The following article was originally published in Issue 9 of inCiderJapan magazine.
Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture is famous for a great many things: hot springs with breathtaking mountain views, hiking in the Japanese Alps, soba (buckwheat noodles) and wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and various museums and historical sites, including its most famous tourist destination, Matsumotojo (Matsumoto Castle). It is a city that is well-known for its ties to the past and tradition, nature, and art, but it also happens to be the unsuspecting location for a very refreshing cider and culinary experience known as the Source Diner.
Opened in June of 2015, the Source Diner is located just a five-minute walk from Nawate-dori (Nawate Street), another one of the city’s big draw attractions. Unassuming from the outside, you’ll be enveloped by comfort and laid back style once you walk in.
When you do, you’ll immediately notice the kitchen behind the shop’s striking wooden counter. A handful of tables, propped up skateboards, stickers, colourful beer cans, and an assortment of books make up the majority of the rest of the decor, while ambient chillax music completes the mood. Walking past the kitchen towards the back of the diner, you’ll find a makeshift DJ area complete with turntables, more skateboards, and a hanging disco ball.
The Source’s menu is slightly more modest and divided into snacks (500 yen), starters (500 yen), salads (1000 yen), hot dishes (700-1200 yen), meats (1400-3500 yen), and desserts (500 yen). Owner, Makoto Adachi, noticing my hungry stares and the fact that I was alone, was quick to warn me that the portions at the Source are rather generous. In fact, the menu even states, “Our dishes are designed to be shared.”
After some thought, I decided on a starter assortment of marinated oysters, curry-flavoured pumpkin, and quinoa salad. For my main course, I went for the Source’s burger of the day, which on that ocassion happened to be a baked apple, bacon, and cheese affair (pictured below).
Suffice to say, Adachi was quite right about the serving sizes, and I was unexpectedly impressed by how professional the presentations looked, not to mention how delicious everything tasted. But then I learned that Adachi spent three “bohemian years” in New York training as a cook. When he returned to Tokyo in 2007, he continued plying his trade at D&Deparment, where he worked his way up to head chef. Afterwards, he returned to his home town and worked at the city’s four-star Buena Vista Hotel and essentially repeated the same feat.
When Adachi felt ready, he quit and opened the Source Diner so he could create dishes that he liked in an atmosphere that suited him. He now employs another chef, Seigo Sato, to help him manage their loyal following end ever-growing popularity.
It’s not just fantastic food that the Source has to offer, however, they also have a strong selection of craft beers and ciders, the latter largely options from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and next-door city neighbours and good friends, Son of the Smith Hard Cider (both who have had events held there). Wine and other alcoholic drinks are available, too, as are non-alcoholic choices.
After finishing your meal, you’ll no doubt be tempted to sit back and unwind listening to the buzz of conversations or be engrossed in your own, such is the appealing atmosphere. With its American culture meets Japanese cool hip-hop vibe, the Source is a fantastic place to hang out and while the time away.
inCiderJapan highly recommends you add the Source to your itinerary the next time you plan to visit Matsumoto City. Only a short jaunt from Matsumoto Castle, they’re a perfect lunch or dinner alternative. And for any English-speaking travellers that don’t understand Japanese, never fear, English is very much welcome. So, too, are those with particular food allergies or dietary restrictions, just let them know when you arrive.
The Source Diner’s hours of operation:
Weekdays & Weekends Lunch: 11:30~14:30 Dinner: 18:00~22:00
THE SOURCE DINER
〒390-0874 Nagano-ken, Matsumoto-shi, Ote 4-8-17