15 Best Restaurants in Western Honshu, Japan

Kappo Chiyo

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Imagine a kappo (fine dining) course that includes squid and scallops cooked before you with butter on a sizzling-hot river stone and such goodies as fugu—served as sashimi or cooked tempura-style—stuffed with foie gras. Zingy homemade pickles reset your palate for each successive treat. Women beautifully dressed in formal wear serve you in a classically elegant manner, and off to the right of the intimate 10-seat counter are views of a mossy green and flowery window garden. All seating is Japanese style, and no English menu is available. Cheaper lunch options are also available. 

20--4 Imafuruhagi-machi, Hagi, 758-0021, Japan
0838-22–1128
Known For
  • The highest-quality local ingredients
  • Lavish multicourse dinners
  • Elegant atmosphere
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No dinner Sun.

Kawakyo

$$$ Fodor's choice

This intimate, counter-only restaurant is the best place to try local sake and a set meal, including the seven famous delicacies from Shinji-ko and Matsue's coast. The staff are outgoing, as are the regular crowd. Try to make reservations at least a few days in advance. The "special full course" set menu option with local dishes is the best bet.

65 Suetsugu Hon-machi, Matsue, 690-0843, Japan
0852-22–1312
Known For
  • The best place to sample local Matsue cuisine
  • A friendly, family-run restaurant
  • Reservations recommended
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. No lunch, Reservations essential

Yuuki

$$ Fodor's choice

Unagi (freshwater eel) and delectable mountain vegetables maintain Yuki's highly venerated reputation. The kitchen also serves river smelt and other specialties, and in summer they prepare ayu (sweetfish) dishes. The dining room is chock-full of old farm implements, and there's even a stream burbling near your feet. A teishoku set meal is available for lunch (11--3) or dinner 5--10. Reservations are advised, and call the day before to confirm. 

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Aoki Sushi

$$

An old-fashioned sushi restaurant with a few tables on tatami mats and a long bar counter with stools, the rustic restaurant has a cheerful staff and reasonable prices. It's also within easy walking distance of Tsuwano Station. Try the jyo-nigiri (deluxe sushi set); it will likely include a slice or two of tasty, chewy koi, or local carp. Have that and a frosty mug of beer. Last order is at 9.30 pm but may close early if it is quiet. 

78--10 Ushiroda, Tsuwano, 699-5605, Japan
0856-72–0444
Known For
  • Affordable, quality sushi
  • Friendly atmosphere
  • Cash-only and usually open until 10 pm (late for Tsuwano)
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.

Hamayoshi

$$

Three tables and a counter make up this intimate restaurant specializing in fish from the Seto Nai-kai. Sushi is one option; another is mamakari, a kind of vinegary sashimi sliced from a small fish caught in the Inland Sea. Other delicacies are shako-ebi, or mantis shrimp, and lightly grilled anago, or sea eel. No English is spoken, but an English menu is available and the owner is happy to help you order and instruct you on how to enjoy the chef's delicacies. Hamayoshi is on the main street leading from the station, just before the Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel. Unlike many restaurants here, it's open on holidays.

2--19--30 Achi, Kurashiki, 710-0055, Japan
086-421--3430
Known For
  • Mantis shrimp sashimi
  • Intimate dining
  • Seafood delicacies
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Hekisuien

$

Set riverside with fantastic views of Okayama Castle, this small cafe and restaurant is the perfect place to grab lunch or coffee when exploring the castle and Korakuen Garden. You can also rent a swan boat to paddle around on the Asahi River after your meal. Dishes include bamboo shoot udon and the Okayama local pork bowl.

1--6 Korakuen, Okayama, 703-8257, Japan
086-272--1605
Known For
  • Lunch with a view of the castle
  • Bamboo shoot udon
  • Okayama pork bowl
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Kamameshi Suishin Honten

$$ | Naka-ku

Famous for its kamameshi, or rice casseroles, this restaurant serves the freshest fish from the Seto Nai-kai—fugu, or puffer fish, oysters, and eel, to name but a few. If you prefer your fish cooked, try the rockfish grilled with soy sauce. English menus (and Japanese-style rooms with horikotatsu pits to hang your legs in) are available.

6--7 Tate-machi, Hiroshima, 730-0032, Japan
082-247–4411
Known For
  • Local Hiroshima cuisine
  • Fresh seafood
  • Welcoming atmosphere

Kanawa Oyster Boat

$$$$ | Naka-ku

Hiroshima is known for its oysters, and Kanawa, on a barge moored on the Motoyasu-gawa, gets its oysters from a particularly salty area of the Inland Sea. It's believed that these waters impart the firm flesh and sweet, robust taste that loyal customers love to splurge on. It's not cheap, but the oysters are worth every yen. An English menu makes it all easy, and dining is on tatami mats or at tables, with relaxing river views. The place is an easy stroll from Peace Memorial Park.

KuShuKuShu (9494)

$$

You'll be happy to find this lively little izakaya, a Kurashiki favorite for more than 20 years. Cool music and loud laughter can be heard from here when everything else on the street is locked up tight. Unwind to an eclectic mix of traditional white stucco, black wooden beams, bright lights, and jazz. Though the staff don't speak English, an English menu is available. Scores of tasty snacks, such as grilled meats or cheese and salami plates are paired with low-priced beer and sake. It's tucked along the east side of the covered Ebisu-dori shopping arcade halfway between the station and Kanryu-ji. Last orders are at 10 pm.

2--16--41 Achi, Kurashiki, 710-0055, Japan
086-421–0949
Known For
  • Cash only
  • Lively in the evenings
  • Classic izakaya fare
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Tues.

Okonomimura

$ | Naka-ku

The Okonomimura Building contains around 20 shops that all serve okonomiyaki (literally, "as you like it grilled"). Okonomiyaki is best described as an everything omelet, topped with bits of shrimp, pork, squid, or chicken, cabbage, and bean sprouts. Different areas of Japan make different okonomiyaki; in Hiroshima the ingredients are layered rather than mixed, and they throw in lots of fried noodles. Seating in these lively shops, which are generally open late, is either at a wide counter in front of a grill or at a table with its own grill. This complex is near the Hondori shopping street, just west of Chuo-dori.

Okuizumo Ohashi

$

If you're pressed for time but want to grab a decent lunch, try some warigo soba, a local buckwheat-noodle specialty. Ohashi has a filling, healthful set lunch. An early dinner is also possible, since the restaurant is open from 5 until around 8 pm.

3--5--26 Nishitsuda, Matsue, 690-0017, Japan
0852-26–6551
Known For
  • Tempura sets
  • Tasty, affordable lunch sets
  • Warigo soba
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Thurs.

Restaurant Kiyutei

$$

Best known for its steaks, this attractive Kurashiki-style restaurant has been in business since 1909. Kiyutei sits right at the end of the tree-lined Kurashiki River; the entrance is behind a gate across the street from the entrance to the Ohara Art Museum.

1--2--20 Chuo, Kurashiki, 710-0055, Japan
086-422–5140
Known For
  • Classic Japanese-Western fusion dishes
  • Affordable lunch sets
  • Crowded on weekends
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed.

Sobaho Fujitaya

$

Colorful local characters come to this casual restaurant for beer and sake and seiro-soba (thin buckwheat noodles served in steaming-hot baskets) and hot tempura served on fragrant handmade cypress trays. The restaurant is usually open by 11 am (or when the noodles are ready), but it closes at 6 (or when all the noodles are gone), so only a very early dinner is possible here.

59 Kumagaya-cho, Hagi, 758-0034, Japan
0838-22–1086
Known For
  • A local favorite
  • Seiro-soba
  • Simple, delicious lunches
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed. and Fri. No dinner

Wafu Restaurant Nakamura

$$

Set-menu courses at this reliable and popular traditional restaurant typically offer a variety of fish, mountain vegetables, miso soup, and steamed rice. Nakamura has tatami and Western seating, but no English-language menu. You can select your food from the tempting window display. Reservations are accepted and recommended for larger parties.

394 Hijiwara, Hagi, 758-0026, Japan
0838-22–6619
Known For
  • Fresh seafood
  • Simple, relaxed atmosphere
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed, No lunch mid-Aug.

Yakumo-an

$

Surrounded by a colorful garden, the dining area at this traditional house is the best place to try the sanshoku warigo soba, a local specialty where three soba dishes are served in lacquerware with each dish having a different topping (quail egg, grated yam, grated radish). Located near the Buke Yashiki and Lafcadio Hearn House, it offers a relaxing break after a morning of sightseeing.

308 Kitahori-cho, Matsue, 690-0888, Japan
0852-22–2400
Known For
  • Kamo nanban soba
  • Beautiful location
  • Warigo soba
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: No dinner