So the other night I was at Tracks Bar with my Sorels tossed aside hoping to dance up another snow storm when a hunger pang forced me back to the bar to order a bite to eat. I had yet try their almost-famous fish and chips from their connected take-out shop, Shark & Taties so without hesitation but with a drunken slur, I ordered the small NZ style fish & chips for only ¥700. And I must admit, I have never been to New Zealand or England, and I am therefore no connoisseur, but they were by far the best fish & chips I have ever tasted! I could not stop thinking about those crispy beer battered gifts from the sea and so 2 days later I was back with an extra growling gut. My partner and I ordered 1 batch of chips, 4 pieces of fish, and 2 pineapple fritters. We managed to get some pics before it was all devoured but then couldn’t resist ordering more! More fried goodness, tender fish, and juicy pineapple.
I highly recommend trying some Shark & Taties and even though it’s meant to be a take-out shop, I suggest you just order a plate and eat at Tracks Bar instead. They have an amazing selection of beers for less than you’d expect to pay. Go on the weekends and you will be treated to best live music in the Hakuba Valley…. no make that Nagano Prefecture, or even Japan!
There are soba shops all over the Hakuba Valley but my favorite sansai soba is from Yamato Soba. Sansai means mountain vegetable, these wild and nutritious plants are loaded onto a plate of cold soba noodles along with some grated daikon, green onions, shredded nori (seaweed) and wasabi. You have to pour over the soba tsuyu (sauce) yourself. It comes in a ceramic flask, make sure you mix up your plate well then dig in and slurp away. Yes, it’s OK to slurp your noodles in Japan. In fact, the locals feel that you will be missing out on some flavor if you don’t.
If you get zaru soba (plain noodles in middle pic below) you will get a small cup of soba tsuyu where you can add your desired amount of wasabi and daikon. Then you load up on noodles with your chopsticks and dip it into the cup, slurp, chomp, and swallow.
Yamato Soba has cold and hot versions of all of their dishes. You can also order udon (a thick white noodle) instead of soba (brown buckwheat noodles).
There are always a few specials to choose from like the seasonal tempura and okowa (sticky rice mixed with beans, see pic below). Today they also had kurumi soba which is a walnut dip instead of the usual soy-sauce based dip. Oishikatta (It was yum)!
Hours: 11:00 to 16:00 (and sometimes 17:00 or 18:00)