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 Okonomiyaki in Osaka


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 Japanese in Ise-Shima


This atmospheric local institution specialises in gyū-don (beef bowls), with the meat thinly sliced, simmered in hearty sauce and served with onions over rice. It's in the far left corner of Okage-yokochō.
Top Choice Japanese in Himeji


This approachable contemporary restaurant of Japanese stucco walls and marble floors is a great choice for a civilised experience. The speciality are the set menus: a little sashimi, some tempura and the usual nibbl…
Top Choice Udon in Osaka

Imai Honten

Step into an oasis of calm amid Dōtombori's chaos to be welcomed by kimono-clad staff at one of the area's oldest and most revered udon specialists. Try kitsune udon – noodles topped with soup-soaked slices of fried…
Sushi in Osaka

Yoshino Sushi

In business since 1841, Yoshino specialises in Osaka-style sushi, which is hako-sushi ('pressed sushi'). This older version of the dish (compared to the newer, hand-pressed Tokyo-style nigiri-sushi) is formed by a w…
Izakaya in Nara


This friendly spot in Naramachi is styled like an old storehouse and has just 16 seats around a counter amid dark-wood panels and an old beer sign. Indulge in mini-katsu (mini pork cutlets), yakitori (grilled chicke…
Soba in Osaka

Denki Soba

The soba, which is actually quite good, is only nominally part of the experience here. The rest is the atmosphere – carefully orchestrated by the proprietor who mixes ambient sounds on analogue synths – and the inte…
Izakaya in Osaka

Robatayaki Isaribi

Head downstairs to this spirited, friendly izakaya (pub eatery) for standards such as skewered meats, seafood, veggies fresh off the grill and giant pieces of tori no karaage (fried chicken). The best seats are at s…
Japanese in Kurama & Kibune


This is a good place to sample kawadoko 'above-river' dining on platforms. A friendly crew of ladies runs the show and the food is quite good; they are known for their Nagashi somen noodles in summer (11am to 4pm), …