There are numerous traditional Japanese houses in the Mitsuhama district of Matsuyama city that are over 100-years-old. In recent years, some of these houses have started to be used as restaurants, etc.
The Mori house, which goes all the way back to the Edo period (1603~1867) is one such house. The 8th generation Naoki Mori opened Taiya in his birth home in 2004. For Mr. Mori, who at the time happened to be at a crossroads in his life, opening up his birth home as a restaurant was an act of encouragement to young people to help revitalize the region.
Why did he choose sea bream rice? For Mr. Mori, the dish truly represents his mother’s home cooking. The recreation of his mother’s flavor became a Mitsuhama specialty in an instant.
The restaurant’s menu consists of the Taimeshi Zen course (Sea bream rice, JPY2160 incl. tax), of which 30 portions are made per day. In addition to the sea bream rice served in an ohitsu (traditional round wooden container), simmered pumpkin, fish tempura, hijiki (sea weed), Japanese pickles, harlequin sandsmelt (fish) simmered in sweet vinegar, sea bream sashimi and sea bream soup are served on top of a scarlet red ozen (a four-legged tray). All of the dishes allow you to enjoy the best sides of the ingredients with flavors that please both the mind and the body.
As I wasn’t able to finish all of my sea bream rice, I asked if I could take the leftovers home. They wrapped it in such cute packaging; it will make a good souvenir for my family, thank you!
Taiya is not famous only for its sea bream rice. The actual building in which the shop is located has been designated a tangible cultural property and is full of interesting points.
First off is the “Renri no Ki” located in the rock garden. As the tree has branches that are entwined together as one it is worshipped as a sacred tree – It has garnered attention as a place for tying relationships!
Also, the writing displayed nonchalantly on the wall of the room where I had my meal is apparently a handwritten passage by the poet, Masaoka Shiki. I was taken aback: “Is it really okay to just hang it on the wall like this?”
Believe it or not, Mr. Mori’s great-grandfather apparently learned haiku from Ohara Kiju who was a teacher of Masaoka Shiki. Apparently because of this connection, there are many objects related to Masaoka Shiki in the house.
I don’t know if Masaoka Shiki uttered the words, “It’s delicious”, but if you visit Ehime, you must try the sea bream rice – You are guaranteed to be satisfied!
Sea Bream Rice Specialist Taiya
Address: 1-chome 3-21 Mitsu, Matsuyama city, Ehime prefecture
Closed: Tuesdays & Wednesdays (Open on national holidays)
* Open only on January 1st during New Year’s holidays, closed from January 2nd through January 4th. After January 5th, open normally except for regular holidays
URL: http://www18.ocn.ne.jp/~taiya/ (Japanese)
*As the Taimeshi Zen is limited to 30 portions per day, we recommend making a reservation in advance.
The Setouchi Finder Editors
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