Kuraya Diner くらや食堂

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Kuraya Diner

In between the typhoons coming one after another, there was one incredibly clear day. Around noon I rode my bicycle to the Kuraya Diner in Kashiwagi. The shop is not all that big, and the wooden tables, chairs, and walls give it a warm feeling. I sat below the Hanshin Tigers calendar and ordered the Garlic Chicken Lunch. The large trucks driving down Nat. Hwy 169 flap the blue shop curtain, and I can catch a glimpse of the mountain on the other side of the river for a few seconds. The sound of the grill and the scent of garlic drifted out from the kitchen.

As I just moved here two years ago, the current Kuraya Diner is all I know. The national highway used to pass through the town of Kashiwagi, sandwiched between a playhouse, movie theater, and many shops. Near the Nara Kotsu Bus Terminal was Kuraya Diner. The highway was so narrow that any on-coming cars would cause trouble, but this town was still very lively. When the highway was moved down the mountain, Kuraya Diner relocated to where it is today.

“Do you eat myoga?”, the shop owner Mr. Kuratani asked me as he carried a basket out of the kitchen. Even if Kashiwagi does not have the same liveliness it once had, Mr. Kuratani and his wife continue running their diner with a bright outlook. “With fewer and fewer people, there are a lot of negative ways of thinking, but I want everyone to have a dream and stay positive,” Mr. Kuratani said. That feeling definitely comes across when you meet him. Every time I visit Kuraya Diner, I look forward to speaking with Mr. Kuratani. I of course look forward to the food as well.

The garlic chicken, kinpira burdock, tofu and myoga miso soup, salad, and rice arrived at my table. It is not high-class food, but it is delicious and easy to eat. There are a variety of noodle and rice bowl dishes on the menu, but I always order the same thing. I was thinking I want to try something new next time, and asked Mr. Kuratani for his recommendation. “I’ve been making this dish for a while now, but recently I’ve been making the Curry-flavored Chicken and Fried Tofu Lunch. I like chicken, so as you might guess, we have a lot of chicken dishes.” It sounds very savory and warm. I feel it is a forward-thinking dish, perfect for rainy days.