Nagoya, Ise-Shima, and the Kii Peninsula Restaurants

Restaurants in Nagoya and on the peninsulas are slightly less expensive than in Tokyo. Your cheapest options are the noodle shops, donburi (rice bowl) chains, and kaiten (revolving) sushi and curry houses. Nagoya’s coffee shops are also known for their cheaper-than-usual morning sets, where for not much more than the price of a regular cup of coffee you will also get some toast, a sandwich, or bacon and eggs. Franchised restaurants often have English alongside Japanese on their menus, but don't expect the staff to know more than a few words.

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  • 1. Craftbeer Keg Nagoya

    $$$ | Higashi-ku

    The focus of this laid-back eatery near Hisaya Odori Station is craft beer, with 13 taps pouring a frequently changing lineup of well-handled microbrews, mostly from Japan, such as excellent Ise Kadoya brews from Ise. To go with the beer, there's a menu that includes wild boar sausages, lamb and garlic dumplings, and pizza. The only drawback, as with all of Japan's craft pubs, is price: not-quite-pints are typically ¥880.

    1--10--13 Higashisakura, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 461-0005, Japan

    Known For

    • Japanese craft brews
    • Good pizzas
    • Meat dishes that pair well with beer
  • 2. Ibasho

    $$$ | Naka-ku

    This fabulous old wooden restaurant specializes in grilled eel (unagi), which fills the restaurant with a mouthwatering, charcoal-grill aroma. Some of the seating is at low tables on raised tatami-mat flooring, though there are also tables and chairs overlooking a small Japanese garden.

    3--13--22 Nishiki, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 460-0003, Japan

    Known For

    • Hitsumabushi, a Nagoya specialty featuring chopped eel smothered in miso sauce and served on rice<i/>
    • Charming rustic interiors
    • English menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun., and the 2nd and 3rd Mon. of each month
  • 3. Izakaya Toramaru


    This traditional restaurant in a replica warehouse in the Kawasaki area does not open unless there is a delivery of fresh fish, which indicates how seriously the cooks take their food. As well as a wide variety of fresh fish dishes, there are also plenty of meat and izakaya staples on the menu, all served in haphazardly shaped pottery dishes.

    2--13--6 Kawasaki, Ise, Mie-ken, 516-0009, Japan

    Known For

    • Good selection of sake and shochu
    • Expertly prepared sashimi
    • Welcoming atmosphere

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues. No lunch
  • 4. Kisoji Nishikiten

    $$$$ | Naka-ku

    Come here for shabu-shabu—thinly sliced beef and vegetables that you boil in broth in the center of your table and then dip into various sauces before eating. The set courses aren't cheap, but the quality makes this restaurant worth a splurge. There are a dozen other branches around Nagoya, including one in Sakae.

    3--20--15 Nishiki, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 460-0003, Japan

    Known For

    • Matsusaka beef shabu-shabu
    • Traditional service
    • Good sukiyaki and sashimi sets
  • 5. Mokumoku Kaze no Budo

    $$ | Naka-ku

    In a perfect world, all school and office canteens would be a bit more like this rustic restaurant in La Chic mall in Sakae. For a reasonable set price, you get all you can eat from a generously stocked buffet, which explains why it is always busy and lively.

    3--6--1 Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 460-0008, Japan

    Known For

    • Healthy dishes
    • Locally sourced produce
    • All-you-can-drink options
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  • 6. Sekai no Yama-chan Honten

    $$ | Naka-ku

    Peppery tebasaki (deep-fried chicken wings) are the specialty at the main branch of Nagoya's best-known izakaya chain, though you can also order sashimi, fried noodles and other favorites. The prices are affordable, and it always attracts a lively crowd. If it's full, don't worry: staff can direct to one of another half-dozen Yama-chan (as it's familiarly called) nearby. The picture menu makes ordering easy.

    4--9--6 Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 460-0008, Japan

    Known For

    • Deep-fried chicken wings
    • Taiwan yakisoba (fried noodles)
    • Nagoya classics

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch
  • 7. Sushikyu


    In the old Oharai-machi neighborhood a few minutes’ walk from the entrance to the Naiku, Sushikyu has been serving a regional specialty called tekone-zushi for generations. The donburi (rice bowl), topped with raw slices of bonito marinated in soy sauce and with dried seaweed and wasabi added to taste, was originally a fisherman’s dish quickly prepared at sea.

    20 Ujinakanokiricho, Ise, Mie-ken, 516-0025, Japan

    Known For

    • Charming 120-year-old building
    • Filling lunch sets centered on the tekone-zushi
    • Second-floor window seats with nice river views

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner
  • 8. Tofu Cafe Urashima


    Coffee and sweets are on the menu alongside tofu-based lunches at this mellow but popular café about a 10-minute walk southeast of the castle. Try the Tamatebako Kaiseki lunch set, which comes in an attractive lacquerware box and (alongside pickles, vegetable side dishes, and miso soup) features tofu that's been grilled on skewers and accented with a sweet-savory soy-based sauce.

    726--2 Higashikoken, Inuyama, Gifu-ken, 484-0081, Japan

    Known For

    • Reasonable priced lunch sets
    • No meat dishes
    • Good coffee and desserts for those not looking for a full meal

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues.
  • 9. U no Iori U


    Cormorants strut around the Japanese garden outside this café owned by a family that upholds the 1,300-year-old ukai tradition. It's a block and a half west of Ryokan Sugiyama. The menu reflects that ukai connection, with sweetfish dishes like ayu-zosui, a rice porridge, and ayu-no-narezushi, a kind of reverse sushi with the ayu stuffed full of rice.

    94--10 Naka-Ukai, Gifu-shi, Gifu-ken, 502-0071, Japan

    Known For

    • Locally caught, fresh sweetfish rice porridge called ayu-zosui
    • Relaxing place for coffee with garden views
    • Close to many of Gifu's main attractions

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed 2nd and 4th Sun.; 1st, 3rd, and 5th Mon. No dinner
  • 10. Wadakin


    If you love beef, make a pilgrimage to Matsusaka, one express train stop north of Ise. Wadakin claims to be the originator of Matsusaka beef's fame; the cattle are raised with loving care on the restaurant's farm out in the countryside. Although dinnertime is extremely expensive, with the priciest courses an eye-watering ¥30,000, lunchtime bentos offer a more affordable way to try the famed Matsusaka.

    1878 Naka-machi, Mie-ken, 515-0083, Japan

    Known For

    • The chef's steak dinner course
    • Also serves the Matsusaka-gyu in sukiyaki
    • It's extremely popular, so reservations are a must

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed 4th Tues. of month
  • 11. Yamamotoya Sohonke

    $ | Naka-ku

    Misonikomi udon (noodles in a miso-based broth with green onions and mushrooms) dominates the menu at this simple restaurant. A big, steaming bowl of this hearty, cold-chasing specialty is usually filling enough, though you can pay a little extra to top it off with something like a raw egg, or opt for a side dish like yakitori chicken.

    3--12--19 Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 460-0008, Japan

    Known For

    • Misonokomi udon noodles, a regional favorite
    • Nice, near-rustic interiors
    • Friendly service

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 12. Zazahanare

    $$$ | Nakamura-ku

    Head to this plush traditional izakaya near Nagoya Station for a variety of local flavors that include Nagoya favorites tebasaki (chicken wings), hitsumabushi (char-grilled eel), kishimen noodles, and miso-coated pork cutlets. Most seating is at dark wooden tables on tatami mats in the large main dining hall, but there are also some intimate private rooms available.

    3-13-13 Mieki, Nagoya, Aichi-ken, 450-0002, Japan

    Known For

    • Nagoya meibutsu set (includes all local specialties on the menu)
    • Good selection of local sake

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