Saturday, June 26, 2010

What to eat in Kamakura: Doria and Curry Beef Stew

While my sister and I were travelling in Kamakura, Japan, a town famous for the great Buddha statue, Daibutsu. We were enroute from Kita-Kamakura station to Engakuji temple.  Along the way, we stumbled upon a small cute cafe shop called Cafe Sakura.  Starving and enticed by their photo of green tea mont blanc, we decided to go in and check it out.  The shop is small but very cozy and inviting with outside patio.  Decorated in white with lace and flower arrangements, there are few tables and they were all filled.  I noticed very high customer turnover during the course that we were there.  The shop does attract lots of passerby's on the street. There are only 2 women working there.  I assumed they are co-owners, one works in the kitchen and one serves and helps out in the kitchen.  There are only 2 entrees offered in the menu, doria (1,300 yen), baked rice in cream sauce and parmesan, and curry beef stew served with rice.  In the beginning, my sister and I ordered one doria to share (as a snack before lunch) since we saw their portion is fairly big.  While we were waiting, we couldn't help but glance over at the 2 ladies sitting beside us cleaning out their curry stew plate.  As we observed more around us, curry beef stewed is ordered at every table.  We realized what was needed to be done and ordered the curry.
We waited for about 20 minutes for each dish to arrive.  As we looked over, we could see the kitchen and the ladies working hard to carefully craft each order.  It was really nice to see much attention paid to each dish being served.  Once the doria arrived, I didn't hesitate to dig my spoon in and taste the creamy, cheesy baked rice.  It tasted just as good as it looked.  The rice was well seasoned with the right cream consistency.  I felt like I was eating risotto.  The mushroom and shrimp added texture and complement well.  I was about half way done with the doria when the giant plate of curry beef stew (1,000 yen) arrived.  We were arguing that we have overdone ourselves.

I waited for my sister to take the first bite, and when she did, she was silent.  Her eyes may have rolled back a little bit.  "Well, how is it?" I asked. Her reply was "It's simply the best curry stew I've ever had in my life!" Of course, I jumped in and scoop a generous amount of rice and a chunk of beef in my mouth.  My palette went into overdrive as savoury and bold flavours spread all over my mouth, blending in perfect harmony with Japanese rice.  I'm not usually a fan of beef stew as they are often overcooked and have hard and chewy texture.  This time, the beef was so tender and flaky and there should've been more on the plate.  We ended up clearing both dishes in a short amount of time.  As agreed, we ended our course with a green tea mont blanc (800 yen).  
To be honest, we were both most pleased with the curry beef stew, then the doria.  The green tea mont blanc looked very appealing.  However, we couldn't taste anything else but sweet cream.  The green tea flavour was very faint and there is more cream filling inside.  I found that it was just too heavy.  Perhaps, the original mont blanc would have been a better choice.  Overall, I have to say that this little shop is a hidden gem in Kamakura.  It is a great spot to take a short break from sightseeing just to enjoy a cup of coffee and delicious curry beef stew.