Barbecue in Zaō Onsen


The best Mongolian barbecue or jingisukan restaurant in Zaō (there are many) is a sharp operation where diners do the grunt work on plates of raw lamb and veggies. It's good smoky fun, well supported by a drinks men…
Seafood in Sakata

Sakata Kaisen Ichiba

You can eat at a variety of places at this indoor seafood market or grab some mouth-watering sushi and picnic goodies.
Izakaya in Yamagata


Come here to sample sake and local Yamagata specialities, such as imo nabe (potato stew) and dongara (cod), cooked in practically every possible way. The menu is on a wooden board and includes pictures. Take the fir…
Ramen in Tsuruoka

Sapporo Rāmen

A little ramen joint that lasts for decades must be good given Japan's high culinary standards. The husband-and-wife team here prepare buttery noodles with thin, sweet pork and/or heaped leafy green vegetables. It's…
Izakaya in Sakata

Kumura no Sakaba

While many believe Sakata is an underrated town, Kumura no Sakaba is definitely a much underrated izakaya (Japanese pub-eatery). The atmosphere is propelled by buoyant, local Japanese sharing simple seafood, chicken…
Barbecue in Zaō Onsen


Lamb barbecued on a hotplate shaped like Genghis Khan's headgear, oden (various goodies stewed in a fish-and-vegetable broth) and soba (buckwheat noodles) all feature on the menu at this cheery eatery, in a great lo…
Tonkatsu in Yamagata


Part of an upmarket chain restaurant specialising in tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets), this branch by the Metropolitan Hotel is highly recommended by locals for a quick feed in-between trains.
Steak in Yonezawa


Hundred-year-old Tokiwa is the best known of the local Yonezawa-gyū (beef) joints. Ask the tourist information centre staff in Yonezawa Station for directions – it's a bit out of the way.
Soba in Yamagata

Sobadokoro Shōjiya

Delicious chewy udon and signature soba bowls (hot or cold) are served with simple elegance here. The accompanying tempura and miso are respectively light and tangy.
Cafe in Zaō Onsen


The pizza at this informal, friendly place not only fills a void for hungry skiers seeking Western food, it's actually pretty good.