By Takayuki Narumi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterISHINOMAKI, Iwate — As you enter a restaurant near the city government office building in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, a poster promoting a local fried noodle dish, Ishinomaki yakisoba, is sure to catch your eye.
The local specialty is the best-selling dish at Fujiya Shokudo, one of the local restaurants with a long history of serving the pan-fried noodles.
The restaurant opened in 1945. Taichi Endo, 67, the restaurant’s second-generation owner, took over the restaurant from his parents when his father suffered a stroke. In the wake of his father’s illness, Taichi returned to his home city upon graduating from university and began working in the restaurant.
In the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the restaurant building was flooded and seriously damaged. About two months later, Taichi was hospitalized when he suffered a brain-stem hemorrhage. As there seemed to be no one to succeed him in the restaurant business at the time, Taichi was about to give up on it.
In those days, his eldest daughter, Saeka, now 35, was living in a shelter as she had also suffered in the disaster. Saeka met a fellow disaster survivor who told her, “I want to eat Fujiya Shokudo’s yakisoba,” and expressed a strong desire for the restaurant to open again.
Saeka became determined to reopen the restaurant and carry on the family business. Though Taichi had been hovering between life and death, he steadily recovered from his illness.
Later, Masatoshi Nakamura, a 66-year-old actor who was one of Taichi’s best friends when they were students together at Ishinomaki High School, visited the city.
Nakamura encouraged Taichi by telling him, “Please cook yakisoba again.” It gave Taichi another boost of enthusiasm.
Saeka played a leading role in resuming the business. She and her family cleaned up the inside of the tsunami-hit restaurant and procured the necessary food items.
In September 2011, half a year after the disaster, they reopened the restaurant.
The main characteristic of Ishinomaki yakisoba is the cooking process. The noodles are steamed twice until their color becomes brownish and then stir-fried with dashi soup.
No sauce is used while cooking the noodles. But there are bottles of sauce on the tables, and customers often pour it over the noodles just before they eat them.
Taichi, who was trained in a Japanese cuisine restaurant, makes the dashi soup using kelp, katsuobushi (dried bonito) and niboshi (small dried sardines), and the sauce is prepared by blending several kinds that are only available to restaurants.
The noodles’ plump texture and the flavors of the dashi and the sauce are a good combination. One recommendation is the “tokusei” (special) yakisoba, which contains meat, vegetables and egg and costs ¥700.
Saeka said, “I’ll continue to serve this traditional taste that I inherited from my grandparents.”
Address: 2-6-17 Tachimachi, Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture
Open: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. but closes earlier if the day’s noodles run out. Closes irregularly.