Warabe Soba is a small restaurant in Nara's Yume Kaze Plaza, on the main road just around the corner from Todaiji Temple. This shop draws lots of tourists due to its great location, an its prices reflect that. The menu is in English and Japanese, and they offer a variety of soba (buckwheat noodle dishes) including cold soba, soba soups with tempura and soba with egg broth.
Four of us had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, then were quickly seated in the middle of the restaurant. We scanned the menu, then ordered a variety of soba dishes including soba with tempura shrimp, cold soba with dipping sauce, and soba with vegetables. Each dish cost 1,000 to 1,500 Yen, very expensive, but still drawing a crowd in this touristy area. Similar dishes might be 500 Yen less in less touristy areas.
Yume Kaze Plaza occupies the site of an 1800s construction company. Though the area feels like a modern shopping center, several of the buildings are original structures from this time period. Here you can choose from a variety of shops all specializing in local Japanese food.
Naramachi Ashibi no Sato Restaurant is a nice noodle shop in the historic Naramachi area of Nara. This restaurant, located in one of the old wood and stucco buildings from the 19th Century, is clean, simple and modern inside, with a food shop in the front, and just a handful of tables in the back. We took a seat near the back door at one of the Western-style tables, and the waitress kindly brought us tea and an English menu.
We ordered a beer with our late lunch, and two identical set meals of udon noddles with mushrooms, along with a side of various pickled items and two rice balls. The meal was simple, but excellent. Our bill was exactly 2,500 Yen.
This restaurant, as you might guess by the pickled items for sale in the front of the shop, as well as by the pickled side dishes, was once a pickle shop.
Naramachi (literally Nara Town) is laid out around Gango-ji Temple, south of the Sarusawa-no-ike Pond. The temple was founded in the late 8th Century, and was once one of the premier Nara temples. The temple burned in the 15th and 19th Centuries, and after the second fire, a merchant's town--Naramachi--grew in what was once the temple grounds. Several building from the original temples survive, including a 13th Century monks' dormitory, which is now a temple building.
The Tea Lounge in Nara Hotel is a great place to enjoy cakes in the way you might be used to it from your western homecountry and the windows of the Tea Lounge are facing the own japanes gardens of Nara Hotel.
The Tea Lounge of Nara Hotel
is open daily between 08.30am and 06.00pm
Favorite Dish: They have a great choice of cakes and pastries, see also my last photo.
Having lunch in Japan is something like a cultural shock, especially when you have never tasted that kind of food before. We were served by servants in traditional costumes and all of them spoke at least a bit of english. This traditional hotel and restaurant is where the japanese emperor and all celebrities coming to Nara are going, so it might be a perfect choice for you,too !
Favorite Dish: Please dont ask me about any names of these dishes, I am even not able to describe any tastes, I just remember that the lunch was served in a wooden box plus some side-dishes, rice and some soup or rather a sauce, where you dip in some of the things from the large box. We got some explanations by our tourguide and I have to admit I did not like that sort of food at all, except for the desert, in my last picture.
Nara on an August afternoon is a breeezeless steambath under a growlight. The idea of eating anything hot -- especially ramen -- is completely untenable. So we were elated on our walk from the JR station to Nara-koen Park to see a noodle shop serving cold ramen on the right hand side of the shopping street. It was small and named with Kanji, so we have no idea what to call the place, but it was cozy, inviting and full of locals cooling off. Hungry and overheated, we drooped in for a bite.
The cold noodles were excellent, filling us up and cooling us off at the same time. We slurped them like locals, sucking up their refreshing coolness with each breath. The staff was friendly and bent over backwards to serve us, even if we were completely incomprehensible. If you don't find this exact shop, I'm sure you can find others that will make you equally happy. Small cold noodle shops are another reason I love Japan!
Well, except that I was stupid and ordered hot noodles! Boy, was everyone impatient waiting for me to be done!
Where to eat while in Nara? That is a big question.
You have a wide choice between the touristy places serving Japanese food and all those yucky places like McDonald and Burger King.
But if you really want to have good meal and good time step into one of the local izakayas, the tiny eatery with the red lamp at the door.
We found such a place on one of the narrow streets right of the main shopping passage.
The place was tiny, just a bar and few tables. There was very little English spoken and the menu was in Japanese only. The food was cooked right behind the bar by an old guy who really knew what he was doing. The wife was helping to prepare our meals and was serving the food.
Favorite Dish: Aside of delicious sake (in huge cups) we had there some nice fish and seafood. The food was delicious, just look at the pictures.
We were lucky to find this place on the rainy evening. It was 1 1/2 block from the main shopping street (with glass roof) going opposite direction than Nara Park.
Small izakaya belongs to a lady in her ...late 50's... who not only will take good care of you but the fish served in that place is personally caught by her on the morning.
The lady is an avid fisher-woman who not only will cook her fish deliciously for you but each time she catches something she paints it. Yes, she paints her catch! All the paintings of her fish are hanging on the wall with proper date, place and weight of the caught fish.
I think this place is clearly the best izakaya in Nara!
Favorite Dish: We were eating our way through the night, flushing down everything with great sake. Just look at the picture. Sorry they are little blurry, but we did not wanted to disturb fabulous atmosphere of that place with our flash ;-)
This place is also located of the main shopping street (see picture)
It offers the strangest pastries we have ever seen.
Some look like miniatures of other foods, some like danish, some are cookies.
Everybody can find something for themselves no matter where from you are coming!
Since our hotel did not served any breakfast we started to wonder narrow streets of Nara early before all the store opened. While walking through the main shopping passage (with the glass roof) we notices small breakfast place where mostly local people were munching and reading their morning paper.
The place is tended by young couple with little baby.
The breakfast menu is simple but good. You have choice of very Japanese breakfast, not so Japanese breakfast and more like a western breakfast choice. It all looked good and inexpensive.
Favorite Dish: 2 butter rolls, one with scrambled eggs and one with slice of ham + coffee and salad.
Enjoy a vegetarian meal comprising of hot porridge (congee) and an assortment of vegetables (pickled and cooked varieties) in the gardens of the shrine.
The ambience was peaceful and the food is wholesome
Favorite Dish: Hot porridge which is perfect on a cool autumn day
After absorbing the old culture and atmosphere of ancient Nara, it was good to step forward to current times. As we left Nara Park, we found ourselves in modern Nara with cafes and little shops.
At Pinocchio, it's cosy with lovely cushions and warm lighting. It's also good to have a clean bathroom to freshen up :-)
Favorite Dish: We love the chiffon cake set that comes with coffee
The restaurant is in a thatched-roof house that overlooks part of the Isuien garden and pond. It's a wonderful place to have a traditional meal. From my knowledge it's only open for lunch.
The restaurant only serves unagi (eel) and each meal comes as a set. A set will cost about 2,400yen and include the eel, soup, rice and pickled vegetables.
The gardens around the restaurant cost 600yen to enter. To dine at the restaurant you don't need to pay this fee and can still see some of the garden. I don't recommend paying the 600yen for this gardern. There are better gardens in Kyoto.
Favorite Dish: They only serve traditional unagi - if you like unagi then it's very good. If not, you should not come to this restaurant.
This restaurant only serves a mini-kaiseki meal and a set-menu, both of which change with the season. Our set-menu included light tofu flavored with sesame, soup, rice, pickled vegetables, tempura, and various bite-size morsels of shrimp, chicken, potatoes wrapped in bacon and scallops. Everything was delicious and beautifully presented.
The restaurant is in a lovely part of town near Gangoji Temple. The whole area is well-worth a visit -little narrow lanes and traditional wooden houses and shops line the streets. The actual restaurant is a 200-year-old house with lovely ochre-coloured walls and tatami mat dining area with a view of the traditional Japanese garden.
We got a Bento from a "supermarket" along the street across the JR station on our circular walking tour around the city. There are many choices of restaurant and take-away food along the rows of shops.
"Bento" is a Japanese lunch box packed with a portion of rice with other small portion of "dishes" such as unagi (yummy grilled fish), pickled vegetables, toufu, etc.
Located in the Nara open air mall. You see the display case outside and need to go down a few stairs into the restaurant.
Prices are very reasonable compared to other restaurants in the area.
Favorite Dish: Some items were unique. It is best to check out the dispay outside before ordering so you have an idea of what you are getting.