Yakushima Time

Mami Hidaka / Farmer and Chef of the restaurant “Shokusai Nakarase”

From farmer’s wife to chef!

Mami Hidaka / Farmer and Chef of the restaurant “Shokusai Nakarase”

Mami Hidaka and her family live in the primarily agricultural village of Haruo, located on the south side of Yakushima. The Hidakas are farmers too and they grow a variety of crops with an emphasis on the local citruses “ponkan” and “tankan” (two local mandarin varieties).

Mami Hidaka raised her kids on healthy meals that were cooked using lots of home-grown vegetables. One day, her husband Yutaka suggested that she open a restaurant as a way of introducing the local agricultural and food culture. When she opened it in the spring of 2014, Mami’s restaurant was the first farmer’s restaurant on the island. Her husband Yutaka built it for her, with his own hands.

Mami Hidaka / Farmer and Chef of the restaurant “Shokusai Nakarase”
The menu is one set meal for \1,500 and the content varies daily. It is essentially a farmer-chef special making use of whatever is available and fresh. The meal is comprised of more than 10 household dishes, a traditional dish called “Kainoko,” rice miso-soup, and a small dessert. “Kainoko” is a tasty dish with tiny vegetable cubes cooked with chicken in a salted mackerel broth. Every village on the island has its own unique food culture so this is a new culinary experience even for the islanders who come here from other villages.

Mami Hidaka / Farmer and Chef of the restaurant “Shokusai Nakarase”
One highly recommended item on the menu is “Kawahiko,” a food local to the village of Haruo. It makes use of a “Mochi Imo,” a variety of taro root that has been officially certified as one of Kagoshima’s traditional vegetables. This tuber is characterized by its fragrant smell and stickiness.

Most of the vegetables are home-grown
On the day I visited the restaurant, the menu offered vegetable tempura, a flying fish cake, carrots and cheese, pickled vegetables, ginger boiled in soy sauce, sauteed bamboo shoots and carrots, potherb mustard greens with vinegared miso, bitter gourd boiled in soy sauce, papaya with chili sauce, mackerel miso, and green onion namul (a Korean dish). With its wide variety of healthy vegetable dishes, this meal ? as indicated on the menu ? is what one would expect to appear on a farmer’s table.

The restaurant is closed during the citrus harvest from December to March, and Mami is extremely busy during this time, making and stocking a year’s supply of miso and pickled vegetables.

Written by Mikako Takada Iso Coffee Editorial Office

Restaurant Shokusai Nakarase

  • 896-4 Haruo,Yakushima Township Kumage District, Kagoshima
  • TEL: 0997-49-3011
  • Open: 11:30-14:00 (last order)
  • Dinner: reservation required
  • Closed: Thursdays, the third Sunday of the month, December thru March