stack of eggplant and asked the cook (in Nihongo!) how he prepared it.  He asked if miso was ok and we said yes.  I’m so glad we did.  The eggplant was carved from the skin like a grapefruit and then roasted.  It was topped with an amazing savory miso sauce.  I was so happy that we went off the (English) menu.  It was the most amazing meal I’ve had in awhile and the serendipitous find made it even better!

On Friday, SMS headed out to Miyajima while I finished off the last of the 45 consults.  I went to Sako’s for lunch.  It is a small restaurant owned by a husband-wife duo.  The wife has been the OIC’s secretary for 30 years so basically, she runs the clinic!  I had an egg BLT (EBLT) and it was delicious. Missie gave me a ride back to the clinic, which was great b/c otherwise I would have been run-walking which may not have felt great after an EBLT.

SMS and I had been invited out to dinner but plans fell through since the entire clinic was going to Sasebo the next day for a Fun Day!  So, we went back to Sako’s where I had my second BLT (this time with avocado) of the day.  We watched sumo and the two BLTs seemed apropos.  We were invited to Missie’s evening English class as guests.  We were a little hesitant but we went and had the best time!  Everyone was so nice and tried so hard.  They also helped us with our Japanese, which was very kind and helpful.  We were so happy that we went and it was such a cool experience.

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