Mizushima is not a pretty place. This part of my wife’s home town of Kurashiki is down right ugly to be honest with you.  Mizushima is the home of JFE steel mill, Mitsubishi and Asahi Kasei just to name a few.  On the border of this industrial wasteland, lay the commercial center of Mizushima with its main street that hasn’t seen any revitalisation plan since the Edo period.  Yet, I found the chinese restaurant Toraya amid a sea of seedy snack bars.

I am in heaven and it’s only 10 min from my wife’s house!

It all started with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law telling me about a great meal they had in a really cheap chinese restaurant in the center of Mizushima. Once again, their argumention was simple: super amazing food, super cheap and really really dirty restaurant.

Japan is so clean in general, that I always seek these crusty places, maybe it’s a reminder of my hometown chinese joints whom can barely pass the health code but churn out amazing meals almost 365 days a year.  Who has the time to clean when you cook so much?

The restaurant is dated like the whole center of Mizushima, yet the table is clean, the dinning area is clean and they bring us hot towels as soon as we walk in.  With my back to the wall, I can see the whole dinning area and I really like what I am seeing. The restaurant is packed on a Saturday and most of the customers are factory workers on their lunch break. I have a special affection for places packed with working men. No pretensions, no fuss, it’s about the taste and the fast service.

I ordered a Set A, sweet and sour pork and a wonton soup.

The wonton soup was nothing to write home about, but my set menu tasted better than what it looked on the plate.

The set menu was a mix of veggies and shrimps in a thick sauce, pork balls, sliced pork, a small salad, a simple soup and white rice.  The pork balls were crispy on the outside and the sauce was rich and spicy.

The sweet and sour pork was also very well executed.  The pork was done perfectly and the veggies were fresh and crunchy.

My wife ordered the yakisoba

The yakisoba looked really bland, but the taste was surprising, it had nothing to do with the regular Japanese yakisoba taste.  The sauce was lighter and more complex than what I expected from this ever popular dish.  I had a bite of it before my wife ate the whole thing.

Toraya (???) is one of these restaurant where I wish to become a regular and I will go back soon to try the other stuff on the menu.

If you ever go anywhere near the center Mizushima, visit this restaurant and enjoy the quality and the simplicity of this busy institution. There is a parking for those who drive and it was full, always a good sign.

Click here to see a map

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