I wish I could remember her name....oh...Ayako. This string bean bikini(skinny Japanese girl) pulls me over to the side today to tell me how much she disliked one of my choices in restaurants. The restaurant I recommended to her was in her own city and was even popular amongst the locals there, except her!
There's a place in Odawara, a micro urban city located on the outskirts of Kanagawa Prefecture, where there's a type of hidden gem of a restaurant called Sanpei( san-pay), which specializes in Western style fried chicken. It's rare to see such a place offering such a food dish like oily super crispy fried chicken, especially in the land of wabi-sabi and healthy food where anything oily gets condemned as junk food.
When I think of American-style fried chicken, words like crispy, juicy, oily, and salty spring to mind. Sanpei's fried chicken is that, plus more! It's really one of kind and a refreshing blast from the past when sinking my teeth into each and every bite. Only true food geeks would travel as far as Odawara just to eat this chicken. The only way to get here is by car!
At Sanpei, they have their own farm where they raise chicks up until they turn 3 or 4 month old, butcher them, halve them and prep them, then flour and fry them to order, nothing is pre-cooked, everything is made to order.
How I stumbled across this joint was through several popular food magazines that showcased this restaurant as having a very unique and flavorsome kind of chicken. So, knowing me, the onsen, food, and sake geek I took a trip down there and went to heaven. Luckily for me, since Hakone is just next door to Odawara, made it even more appealing to even drive down there. I have since taken a couple of females there on two separate occasions to enjoy a nice onsen and then a sumptuous chicken dinner. All of them liked it and still crave more of it to this day.
Throngs of people fill this place up almost every night it seems, and they sell out of chicken almost every night. So many people love this little joint that serves this super delicious and super crispy and super oily fried chicken. Yes, it's the most oily fried chicken I have had since living in Japan, but it's damn good.
Just cause' this lady is underfed and unhealthy and who is super silly and super sensitive to oily food doesn't mean the chicken was bad. Some oily foods taste good, fried chicken is one of them, she either needs a tongue transplant or maybe a head check-up. Bottom line is is that people eat all different types of food, some healthy, some not healthy. Many oily foods like pizza and chicken just taste plain old good just as they are, oily.
I look at the numbers, I look at the people, I look at the ratings, I see the lines and the repeat customers who come back again and again. People from Odawara and further north come from far and wide to enjoy this chicken.
Ayako then comes back and offers me a recommendation for a chicken dish called chicken nanban チキン南蛮, which she claims tasteｓ better than my recommendation, here:
Now, chicken nanban is a local favorite of Kyushu and Miyazaki prefectures whereas Sanpei's chicken is an experiment in eclecticism by not following traditional styles of cooking. The two dishes simply cannot be compared; one is a regional favorite and the other one is a Western concoction that wound up tasting very good.
In the video you can see a decent spread. All of the little dishes were excellent and so was the chicken nanban! I also ordered some nihonshu. The sake in the vid is called Tsurugi 剣 and it's brewed by Hou Biden of Tochigi prefecture. It was a super dry 辛口 type and it complemented the juiciness in the the chicken and the yoghurt sauce that was used as a topping over the chicken. All-and-all, a nice dish. I would definitely recommend it.
There's a place in the Collette-Mare in Sakuragicho that sells chicken nanban called gin no tsubura or 銀のつぶら on the sixth floor. No English is spoken. The set I ordered in the vid was a lunch set, sake was additional, so I wound up paying 1800 yen for lunch and was very satisfied. Sanpei's for maniacs who like bold and heavy tastes like myself.