At a smoked foods restaurant it is reasonably common to find that all the dish’s ingredients have been smoked. It is however uncommon to find a place that goes as far as smoking the desserts and coffee beans too!?
Welcome to Yoichi Town's own "Kemukarou". This new cafe was opened by the Nanpo Tometaro Shop, which has been in business for over 60 years, specializing in hand crafted smoked foods. As soon as you enter the cafe the smell of smoke will have your mouth watering.
▲ Located near the town harbor. This shop opened last year in a renovated old house.
"The reason we started this shop is to let everyone know that you can enjoy smoked foods as more than just an appetizer. We use a variety of smoked foods in our meals," says second generation shopkeeper Keiji Nanpo. He is a pro at smoking foods, as anyone who eats here will tell you.
You can find smoked fish, chicken, and beef on the menu, of course, but it may also surprise some of you to find vegetables available as well. If you can put it on a plate and serve it, then this restaurant will smoke it. When I visited I ordered the pot-au-feu. This smoky, slightly sweet soup filled me right up.
One thing I have to tell you of course, is about the smoked coffee. After being seated, a mill is brought to the table and they let you grind the beans yourself! "We want customers to enjoy the smell of fresh ground coffee beans before they drink." says Mr. Nanpo. The smell is mellow, yet full of subtle flavor. After roasting the beans, the drink is smoked and then brought to your table for you to enjoy.
▲ Smoked Pot-au-feu (960 Yen, Lunch Set - 1,360 Yen.) Other options include borscht, smoked beef, and red wine stew.
▲ Shop Owner Mr. Keiji Nanpo. "I originally thought up smoked coffee as a joke, but it turned out to be delicious!"
The cafe is connected to the Nanpo Tometaro Shop, which is filled with a variety of products. Yoichi Town was formerly a manufacturer of herring, but once the catches started to fail the main industry switched to smoked foods. If you had visited back then you would have been able to see smoke rising from many buildings in the area. But today, the only shop that has continued smoking different kinds of food is today's feature.
Nanpo Tometaro Shop uses only those ingredients brought in by local fishing boats, without adding preservatives or coloring, and only seasons with plain salt. This unique shop runs by the rule that "the only extra flavor we need is time and effort."
▲ The smoking room. The temperature is a cool 20 degrees (Celsius) in this room. Perfect for a careful, slow smoking. The temperature is paramount in achieving the perfect taste, so the chefs keep a careful eye on the gauge.
▲ Smoked Hera Crab. Available on the weekends with reservation.
(Also available to take home in a cooler box, although they don't ship.)
Yoichi Town is about 30 minutes from Otaru by car, with the drive taking you along the coast. If you have the chance be sure to stop by for a bite!
● 燻製茶房 燻香廊 (Smoke Coffee House - Kemukarou)
Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 6:00 (Last Order at 5:00)