By Toshimasa Kashiwagi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterTOKUSHIMA — At a corner near JR Tokushima Station stands a restaurant illuminated by 20 lanterns bearing the names of famous groups that have performed at Awa Odori, a local festival known for its dynamic dancing.
One evening, attracted by the lights, I entered the Ikko Tokushima Ekimae-ten restaurant. I was greeted by sizzling sounds and a mouthwatering aroma emanating from an iron plate holding pieces of freshly roasted chicken. The restaurant uses a local variety of chicken called Awa Odori that was developed 30 years ago by the Tokushima prefectural government.
The bodies of Awa Odori chickens are larger than those of standard varieties — its thighs are about 1.5 times bigger — and the meat they produce is full of flavor.
Ikko opened in the city 21 years ago specializing in Awa Odori chicken. I visited an outpost that opened in February last year near Tokushima Station.
Ikko’s signature menu item is Honetsuki Awa Odori, or roasted chicken thigh on the bone (¥1,186 before tax). The meat is marinated in a blend of 17 spices and seasonings before being roasted for 20 minutes at about 400 C in an oven specially designed for the restaurant.
Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the meat has a delightful texture and a rich flavor enhanced by the signature seasoning.
Ikko Tokushima Ekimae-ten manager Masato Tameyuki, 32, was enchanted by the dish when he first tried it as a customer 11 years ago, and the encounter eventually made him decide to become a cook.
Awa Odori features in other menu items, such as mizutaki hot pot for ¥1,580 before tax, and liver served with negi green onions and sesame oil for ¥650 before tax. Of the chargrilled options available, Tameyuki highly recommended a plate of chicken neck.
The restaurant is visited by tourists from around the country and overseas as diners flock to feast on Awa Odori, which is now one of the nation’s most popular chicken varieties.
“I want to promote the flavor [of a local specialty] that Tokushima Prefecture is proud of to other countries,” Tameyuki said.
Ikko Tokushima Ekimae-ten
Open: 5 p.m. to midnight
Closed most Tuesdays
Address: 3-12-8 Terashimahoncho-Higashi, Tokushima
Phone: (088) 678-5995
English menu available
Credit cards accepted
To find out more about Japan’s attractions, visit http://the-japan-news.com/news/d&d