Sugizen in Ike - big prawn fry
The entrance of Sugizen. A big and a small ceramic raccoons with big nuts are welcoming guests. They are simbols of earning money.
Sugizen is a sort of hideout. It is not a restaurant you can find by chance, because Sugizen is not located in any of the main roads in Ito and Izukogen. It is in a part of Ike, a small village which was until recently isolated from the hustle of Ito and main roads.
Ike means pond or lake and in fact there once existed a lake which was reclaimed during the feudal time and flood control was a difficult problem for a long time. Until recently, people could reach Ike only through narrow passages either from Izukogen, a popular resort area with country villas, or from Oomuro-yama, a beautifully shaped volcano. Only a few years ago, a relatively wide street was built between Ike and the nearby National Route 135 and Ike came to be used as a shortcut to Izu Skyline.
Sugizen is located in a quiet street connecting the center of Ike and the villas of Izukogen. The road which passes by Sugizen is always very quiet. I wonder why a restaurant can be operated in such a remote area. But, I love this location.
Handmade hanging "hina", the specialty of Inatori near Ito, is the interior decoration of Sugizen.
Sugizen has four separate tatami rooms. Guests can relax themselves on tatami mats. Those who are not good at sitting on the floor do not have to be scared, as one of them has horigotatsu and guests can stretch legs comfortably!
I find it interesting that deep frying seems to constitute the main part of their menu,
for example tonkatsu and mixed fries, because most of the restaurants in Ito appeal to guests with their fish menus and this latter strategy is very natural and usual on the coastal area of Izu.
Anyhow, the most recommendable menu of Sugizen is its mixed-fry set menu including a small pork fillet, a white meat fish fillet, a crab's nipper and a large prawn. The size of prawn is indeed impressive! Fries are crispy and delicious with tonkatsu sauce. A set menu further includes a small side dish (seasoned konjak), a steamed egg custard (chawan-mushi), a miso soup, pickles, a cup of rice and a dessert.
An example of set menu - grilled barracuda
Mix fry - The biggest one is prawn
Simmered scorpion fish (small size)
Provincial restaurants tend to offer a large quantity of food, presumably so as to compensate their relatively expensive prices. I believe that they need such a policy, because they have to earn the maximum profit from each guest in light of the limited number of guests. But, the volume and price of Sugizen are acceptable.
Of course, Sugizen offers not only fried prawn or pork but also sashimi as well as grilled or simmered fish. Simmered fish is my favorite dish and I order this scorpion fish. The seasoning is rather sweet but tasty, and the fish is very fresh.
I am now a repeater of Sugizen and want to recommend it as a comfortable and satisfactory restaurant in the suburbs of Ito.