One of my favorite places in Iwakuni is Sanzoku. Most people call it the Chicken Shack. I have always known it as Sanzoku so the first time I heard "Chicken Shack", I didn't understand why people called it that. I remember thinking, "Sanzoku isn't a difficult word to say." And I never got the "shack" part. I get the "chicken" part because they are known for their chicken on a stick. Shack?? The only thing I can think of is that because it's made out of wood someone decided to call it a shack....?? Am I close? I'm not sure who gave it that name. It's been around for a very long time. I won't say how long because that would, ummmm....kinda give away my age.
Sanzoku is a famous restaurant in Iwakuni. The food is good, but I think a lot of people go for the atmosphere. When they are super busy (like they were tonight) the service is not so fast, but it's worth the wait. There are three parts to this restaurant. They all pretty much serve the same food. The one on the right has a lot of outdoor seating and you place your order at the window in the front before finding your seat.
If you go to the left side, this is more of a full service style restaurant. You find some seats and they will come to you and take your order. There are even three tables inside that allow you to sit as if you were sitting in a chair instead of on your legs. They also have some outdoor seating. It's pretty nice on this side too because there is a little waterfall you can look at and listen to while you eat.
This is also the side where you will find the third restaurant. I call it the party building. Unfortunately, all of the seating is on the floor, but they can accommodate large groups. If you ask, they can provide some low chairs for those who have trouble sitting on the floor. I just love the decor in each section. I would recommend that you sit somewhere different each time you go. My favorite spot is outside when the weather is nice.
Now on to the food. If you go to Sanzoku, you have to try the chicken. That is what they are really famous for. The chicken is grilled on a stick and it has a teriyaki style sauce on it. For those who are not a big fan of teriyaki or can't have it for some other reason, you can order it without sauce and they will just season it with salt for you.
You also have to get the gyoza. I think their gyoza is pretty amazing. Not as good as my mom's gyoza of course, but it's good.
If you are more into beef, you can try the little strips of beef that you cook yourself at the table. They give you a dipping sauce with it that is really good. They also have steaks. I have never tried a steak here, but I have heard from a few people that it is good.
Another popular item on their menu is the Sanzoku Musubi (rice ball). It is pretty big and has three different fillings. You get cooked salmon, seaweed, and some pickled plum.
My brother and my father really like the tofu salad.
I love agedashitofu (fried tofu in a broth) and theirs is really good.
When it is cold out, I always get a mini udon or a mini soba. My children always ordered the udon when they were little. They loved it!
There are lots of different things on the menu to choose from. You can order a few different items and share so you can all try different dishes.
After you eat, you can walk around and explore a little more. They decorate the outside based on the season. Right now it is still decorated for Tanabata and little trees are full of papers with wishes written on them.
Sanzoku will provide transportation for groups and will pick up at the main gate. We've done this a few times for farewell dinners. They do require that each person order a certain amount of food. It's easier when you have a group so you're not trying to figure out who is driving and how many can fit in their car. Driving there is not a problem though. They have plenty of parking. It takes about 30 minutes or so from base, depending on traffic. You can call to make reservations and arrange for transportation (if you need it). Their number is (0827) 82-3115.
To get to Sanzoku...go out the main gate and go straight until you get to four corners (first intersection after the railroad tracks). Turn left. Drive until you have crossed over a bridge. Keep going straight and then turn right at the very first light after you cross the bridge. At this light you can only go straight or turn right (the ILC is on your left). Stay on this road for a while. You will go through a tunnel, and then another tunnel. Keep going. Eventually, you will go through a third tunnel (it will be longer than the first two you went through). After you have gone through the third tunnel, you will see a light. Turn right at the light. The road looks small. It kind of is. Follow the road up until you come to another road. Be careful, this road is busy sometimes. They do have the mirrors across the street so you can see oncoming traffic. Turn right, and then turn into Sanzoku on your left. Enjoy the food and the atmosphere!