Perhaps it is because you never forget your first love. Perhaps fond memories have a strong association with our cravings.
Whenever I go to Karuizawa, there are only a few places I go to for food even though there is no lack of food options.
If I were to get eat Karuizawa in a day, this is how I would allocate my stomach space :
Lets start with the meal I have a bad habit of skipping, but will jump out of bed in the mornings and skip happily out the door for.
Breakfast from Asanoya on Ginza Dori.
It is pretty crowded in the mornings. Both the local people and Japanese tourists seem to flock over here to grab breakfast and I certainly see why. The bread is pretty amazing. One of their top 3 specialities is blueberry bread (Karuizawa has great blueberries, but I already said that) my personal fave is An Donutsu fresh, fluffy, non-greasy, soft donut with powder sugar sprinkled on it and red bean paste inside.
Asanoya also sells cream croquette that are really good. As with their donuts, the croquettes are done very well. Although deep fried, the croquettes do not feel greasy or too rich at all, yet you still have that wonderful crispy, golden brown, fine batter that make that wonderful sound when you teeth break into it and lap up the creamy goodness. I guess this is why they often tell me that to be able to fry or deep fry well takes a real skill. The quality of oil used has to be good too so well made fried food is possibly pricier than average. Asanoya is reasonable though, competitive prices for a bakery.
Crab cream croquette is my personal recommendation.
There is a counter at the side of the shop where one can enjoy one’s breakfast while watching the pretty street go about it’s business.
Skip ahead to dinner.
Right round the corner from Asanoya is perhaps the best Yakitori place I have ever visited.
This place… Always a line. They have a lot of rules, no photographs, no kids, no…
Afternoon snack – Moving further down on Ginza Dori is an old school Dango and Soba shop.
I remember this shop as the ‘amaizake’ (sweet rice wine) shop. Yes, I was stupid-excited to finally find good amaizake.
I visited a lot less in the summer when it was too warm to have hot rice wine, no matter how delicious I find it to be. Towards the end of summer though I rekindled my affair with a traditional snack session at this place. This is a typical mochi set along with the very sexy warm, sweet rice wine.
One of the known dishes of Karuizawa is Soba (Buckwheat Noodles) and during the hot summer, nothing satiates like Zaru Soba (cold buckwheat noodles) with side dishes of Karuizawa mountain vegetables, pieces of stewed pork and fish. One of the soba spots I like is Kawakami-an Karuizawa Soba.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised that during the summer, the full length windows are wide open allowing the normally indoor part of the restaurant to have an almost alfresco feeling to it. There is also an outdoor dining area here.
Train Ride Home!
The Karuizawa ekiben (train station bento) is perhaps my fave of all the train station food Ive ever had. When you take the train out to wherever it is that you are heading, pick one of these up for 900 yen. *I saw it for 1000 yen in other parts of Nagano.
Some honorary mentions :
Karuizawa has a good selection of Karuizawa brewed beer. I particularly like the dark beer.
There is some pretty good sausages and cold cuts in Karuizawa town as well. Good for a picnic or a quick snack.
So there you have it.
Like I said there are lot of food spots in Karuizawa so feel free to explore and leave me a comment!