On the whole, the local cuisine of Matsuyama, Ehime prefecture tends to be sweet. From seasonings such as soy sauce and miso paste, udon and ramen noodles, and sushi, in general everything is seasoned on the sweet side.
While it also, of course, depends on the personal preference of the individual, apparently sweetness was once the measure of hospitality shown towards visitors.
Hyota, a restaurant located in central Matsuyama city, is a symbol of this sweet food culture. While on weekdays, it’s mainly office workers who line up in front of the shop, on weekends visitors and sightseers gather both from within the prefecture and further afield.
This is “Chuka soba” (slang for ramen noodles), Hyota’s most popular dish. It seems just like any other bowl of tonkotsu ramen, right?
After taking a sip of the soup, anyone used to savory ramen noodles will be utterly surprised.
The source of the sweetness lies in the secret soy sauce based sauce that has been passed on ever since the shop first opened.
The soup is made by adding the secret sauce to a broth made with chicken bones and pig skin. It mixes together perfectly with the specially ordered straight, thin noodles, and as my taste buds get used to it, I start to taste the deep flavor beyond the sweetness. Ohh, sweet ramen is pretty alright, too. If you find yourself thinking like this, you will surely come and visit again.
Served with the same secret sauce as the noodles, this oden is another popular Hyota dish.
The 2 most popular choices among customers are this impressive piece of tofu and chewy, sinewy meat. Used for the oden, the simple broth, which has a slight sweetness to it, is made using chicken bones and giblets.
Actually, Hyota’s sweetness has roots.
Right after the war, Hyota was one of the food stalls within the “village” of food stalls based around Matsuyama station. At the time, it was bustling with customers searching for sweet flavors, which were rare back then.
The father of Mr. Dai Kato, the current owner (on the left), was a fan of Hyota and became an apprentice. In 1980, the current shop became independent and even now after the generation change, the second generation owner has inherited and still uses the original recipe.
As the owner of the stall has now passed away, Hyota is the only place where this flavor can be found. “It’s my mission to keep on protecting this recipe,” says Mr. Kato. Do come and have a taste of the tempting bowlful that has been satisfying the minds and stomachs of Matsumoto citizens for decades.
Address: 6-1-10 Sanban-cho, Matsuyama city, Ehime prefecture
Open: 11:30-14:00, 17:30-23:00
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Eri Hatano
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Eri Hatano I was born in Miyazaki Prefecture in 1978 and now live in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture. I used to be a newspaper journalist, but work as a freelance writer now. Though I left Ehime 2 years ago, I did not forget the place itself nor the unfailing hospitality and warmth of its people. I finally returned in the spring of 2017. I am absolutely positive that anyone who visits Ehime, even just once, will fall in love with it. That is why I write articles to support those who plan to visit.
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