Grill your own meat, veggies in a thatched-roof ‘robatayaki’ restaurant near Mount Fuji
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2023
The aroma of charcoal and grilled meat wafts through the open door of a traditional, thatched-roof building on a street in Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji.
Hungry customers line up for hours to dine at one of the hearths inside the 150-year-old house turned restaurant.
Sanrokuen specializes in robatayaki, in which diners order skewers of meat, fish and vegetables, and cook them over hot coals in a hearth while seated on tatami mats.
The menu consists of five set courses, from 2,200 yen to 4,400 yen ($16- $33), that can satiate one to two people.
Each course comes with a whole fresh fish, such as char or rainbow trout, a potato skewer, assorted vegetables and soup. Most of the sets come with a chicken skewer; however, customers who order the higher-end courses can also sample duck, boar and beef.
Skewers are available to order a la carte from 220 to 880 yen, which we did once we had a taste of the roasted corn skewer.
The owner is somewhat of a polyglot. He spoke to my family in Japanese, then Mandarin and finally English as he tried to determine what we understood.
He demonstrated how to cook our skewers over the hearth, dipping some in a large jar of tare, or sauce. The tare became a caramelized brown over the heat of the coals and tasted delicious.
Grilling your own food can be intimidating at first, especially if you aren’t used to grilling your own meat or fish. You run the risk of getting sick if you don’t cook it well enough. It’s a low risk that all of the customers take.
At the end of the meal, we were served hoto, a hearty noodle soup from the Yamanashi area. The owner was friendly, and to the delight of my children, he drew doodles of Mickey Mouse and Doraemon on slips of paper.
We left Sanrokuen, warmed by the heat of the hearth and the kindness of the staff.
Location: 3370-1 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi 401-0301
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 7:30 pm. Closed on Japanese holidays.
Prices: Sets that serve two people range from 2,200 to 4,400 yen. Additional skewers range from 220 to 880 yen. Cash only.
Directions: A 15-minute walk from Kawaguchiko Station.