I visit a shrine at the foot of Mt. Fuji once a year. Last year, when I visited the shrine by highway bus from Tokyo, I happened to see a very long line of people waiting in front of Fujikyu Kawaguchiko Station. I took out my smartphone and recorded the name of the restaurant, which turned out to be Houtou Fudo, a restaurant with four branches in the Kawaguchiko area.
I promised myself, “If there is a restaurant with such a long line, next year I will go there…” I went home and checked on the Internet. So, let’s go to the main restaurant first! So, with enough time to spare after this year’s visit, I decided to go to the Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop…
Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop is a huge store consisting of three buildings: the main building, annex, and store… Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop is like..
As I walked from the nearest bus stop toward Hoto Fudo Kawaguchiko Kitamoto Store, I noticed in the distance that a considerable crowd had gathered. I could vaguely imagine that this was the destination, but as I approached the restaurant, I was a bit surprised to see that the place where the crowd was gathered was a huge warehouse-like building…
When I arrived at the restaurant at around 12:30 p.m., there were more than 30 people waiting in line… Although the restaurant is located in an inconvenient area about 20 minutes by bus from the nearest station, it was as crowded as the Kawaguchiko Ekimae branch. Now, how long is the waiting time from this point until we are shown to our seats? While I was spending my time thinking, “The restaurant seems to have a large seating area, and with the early turnover, I may be guided into the restaurant surprisingly quickly,” about 10 minutes later, I suddenly heard…
Guests who line up from here to here, I will take you to the annex!by a clerk
The waiter’s loud voice echoed, and the first 20 or so customers, including myself, were ushered into a building at the back of the restaurant. This annex is also spacious, with seating space that could easily accommodate more than 100 people with table and tatami room seating in a folk art style space… Perhaps this space was designed to accommodate groups of customers such as students on school trips. It seems that the restaurant opened the annex, which is not usually used, to the public because it was so crowded that day.
In fact, Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop is a U-shaped building as shown in the map above, with building (1) being the main building that houses the kitchen and restrooms, building (2) being the annex that seems to be a seating area for group customers, and building (3) being the store that sells local crafts. According to Tabelog, Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop has an astonishing 300 seats, including (1) the main building and (2) the annex! Since both the main building and the annex are spacious anyway, all the waitstaff are running around the restaurant (no, they are really running around with pots to serve to customers. I guess that is indeed “bad”…). The restaurant is always shouting in a manner reminiscent of an izakaya (Japanese style pub), and I think it is more like a battlefield for the staff than a restaurant….
How was it to try Houtou, a traditional local dish of Yamanashi, at Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop?
Let me introduce the signature dish I ordered at Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop on that day. I mean, looking at the menu of the restaurant, there are only side dishes and drinks other than houtou, so almost all customers who come to the restaurant will order this houtou…
After about 10 minutes of waiting, the Houtou, a traditional local dish of Yamanashi prefecture, was brought to me in a rather large iron pot. Of course, this is for one person. It is so large that even an adult might not be able to eat it all. Needless to say, the iron pot is very hot, so be careful not to burn yourself by touching it unexpectedly. Please be careful, especially if you are with small children.
Let’s start with the dashi broth… It is a light broth made with white miso, and has a very gentle taste because of its low salt content. However, it is not only light in flavor, but the soup stock is also well infused with the various vegetables that are stewed together as ingredients.
Can you tell from the picture above what kind of noodles are in this broth? The thickness of the noodle is about 2 to 3 times thicker than Ramen Jiro‘s Noodles. They look wild, but in fact, their smooth surface is very pleasant to the palate. The noodles are frizzy, so they absorb the broth very well. At the beginning, the noodles have a firm texture and release the aroma of wheat as you bite into them, and in the latter half of the meal, you can enjoy the change in texture as the noodles absorb a moderate amount of broth and become glutinous.
And the vegetables in this pot were carrots, onions, pumpkins…I think there were about eight kinds in all, including wild vegetables. There is no meat or fish in this dish, so even vegan-minded people can eat it safely. And when you put these ingredients in your mouth and bite into them, the aroma of sesame seeds wafts into your nose. Are they stir-fried in sesame oil before simmering in the soup stock? This aroma that wafts in from time to time is indescribably good…
If you feel like you want a little more stimulation, we recommend adding the store’s special shichimi (seven spices). It is quite spicy, so be careful not to put too much, but if you do, the refreshing aroma of yuzu (Japanese citron) will be added to the broth, and it will be like a very high quality miso soup. If you like spicy food, you should definitely try it as a taste change in the second half of the dish!
Other food menu items at Hoto Fudo Kawaguchiko Kitamoto Branch (prices include tax)
- Horse sashimi: 1,210 yen
- Inari sushi 520 yen
- Stewed pork cutlet 520 yen
- Pickles 630 yen
- Rice 330 yen
- Fudo’s Miso Chashu-Pork 660 yen
Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop is accessible from the nearest station, Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyu Line, by Fujikyu Bus bound for Kofu Station North Exit, getting off at the Kawaguchiko Museum bus stop and walking 4 minutes.
In addition to the Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop, there are four other Houtou Fudo restaurants: Kawaguchiko Minami, Kawaguchiko Ekimae, and Higashi Koji. Since they currently only have branches in the Kawaguchiko area, they are a must when you go sightseeing in Kawaguchiko. The Higashi Koji branch in particular is popular for its storefront, which was designed and built by a famous architect, and which does not look like a houtou restaurant. If you bring small children with you, they will probably be delighted by the atmosphere of the restaurant.
Now, here are the details of the store. Restaurant data is below…
Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Kita Head Shop Out of 5
Address: 707 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0304
Phone number: 0555-76-7800
Business hours: 11:00-19:00 (close when sold out)
Closed: Open every day
Credit card payment: Not accepted (cash only)