It's a feast for eyes, palate at Iwakuni restaurant
If Quentin Tarantino gets a chance to come to Iwakuni, Sanzoku is the one restaurant I’d take him to. It has the over-the-top décor and ambiance that are the hallmark of one of his films.
The many huge Japanese lanterns decorating Sanzoku’s exterior make it almost impossible for anyone to miss it, even from a ways down the road. Such fancy decorations high in the middle of mountainous nowhere make this restaurant very unique.
Sanzoku restaurant is about a 30-minute drive from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. It looks very Japanese, but too much so – in an exaggerated sort of way. It is like a theme-park, featuring a shrine, waterfalls and a statue of Buddha – right inside the restaurant.
This place is huge with a 350-person seating capacity and different areas where you can choose to eat. Outside there are Japanese “kotatsu,” or tables with heaters underneath, for those want to enjoy dining in nature weather permitting or not. Inside, there are rooms decorated with Japanese paper lanterns and suits of samurai armor.
A variety of traditional Japanese toys for children, snacks and souvenirs are also sold outside the restaurant to entertain children and adults alike.
The most popular dish here is the Sanzoku Yaki, (for 630 yen, or about $6), skewered chicken quarters – bone and all – grilled over an open charcoal fire. These hefty hunks of bird are marinated in sweetened soy-based sauce and grilled until perfectly crispy outside and joyously juicy inside. These are very tasty, indeed.
They make their “onigiri,” or rice balls, at this restaurant bigger than the size of my fist; they come filled with salmon, pickled “ume,” or plum, and seaweed. If you like spice, they have a special wasabi rice ball, too. It will surely satisfy you hankering for heat.
Sanzoku also specializes in steak. The beef they used is called Sumeragi beef, which is known for being very tender. For 4,500 yen, this special steak is served sizzling on a hot clay roofing tile.
I highly recommended Sanzoku to anyone (not just Tarantino). The price is reasonable and you can enjoy not only a taste of Japan’s food – but also its culture.