My friends and I headed to L’ocanda for a rare girls’ lunch; an occurrence that doesn’t happen often in snowboard-dude studded Hirafu, not that we are complaining! It was a great venue for our rendezvous, with its welcoming fireplace, warm wooden interior, and tantalising display of desserts.
Located just out of Hirafu town on the 343, L’ocanda is one of those places you pass on the way to Kutchan and think ‘omg I have to go there one day’. What made me set a date was hearing from other locals that L’ocanda makes some of the best choux cream, (cream puffs), around, and that is saying a lot in the land of dairy farming.
We all opted for the course menu at ¥1600, which included a drink, a salad, bread, and a dessert, hoping the salad would offset dessert. Well, that’s what I was hoping anyway. Pasta dishes included burdock and stewed beef cheeks in red wine marinade on spaghetti, penne pasta with dried squid in tomato sauce, and gnocchi tuna with mushroom cream sauce.
I have never had such incredibly good gnocchi in my life. The little bundles are soft and somehow melt in your mouth, and the mushroom cream sauce was so good that one of my classy colleagues asked for a spoon so she could scoop up the remains.
The beef cheek dish was also tender and tasty, and the spaghetti with vongole bianco (clams) was very moreish, but the gnocchi is going up there on my ‘must try’ list. Or in my case, must try again.
I ended up having three desserts in the end, because there is no way those choux creams were escaping me, ditto the pudding, and the dessert served with the course was a kind of ice cream cake with delicious little cookies in it.
The verdict on the choux creams is a very big thumbs up! The perfectly crispy pastry is literally pumped full with the lightest of custard cream, and makes taking that first bite a gloriously messy event.
L’ocanda also offers a set course for dinner, which I am planning to sample, so I will let you know if they better the gnocchi… it will be worth a post of its own!
For bookings and enquiries please dial 0136-55-8625