Shukuba No Yu is one of several onsen spas that dot Route 17 between Yuzawa and Naeba. It is right at the base of the Tashiro Ropeway and although it looks pleasant enough, I have never dropped in. I am now ruing the missed opportunities, as this small mountain onsen is hiding a delicious secret.
The onsen itself is pretty typical - clean, a reasonable size with fantastically hot natural spring water, a big rest area and the obligatory massage chairs. There is also a largish gallery displaying the works of a well known artist. All this makes it a great place for a visit, especially if you are coming off the winter ski slopes and are looking for a warming soak. The real magic [for a glutton like me] happens in the nondescript small ramen shop at the back of the building. The place is run by a lady from Thailand who has married a local, and alongside all the ramen shop favorites there is a menu of tasty Thai dishes. You know you are in for something slightly different when you see the display of exotic fruit juices and Thai condiments on sale by the door as you walk in.
I have no excuse for missing this place all these years. On the little window that backs out onto the main road, "red curry" and "green curry" are written in katakana. There are many other dishes apart from these staples on the Thai menu. We had some amazingly spicy pork jerky - crispy and dark brown on the outside with a mouth-tingling kick to it, yet soft in the center. The tom yum soup was a deep red and as spicy as it looked. We also had a dish of celery, prawns and egg which was delicious too. All looked so appetizing that I was half finished before I thought to get a camera out. I would have been happy sampling a few more dishes but was vetoed due to time constraints. No matter though, as we will definitely be heading back. It is about a twenty minute drive from Yuzawa and the food is so good that I am sure it will be a regular pilgrimage for us when we are after some spice.