Shima Kitchen has and always will be one of my favourite artworks on Teshima. It can be difficult to understand what it really is at first but once you do it is pretty simple. It is a central part of the Karato-oka area as it is where most people visit. The Teshima Art Museum is just down the street but Shima Kitchen is where all the action happens.
There are two parts to Shima Kitchen; the first part is a connection of the island to the visitors. If you wander to the main entrance you will be at the restaurant called Shima Kitchen. This is where the artwork gets its name. Shima Kitchen is where many of the old ladies of the island work together to produce local dishes. Thanks to David over at Setouchi Explorer (comment below), I found out that some of the local students from Kagawa were working as interns to help the old ladies of the island during the Triennale. The dishes at Shima Kitchen were designed by a chef of the Marunouchi Hotel in Tokyo, Mr. Yamaguchi; he currently has the role of “adviser” to Shima Kitchen.
The women of Shima Kitchen are the most important part of the artwork. They have been on the island for a long time and there is even a board near the entrance that tells you which person was responsible for each section of the dish. The women are pretty old and I’m sure they don’t have a lot of energy but they do a great job to bring a lot of love into each dish.
The food at Shima Kitchen is pretty standard and based on the locally sourced items around the island. From what I understand, all of the ingredients were sourced on the island, aside from the smaller items such as flour. The Shima Kitchen Set is a set meal that includes a few pickles, a vegetable appetizer, salad, soup, and a main dish that is usually a lightly battered seasonal fish with rice. The only other item you can order is the Keema Curry which switches the main dish with curry.
If Shima Kitchen is fully booked, or you don’t want to spend too much time waiting for a table to be available, you can go next door to their “antenna” shop. This is a small building located to the right of the main entrance of Shima Kitchen and near the back patio. They have a few souvenirs for visitors as well as curry rice. It may not be the same as enjoying a nice lunch at Shima Kitchen but you can eat on the outdoor patio. Beware that they may run out of food at the end of lunch and will probably be closed by 4pm.
This leads to the physical art form. The main building of Shima Kitchen is a house that has been renovated and it is really nice inside. There really isn’t anything too special inside aside from the fact that there is a large kitchen in the middle of the main room with counter seating around it. I have yet to dine at one of the tables as the first time I was with a friend and the second time I was alone. Usually tables are reserved for groups of 3 or more.
The outside is the real treat for this art. Ryo Abe is the main architect and he did a great job with the outside patio/terrace. There is a circular roof that covers the seating area with a small stage in the centre. The stage can easily be used for seating as well when things are busy but it is also used for small concerts or performances. The interesting thing is that they change the shingles of the roof from time to time so it does change with time.
Shima Kitchen is one of my favourite artworks on Teshima and is a real connection with the community. The idea of getting the older generations to work with young generations is wonderful. The house and the patio are beautiful as well and the food is delicious. It can be a bit small for someone with a big appetite and the prices are not cheap. You do pay for the experience, somewhat, but it is well worth it for fresh local food.