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he other night a friend and I decided to try out the “Harapeko” meal coupon for the first time. The ticket is sold at various places around Beppu however we bought our tickets at Tokiwa`s first floor ticket sales counter. After purchasing the tickets we then received a map of all the locations of the shops participating in the “Harapeko” meal coupon program as well as descriptions of the shop and a picture of the food we would receive upon showing the ticket. One ticket costs 2000 yen and comes with a meal that is preselected by the shops manager or chef and it also comes with an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink as well. It is easy for visitors to Japan to use as you don’t need to know Japanese to order food and enjoy good Japanese food.
Anyway, after purchasing the tickets we decided upon three shops to visit and since we thought it would be better to try three places rather than one or two we decided to split the food that came with the ticket at each place.
The first place we went to was “Antoki no izakaya shuu” which means amazing tavern in English. After leaving Tokiwa we walked a little bit towards Beppu station and took a left on a fairly lively street and we walked for about 30 seconds and soon arrived at a small chic building with “Anotki no Izakaya Shuu” written in Japanese on the store front. We then entered and were greeted warmly by a friendly soft female voice “Irashaimase”, after that we were given the option of sitting at the bar or at a small table on a “zabuton” a Japanese style cushion. Since our party was small compared to others there, we decided to sit at the bar and also there was the benefit of being able to watch the chef in action if we sat at the bar.
Shortly after getting situated at the bar we announced our reason for coming to the shop to the chef and handed him the Harapeko ticket. He took the ticket and right away went to work. The female waiter asked us what kind of drink we wanted and we ordered a beer. Since only one drink came with the ticket my friend ordered another drink as well. We ordered two beers and within a minute or so two delicious frothy beers and a small bowl of Edamame came our way. Usually the small dish at an izakaya comes when you are seated this is called an “Otoushi” and serves as a seat charge. This small dish was included in the Harapeko ticket price so we didn’t have to worry about the seat charge. We then said “cheers” and took our first drink of the night.
We chatted with each other for a while waiting in anticipation for the food to come. After several minutes of fast movements the chef dished out a delicious looking “Toriten” which is lightly friend chicken and “Ryukyuu” a sashimi dish. We took our first bite and both looked at each other and said “Umai”! We then tried the Ryukyu and again looked at each other and said “Umai”. Simply put, the food and beer were amazing! We will defiantly go back there again sometime. Since the place started to get a bit busy we decided to finish our food a bit quickly and go to the next restaurant. Before leaving we paid for our one drink and complemented the chef.
The next place we went to was called Italian restaurant Grappa. Grappa is a famous alcoholic beverage from Italy that is strong and potent. We however didn’t go for the Grappa but for the pizza! We arrived after a 5 minute walk and the store front was beautifully designed with two great big windows so we could see into the store. We entered and immediately noticed the large wine collection and the Italian theme of the store. The place is quite large and there are many tables to choose from however just like the last place we had visited we decided to sit at the bar. We were greeted warmly by a waiter and the chef. We talked about Harapeko and then shortly handed over the ticket. This time we had the choice of two drinks and a pizza. I ordered a Guinness beer and my friend ordered an Italian wine. The drinks came soon after and we again said “cheers” and took a gulp of our drinks. This time there was no Otoushi that was served to us as this place resembled more of a restaurant than an izakaya. It was delicious and my friend thought the same about their drink as well.
After several minutes of talking to the chef and waiter we selected the “Pizza Napolitano” from a list of about 10 kinds of different pizzas and the chef went straight away to the back and began making it. We chatted some more with the waiter and then before we knew it a thin crusted appetizing pizza was served to us. The chef placed it in front of us and we both picked up a slice and before eating it enjoyed the delicious smell of anchovies and cheese and took a bite. We looked at each other and then at the chef and said “Umai”. The flavor was exquisite and the quality was that of an Italian pizzeria in Italia. We finished the pizza fairly quickly and noticed a large cured ham. We asked about it and then decided to try it. The chef cut around 6 thin slices then poured an Italian olive oil over it and served it to us. The flavor was out of this world good and we immediately wanted to order more after we quickly finished it. We chatted a bit more then finished our drinks paid for the ham and left.
The next place we went to was “Dragon Chuubou” which means Dragon kitchen in English and specializes in Chinese fusion cuisine. We arrived after about 6 minutes of walking and soon entered a building with red lights and Chinese decorations hanging in the store. We entered and were immediately greeted by the friendly waiter. We again decided to sit at the bar and told the waiter about Harapeko. We noticed the nice selection of Japanese and Chinese alcohol as well. We then met the chef and talked for a bit after handing over the Harapeko ticket. He then disappeared in the back. At this shop one drink and a sample platter of various kinds of Chinese cuisine comes with the order. We ordered two beers again said “cheers” and enjoyed our drink slowly as the chef prepared out meal. This time we were not able to see in the back of the restaurant but could enjoy the nice ambiance of the shop. It was decorated nicely with Chinese goods. We chatted and after about 10 minutes our food came out from the back. There was chili shrimp, fried rice, Chinese styled egg omelet, stir-fried pork, and fried chicken.
It was very delicious however at that point we were very full but we were able to finish all the food and thank the chef and pay for the extra drink that we ordered. It was a really good deal and we were both satisfied as we left the store.
Overall the experience was very enjoyable and we were able to try out many different places with the Harapeko ticket. If anyone visits Beppu they should try the Harapeko meal coupon experience at least once. It can be especially advantageous for those who want to be adventurous and try a local restaurant in Beppu.
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