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Monday, October 3, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Hakurakuten 白楽天 焼豚玉子飯

Visited 21.11.2014

The former Kinuyama branch.
B grade gourmet. Was excited to know that Ehime Prefecture has a galore of B grade gourmet. One food caught my attention right away - roasted pork and egg rice bowl, which reminded me of char siew rice we eat at home. This dish was first created by a Chinese restaurant in Imabari city as a boarding meal for its employees. When Hakurakuten was established in 1970, the owner decided to elevate the status of this simple home-cooked rice bowl by incorporating it into its menu. The dish first became popular with students as the restaurant was located near a high school. Popularity grew over the years by word of mouth and has put this rice bowl onto the B grade gourmet list of Ehime; a "soul" food that the locals can naturally associate to Imabari city. Here in Imabari, which is home to ship building industry, there are numerous restaurants serving this dish and each has their very own version/interpretation of what a delicious bowl of roasted pork and egg rice is, which in turn has generated food diversity for customers. Do check out the gourmet map that the Imabari roasted pork and egg rice association (今治焼豚玉子飯 世界普及委員会) has came out with! Website: http://i-ytm.com/

Appetising bowl of rice.
Soul food. Back to the story of the photo which made me drooled. Eager to eat but I could not fully convince myself to travel all the way to Imabari city, which is about 40 mins away by limited express train from Matsuyama JR Station, for just one single bowl of rice. Discovered later that Hakurakuten has a branch in Kinuyama, which was just two train stations away from Matsuyama city (by Iyo Railway) and without further ado I made the decision to drop by here for lunch. Ordered the regular sized rice bowl which came with two nicely fried bright orange sunny side up eggs laid on top of roasted pork slices drizzled with a sweet and savory sauce [650 yen]. Followed the recommended way to enjoy this rice bowl. Divided into two portions, ate the first portion by breaking and mixing the yolk with rice, and repeated the steps for the other portion. Every component of the rice bowl shines and complements each other harmoniously. Roasted pork had a good proportion of fats with good caramelisation on the sides. The delicious sauce cut down the oiliness of the meat and enhanced the overall taste of this rice bowl. Sunny side up eggs were cooked to perfection and stirring the runny egg yolk with rice is a comfort food at its simplest for many Japanese. This is what I will term as a simple yet heavenly taste! All of us agreed that this is one soul food that exceeded our expectations tremendously and definitely one that we will return for. 

Beautiful slices of roasted pork hidden beneath the eggs! 
Note. Sad to know that the branch in Kinuyama has ceased operation when I was compiling this post. For those who want to taste this flavourful rice bowl, you will have to travel further to the flagship restaurant located in Imabari city.  

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Hakurakuten 白楽天 焼豚玉子飯 今治本店
愛媛県今治市常盤町4-1-19 (Imabari city)
Opening hrs: 1100 - 1500 hrs (Lunch); 1700 - 2200 hrs (Dinner)
About 8 minutes walk from Imabari JR Station.

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Video. Scroll to 11:33 to view the feature on Hakurakuten. 

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