On a recent visit to Japan we found ourselves visiting the Floating Tori tourist attraction on Miyajima Island, which is a 40 minute journey from Hiroshima station. When doing some research on the area we found that seafood was a particular speciality of the area and specifically local oysters or eel (anago) rice. When I looked for restaurants on the island I came across Fujitaya in the Michelin guide, which has been awarded one Michelin star. Given Fujitaya had been rated top on the island we decided to give it a try!
Fujitaya is located on a side street in the main town on Miyajima. I’d suggest looking it up on Google maps before visiting, but it can fairly easily be found from the exit to the main Itsukushima Shrine from where it is a 2 minute walk. The restaurant only has a sign in Japanese so I used Google street-view to look at the outside of the building, but it can be seen in my pictures below. It’s actually the only restaurant on this street, so not particularly difficult to find! One thing you can see is a large yellow banner on the roof that makes it stand out.
The restaurant is no reservations and opens at 11am and closes once the days catch has been sold. We arrived early at around 10.50am and found we were the third party in the queue behind 5 other people. The restaurant has seats for around 24 people, with 2 people normally being sat at the counter and 4 people at tatami mat tables. On arrival you need to put your name on the table list, which acts as the ‘queue’ for the restaurant. There is a small seating area next to the restaurant to wait in when busy. Personally I’d recommend getting there just before 11 to guarantee your seat – it’s a long way to go if you miss out!
Inside the restaurant is very traditional Japanese. You enter through a sliding wooden door and sit at Japanese style counters or tables. The restaurant is really tiny and everyone sits in a very small area. There is a small internal courtyard garden inside the restaurant that leads to the kitchen and private room (we didn’t see inside this, but can allegedly hold 30 people). The toilets are located in the courtyard and are fairly basic squat affairs, so if you can’t cope with this there is a toilet 2 minutes walk away in the Itsukushima Shrine to go to beforehand.
We were seated at the counter just after 11am. You are immediately presented with a cup of hot, green tea. Given the Michelin star I’d expected this to be very high end tea, and while it was nice, it wasn’t anything different to what I’d had elsewhere. After the tea your order is taken. There is only one dish; eel rice served with pickles and a clear broth. The staff didn’t really speak English but a simple hand gesture of the amount of people was enough for us!
The eel is grilled freshly to order so you actually have to wait a little while until your order arrives. We were third into the restaurant and waited around 20 minutes for the other two orders to arrive and ours to be prepared. The waitress brought our order out with the eel rice contained in a highly ornate, colourful, china bowl with a wooden lid to keep the food warm. The meal also comes with a small plate of pickles (purple and green for us on our day) and a small lacquer bowl of clear lemon and chive flavoured soup with a fresh scallop floating inside. If you need anymore tea throughout the meal your cup will be refilled. You can also order other drinks (sake, beer or soft drinks mainly) if you prefer.
The smell as you open the lid and reveal your eel rice is amazing. The eel is neatly lined up on top of the rice and a lovely fragrant sauce covers the eel. The eel was grilled to perfection, moist and tasty! The rice is also cooked well with the grains falling apart from each other (which does make it a little tricky to get the remains from the bowl at the end). The pickles nicely complement the eel and the broth was simply an amazingly clear taste. Ultimately this is a very simple meal cooked amazingly well – we had no complaints and happily polished everything off!
The cost of the each meal is 2,300 Yen or approximately £17 GBP. For the quality of the food and experience we really enjoyed this, although you can obviously get the same meal elsewhere on Miyajima for a cheaper price. We were massively excited before arriving at the restaurant and didn’t go away disappointed. I’m really glad we arrived early as the queue continued to be fairly large for the rest of the afternoon. This was our first Michelin star outside the UK and also our first in a speciality restaurant which is not high-end or stuffy. If we’re lucky enough to return to Miyajima in the future, we will definitely return!