Kaburaki is a popular izakaya style restaurant on the main street of Yuzawa. There are plenty of other izakayas around competing for your business but Kaburaki stands out for its unusual mix of international and Japanese influences, offering a kind of izakaya-fusion experience.
Kaburaki is the work of a young chef who loves to experiment with his ingredients. It is one of the restaurants that offer such a good choice it is hard to decide what to get, even if you are a regular. There are two menus - the printed standard menu that stays pretty much the same throughout the year, and the daily handwritten menu that has the specials that take advantage of the fresh ingredients available on that day. As you would expect, some of the best dishes are to be found on the handwritten version but being carefully scripted in lovely calligraphy it can be pretty difficult to decipher if you are not a kanji expert. Whatever the seasonal specialty is at that time of year, it is sure to feature with an innovative twist. I had the best asparagus I have ever eaten there, with three different kinds sauteed in butter with a touch of salt and pepper. Like many items on the menu, it was simple but delicious. The chef is a local and knows who to talk to in order to get the best (or most unusual) ingredients; we were served up little bowls of bear stew one winter thanks to a donation by a local hunter.
This is a great place to go with friends as all the dishes are perfect when shared. A salad with mounds of thin cut crunchy potatoes piled on top is a favorite. It is a rare time we go and don’t order the gorgonzola pizza - perfectly crispy and barely topped but so tasty. The fried chicken is always perfect and this time around we had a deep fried mackerel served with grated radish which again was simple but delicious.
It is not a big restaurant, with a few tables at the front and some private tatami spaces in the rear, and the homely feel comes across in the food too. As each dish comes to the table you know it has just come out of the pan and you’d better get in quick, as with food this good it is not going to last long. (I meant to take more photos but ravenous family were far too quick.) Kaburaki is a great, laid back dining experience.