Beppu is not a culinary gem on Japan’s gastronomic map. But if there’s anything the Beppuites can boast about, in addition to Bungo-gyu (豊後牛) or local beef, it is their gyoza (餃子). Gyoza Kogetsu (餃子湖月), tucked away in a tiny alley of the covered shopping arcade across from Beppu Train Station, this mom and pop seven-seater counter shop has been frying some of the best and most crunchy gyoza you will ever find in Kyushu.

I had a hard time trying to locate Gyoza Kogetsu and it was only after circling the shopping arcade thrice and asking the proprietor of a spectacles store that I finally managed to spot this obscure establishment. It’s really tiny, and fitting six people is already a challenge, not to mention seven.

The gyozas are fried upon order, and a 1-person portion will reward you with 30 gyozas. Don’t freak out yet! Because the gyozas are small, an average person can easily polish off 1-and-a-half plate – that’s 45 gyozas!!! And in case you are worried about the oil, the gyozas are so daintily fried that they are crispy without the oil. Kick back on a couple of Sapporos and you won’t even feel the oiliness.

I gobbled down a double portion (i.e. 60 gyozas!!!) And while you’re there, drop by Toyotsune とよ常 (cross the small road in front of the train station, turn left and walk right to the end of the alley) for the abovementioned Beppu specialty – Bungo-gyu (豊後牛) and some superb lovingly fried tempura.   LS


Bubbling Beppu

Beppu is synonymous with onsen, and the higher up you go into the highlands, you literally see steam rising from even drains by the roadside. Eight ‘Hells’ await you and while most of the more exclusive onsen are located in the highlands (i.e. the Myouban area 明礬), some are either too outdated or too exorbitant. For those conscious of budget but still desire a rewarding onsen experience in Beppu, check out Ebisuya Onsen (湯屋えびす), nestled midway between Yama no yu (山の湯) and the main bus stop at the foot of the Myouban hills.

Sometimes, the most rewarding experience can be right at the place you stay. Forget about checking out every atmospheric (think ‘outdated’) onsen, such as the Takegawara Onsen (竹瓦温泉). Yes, this onsen shrine dates back to the Meiji era and all, but for a fabulous onsen experience, it does not offer. Stay at the Nishitetsu Resort Inn in Beppu (西鉄イン別府), and you can soak in an inhouse onsen that is just as incredible as any of the other more exorbitant / outdated / traditional ones out there.   LS

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