Top 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Publish-date: Jan 15 2018 Update-date: Nov 17 2018
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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Top 14 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Nara may be strongly associated with traditional Japan, but in fact, local people and tourists alike can enjoy a wide range of gourmet dishes, including French and Korean cuisine. This article will show you the top 13 dining destinations in Nara, as recommended by top Japanese chefs.

1. Ristorante La Casa Mia

1. Ristorante La Casa Mia1. Ristorante La Casa Mia

Located 20 minutes by foot from the nearest train station, La Casa Mia is an Italian restaurant housed in a secluded area within the countryside. Even so, it is a popular restaurant among locals and tourists alike, and a reservation is required for you to be able to enjoy their great tasting dishes. The chef-owner offers a fusion of Nara and Italy in their dishes. The vegetables and meats are locally produced in Nara, while seafood is sourced from the Seto Inland Sea. Some ingredients are even sourced from Italy. All these ingredients are then combined to produce superb Italian dishes, with some surprising twists! One of their must-try dishes is the [Tagliatelle], whose pasta is made in-house from Hokkaido flour and rich-flavored egg yolk from Nara jidori (Nara chickens). Diners love it because of its wholewheat flavor and chewiness.

Ristorante La Casa Mia

Open: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 11:30 am - 3:30 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm) *Reservations must be made by the morning of the same day.
[Sunday] Lunch 11:30 am - 3:30 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm) *Reservations must be made by the previous day.
Closed: Irregular *Reservations required on Sunday
Average price: [Dinner] 5,800 JPY / [Lunch] 2,800 JPY
Address: 1-1699-1, Nimyohirano, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

2. Genghis Khan Harukawa

2. Genghis Khan HarukawaTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

With jazz music playing in the background, Harukawa serves authentic Korean flavors arranged in a Japanese style. One of their best-selling dishes is the [Buchimgae] (Korean savory pancake), which is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It is also very filling, thanks to its thick dough and generous ingredients flavored with a sweet and sour sauce. Another must-try is their [Harukawa Dak-galbi Nabe], a sweet and spicy Korean hot pot dish made of chicken, bean sprouts, cabbage, onions, carrots, and other vegetables. Its delicious taste is thanks to 3 types of miso: Japanese miso, Korean miso, and a homemade blend that has fruits mixed in it. They also serve the famous Korean dish [Japchae], which is a Korean stir-fried vermicelli noodle dish generously topped with vegetables. It has a piquant taste that will surely get you hooked.

Genghis Khan Harukawa 

Open: Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 1F, Tomio Sunny Heights, 4-1-26, Tomio Moto-machi, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

3. Oryori Hanagaki

3. Oryori HanagakiTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Hanagaki, a restaurant with a very elegant environment, is housed in a refurbished old Japanese house built on a stone wall. The restaurant serves not only Japanese food, but also other dishes that are pleasing not only to the palate, but also to the other senses. However, note that they only accommodate 1 group each for lunch and dinner, so make sure to place a reservation before going. When in the restaurant, you can fully enjoy creative Japanese cuisine in a very private environment, as the restaurant owner and staff will closely attend to all of your needs. Since they take great care to serve diners only the freshest seasonal ingredients, the only item on the menu is the [Omakase Course] (chef's choice). The dishes in the course will vary daily based on the available ingredients for the day; nonetheless, diners are guaranteed to be served dishes made from fresh seafood and other seasonal ingredients. Some examples are: a meat dish made from premium, melt-in-your-mouth Ozaki beef that's been slow-roasted over a low fire, and [Wan Mono] (a dish, usually soup-based, served in a bowl) with a generous serving of seasonal seafood in a clear yet rich dashi (broth).

Oryori Hanagaki

Open: Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Closed: Irregular *Reservation only (1 group each for lunch and dinner)
Average price: [Dinner] 20,000 JPY / [Lunch] 20,000 JPY
Address: 2-13-2, Gakuen Minami, Nara-shi, Nara
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4. Yamato no Sanzoku

4. Yamato no SanzokuTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Known for its modern Japanese interior equipped with a hearth, Sanzoku is a restaurant that serves dishes made of fresh, seasonal ingredients and local sake (Japanese alcohol). They boast of their [Gokai Sanzoku Yaki] cooking style, which is a method where a huge slab of chicken will be fried once, and then grilled slowly on the hearth to remove excess fat. This style makes the chicken crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside. Diners love the balance between the umami (Japanese savory taste) of the meat and the restaurant’s special sauce. Another must-try is the [Marunasu to Tofu no Agedashi] (crispy fried round eggplant and tofu in their homemade dashi). You will love the crispy yet soft texture of the fried round eggplant, the chewiness of the tofu, and the umami of the dashi.

Yamato no Sanzoku

Open: 5:00 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: 3,500 JPY
Address: 2F, Masaki Bldg., 511, Sanjo-cho, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

5. Teppan Kitchen cona

5. Teppan Kitchen conaTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Cona is known for serving teppan ryori (ingredients grilled on an iron griddle) made with seasonal vegetables and Kuroge Wagyu beef. One of their flagship dishes is the classic [Okonomiyaki] (Japanese savory pancake). They take great care in preparing the dashi and spring onion slices, and make sure that they put large, generous chunks of squid and shrimp for that ultimate seafood experience. Another must-try dish, the [Iron Skewers], are made of the finest ingredients, so that you can enjoy the original flavor of the grilled meat. Their meat and seafood dishes are made with seasonal ingredients, like the very sweet [Yukishita Ninjin] (carrots grown under the snow) and young corn on a cob. As well as these dishes, you should not miss their sirloin steak, roast beef, and steaks made from unusual cuts of meat - all from A5-grade Kuroge Wagyu beef. They also have a wide variety of wine and whiskey to pair with your dishes.

Teppan Kitchen cona

Open: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Suaturday] Lunch 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm) *Restaurant will be open from 5:00 pm on Sunday and national holidays
[Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Sunday] Dinner 5:00 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)
Closed: Wednesday
Average price: [Dinner] 4,500 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 2-6-47, Tomio Moto-machi, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

6. Aji no Tabibito Roman

6. Aji no Tabibito RomanTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Roman serves seasonal Japanese cuisine that showcase the maximum flavor of each ingredient. The restaurant has a round counter surrounding an open kitchen, so you can enjoy the chef's cooking with all 5 of your senses. They also take pride in choosing pesticide-free vegetables and additive-free local ingredients, even for the bonito and kelp that they use for their dashi. One of their must-try dishes is the [Chirashi-zushi] (scattered sushi served in a bowl). It has shrimp, shiitake (mushrooms), kinshi tamago (thinly cut pieces of omelette), and rice seasoned with sushi vinegar. The vinegar is fermented with wasanbon (fine-grained Japanese sugar) and natural kelp for a year. For dessert, do not miss their [Purin] (Japanese-style flan pudding) made from high-quality milk from cows raised in an optimal environment.

Aji no Tabibito Roman

Open: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays] Lunch from 11:00 am *Alternating between opening at 11:00 am or 1:00 pm 
[Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays] Dinner from 6:30 pm
Closed: Wednesday *Closes for 2 days at the beginning or end of each month
Average price: [Dinner] 10,800 JPY / [Lunch] 5,400 JPY
Address: 2F, VIV Bldg., 2-13, Tsurumai Higashi-machi, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

7. Beppinya

7. BeppinyaTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Beppinya is a izakaya (Japanese pub) with a retro atmosphere. It is known for serving affordable dishes made from exceptionally fresh ingredients. Some of their must-try dishes are: the [Otsukuri Moriawase] (assorted sushi) made of seafood and freshly caught fish, and fresh [Kamo no Otsukuri] (duck meat sushi) that has a crunchy yet fatty texture, and a rich umami. Aside from these, they also have other familiar dishes like their 70 JPY [Oden] (daikon (radish), eggs, beef tendon, and other ingredients slow-cooked in seasoned dashi) and [Chicken Karaage] (deep-fried chicken) that's been marinated in a soy sauce-based marinade prior to being deep-fried till crispy.

Beppinya

Open: [Friday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 2:00 am (L.O. 1:30 am)
[Monday - Thursday] 5:00 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 12:30 am)
Closed: None
Average price: 2,500 JPY
Address: 1-2-31, Naizen-cho, Kashihara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

8. PEPITAD'ORO

8. PEPITAD'OROTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

PEPITAD'ORO is a creative Italian restaurant that embodies the motto, "local production for local consumption". They take great care in providing diners good food by using only the freshest and finest ingredients. Their fish and seafood are freshly sourced either from the market or caught by the chef himself. Their vegetables are harvested from home gardens, and their beef dishes are made from A4 - A5 grade Yamato Ushi beef, which is known for its sweet taste and good marbling. The restaurant is also known to cater to their diners' taste by changing the seasoning and ingredients of their dishes to complement the diners' wine or liquor, as well as their mood. Enjoy the rich, condensed umami of seafood through their flagship dish, [Fresh Fish Acqua Pazza]. You can also appreciate the original taste of meat through their [Yamato Ushi Steak Tagliata] (sliced steak), which is served on a plate with homemade teriyaki sauce.

PEPITAD'ORO

Open: [Wednesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch from 11:30 am (L.O. 1:30 pm) 
[Tuesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Dinner from 6:00 pm (L.O. Course Meal: 9:30 pm, À la Carte: 10:00 pm)
Closed: Monday *If it falls on a national holiday, the restaurant will be closed on Tuesday instead. Also closes irregularly twice a month.
Average price: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPY
Address: 28, Imamikado-cho, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

9. Ristorante I-lunga

9. Ristorante I-lungaTop 13 Must-Visit Dining Destinations in Nara, as Recommended by Top Japanese Chefs

Owned by the first chef in Japan to earn a star on the Italian version of a world famous gourmet list, Ristorante I-lunga is known to serve sophisticated cuisine inspired by the Piedmont of Northern Italy. They use Nara's traditional vegetables and Yamato Ushi beef, as well as other carefully-selected ingredients from all over Japan, such as Hokkaido-raised lamb and aged potatoes. One of their must-try dishes is the [Higuma (Hokkaido Brown Bear) Tagliata in Marsala Wine Sauce with Foie Gras Marinade], which is made from the premium meat of the rare Hokkaido brown bear, acquired from hunters. It is carefully grilled, so you can enjoy its full umami with no distinctive smell. Another must-try is the [Agnolotti Dal Pudding], which is the Piedmont version of ravioli stuffed with beef, pork, and rabbit meat. It is one of Piedmont's traditional dishes.

Ristorante I-lunga

Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm) *Reservations, required for dinner, are taken until 7:30 pm of the same day.
Closed: Irregular
Average price: [Dinner] 18,000 JPY / [Lunch] 7,000 JPY
Address: 16, Kasugano-cho, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

10. Tempura Kitchom

11. Tempura Kitchom11. Tempura Kitchom

With only 9 seats at the counter, Kitchom is located in a spot far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They serve tempura course meals that allow diners to see each piece of tempura fried one by one. They also have other innovative dishes that make use of the original flavor of each ingredient, which include [Sakizuke] (appetizers), [Otsukuri Moriawase] (assorted sushi), and [Kuchi-gawari] (side dishes) that refresh your taste buds. Aside from the [Omakase Tempura] (chef's choice of assorted tempura) made from seasonal fish and vegetables, they also serve [Ten Cha] (tea poured over tempura of seasonal vegetables and sakura shrimp), allowing diners to enjoy common dishes in a variety of cooking styles.

Tempura Kitchom

Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 1:30 pm *Generally requires reservation a day before the scheduled visit. Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
Closed: Wednesday *Restaurant will open if this day falls on a national holiday
Average price: [Dinner] 4,500 JPY / [Lunch] 2,500 JPY
Address: 1F, Elegance Tomigaoka Bldg., 3-12-7, Tomigaoka, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

11. Akordu

12. Akordu12. Akordu

Akordu offers an amazing view of their spacious garden while you dine. The restaurant's chef, whose skills were honed at a famous restaurant in Basque Country of northern Spain, creates dishes that tell the story of the changing seasons. They offer creative dishes that let you indulge in the color, smell, umami, and texture of the food, such as the [Nose-gawa River Amago Salmon in Smashed Cucumber and Dill Green Herb Essence]. The fresh dill gelato represents a clear stream, allowing you to taste the very essence of a river in the midst of vast nature. They also serve [Miwa Yamamoto no Kaisomen Iso no Kaori to Awabi] (hand-pulled noodles mixed with seaweed, abalone, and abalone liver sauce), which represents the image of the sea and its scent and feel. This image harmonizes beautifully with the cold noodles.

Akordu

Open: Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm (L.O. 1:00 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm (L.O. 7:00 pm)
Closed: Monday *Irregular closing days
Average price: [Dinner] 13,000 JPY / [Lunch] 6,500 JPY
Address: 70-1-3-1, Suimon-cho, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

12. Nikuzushi Bar

13. Nikuzushi Bar13. Nikuzushi Bar

Nikuzushi Bar offers meat sushi and other meat dishes made from only the freshest ingredients. One of the recommended dishes is the [Wagyu no Shimofuri Aburi-zushi], made from A5-grade Miyagi Prefecture-raised Sendai beef. This variety of meat sushi uses grilled marbled slices of Wagyu beef, so it has the taste and balance of lean meat and fat, which explains its melt-in-the-mouth texture. Another recommended dish is the [Assorted Meat Sushi] made from lightly cooked fresh beef, chicken, and horse meat (2 pieces of each kind). They also offer other dishes made with locally produced vegetables, as well as a variety of liquors, such as Japanese sake, shochu (another type of Japanese alcohol), wine, fruit wine, and cocktails. This includes [Harushika] - a famous sake produced in Nara.

Nikuzushi Bar

Open: 4:00 pm - Until the last customer goes home
Closed: None
Average price: 3,500 JPY
Address: 3F, F and F Square, 499, Sanjo-cho, Nara-shi, Nara
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

13. Shunkai Jaya Fukuda

14. Shunkai Jaya Fukuda14. Shunkai Jaya Fukuda

A restaurant loved by locals, Fukuda is known to serve dishes made from seasonal seafood. They get their supply of fresh fish from all over Japan - from Kyushu to Hokkaido - directly through the central market every day. One of the dishes that you should not miss here is the [Assorted Fresh Seafood Sushi]. They also have grilled and fried dishes, as well as other sushi assortments uniquely prepared by the restaurant owner. They have [Katsu Fugu Nabe] (blowfish hot pot) during the winter, and [Katsu Hamo Nabe] (daggertooth pike conger hot pot) during the summer. They also serve a variety of sake and shochu that complement the taste of their fresh fish dishes, such as the [Hire-zake] (heated sake with blowfish fin). It is loved by many diners during the winter.

Shunkai Jaya Fukuda

Open: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm)
Closed: Monday, every first and third Tuesday of the month
Average price: 3,500 JPY
Address: 3-9-7, Denen, Gojo-shi, Nara
More Details

Have you chosen which restaurant to visit? Feel free to use this article as your guide to enjoy good food when in Nara.

Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.

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Publish-date: Jan 15 2018 Update-date: Nov 17 2018
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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