By MiNa Kim
This restaurant review will be featuring somewhere close to home and especially close to my heart. Located in the humble town of Gonohe, Karakara-tei is a small family restaurant with its menu specializing in rice and and ramen dishes.
The building itself looks quite old on the inside. With a slight yellow tinge on the walls, and worn out menu signs, it’s evident that Karakara-tei has been standing in its location for quite some time. Many might say it’s a hole in the wall (I totally did), but like most hole in the wall eateries, the taste is on point.
The menu offered is quite extensive, ranging from assorted cha-han (fried rice), donburi (rice topped with various dishes), ramen, curry, and gyozas to other Japanese classics such as yakisoba, omu-rice, and udon. During weekday lunches, all the set meals (tei-shoku) come with a free coffee or tea.
A lot of the food here is quite simple and straightforward. No strange mixtures of ingredients or fancy dishes with difficult names. Personally, it’s like a home cooked meal or comfort food made by some dude I don’t know but I’m gonna pretend is my dad. Had a bad day? Eat an omu-rice. Feeling like a day to treat yourself? Tonkatsu tei-shoku. Just want a stupid amount of food? Katsu curry and ramen set. They’ve got it all. However, the best part for me would be that everything I’ve ever had at this restaurant has been mind-blowingly good. Also, the majority of the menu here is under 800yen.
For dessert, there is “premium ice”, the premium of all premium soft serve ice cream for 300 yen. You can have it in a cone, or if you choose to eat it there, you can choose to have it served in a cup with your choice of strawberry syrup, blueberry syrup, or caramel.
The restaurant can easily accommodate 1-6. Bigger parties can be accommodated, but you will have to sit separately. There are chairs and tatami seats available. Also, I have asked to modify my dishes a couple of times and each time, it has bewildered the lady who takes orders, so I’ve learned that it’s best to just eat the menu as is. However, if it is just actual meat being taken out (vs dashi or something), they’re happy to accommodate your needs.
Also like many family-owned places, they still allow smoking indoors and although I haven’t had to deal with secondhand smoke too often there, for those which this is a deal breaker, be aware that it is still a possibility that an old grandpa might light up post-meal.
Pros- cheap, delicious, variety of choices
Cons- smoking environment, menu a bit unmodifiable