Restaurants

Top Choice Izakaya in Nara

Washokuya Happoh

This large, cheery, modern farmhouse-style spot salutes Nara as sake's birthplace, in both drink and food. Alongside izakaya standards like sashimi and karaage (fried chicken pieces), we loved the dishes marinated i…
Top Choice Steak in Kōbe

Kōbe Plaisir

You can't get any more locavore than this – ingredients come directly from the local branch of the Japan Agricultural Cooperative. You and your party choose your preparation of Kōbe or other steak – seiro-mushi (ste…
Top Choice Vegetarian in Kurama & Kibune

Yōshūji

Yōshūji serves superb shōjin-ryōri (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) in a delightful old Japanese farmhouse with an irori (open hearth). The house special, a sumptuous selection of vegetarian dishes served in red lacque…
Top Choice Street Food in Osaka

Wanaka Honten

This famous tako-yaki (octopus dumplings) stand, just north of Dōguya-suji arcade, uses custom copper hotplates (instead of cast iron) to make dumplings that are crisper on the outside than usual (but still runny in…
Top Choice Burgers in Kōbe

Wanto Burger

Run by a cool young crew, this spot looks like a vintage US diner, with long counter and a few tables, but that's where the resemblance ends. It's utterly different in both taste and price because the burgers are ma…
Top Choice Okonomiyaki in Osaka

Chibō

Chibō is one of Osaka's most famous okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) restaurants. It almost always has a line, but it moves fast because there is seating on multiple floors (though you might want to hold out for the co…
Top Choice Steak in Kinosaki Onsen

Irori Dining Mikuni

If you want a break from Kinosaki seafood, this new, cosy, whitewashed spot-on Eki-dōri serves Tajima beef (both a cousin and a neighbour of Kōbe beef). Get yours atop donburi (rice bowl; our favourite), in croquett…
Top Choice Burgers in Nara

Sakura Burger

This unassumingly gourmet burger joint is steps north of Kintetsu Nara Station. Expect a lunchtime queue for burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs with your choice of toppings. The namesake Sakura burger comes piled with…
Top Choice Noodles in Nagahama

Yokarō

With its tatami room and garden, this intimate, 200-plus-year-old restaurant positively oozes 'old Japan' charm. The signature dish is yakisaba-sōmen (grilled mackerel over thin noodles), which is also available in …
Top Choice Vegan in Hongū

Cafe Bonheur

An unexpected treasure at Hongū's southern end is this vegan cafe in a former post office (with the wood floors and clapboard walls to prove it). It does lovely lunches like green curries and delectable sandwiches o…