Shizuka is a restaurant that's been in business for over 50 years, and one that visitors to Nara simply should not miss! The restaurant opens at 11 a.m., but it's not uncommon to see people line up outside before then. The restaurant specializes in a dish called kamameshi—a rice dish cooked in an iron pot called a kama—and the owners insist on cooking each one to order. For the sake of expediency, restaurant staff will confirm the order of the diners while they're standing in line, which means you can start to chow down shortly after being seated. Still, at peak times it's not unusual to wait for over an hour, since there's only 43 seats in the restaurant. If you're traveling in a group, it pays to show up early.
One of the great things about kamameshi is that all of the ingredients are cooked together, so the rice absorbs the flavor and aroma of everything that's included. The restaurant is careful to use seasonal ingredients; greens from the mountains in spring, chestnuts and mushrooms in autumn as well as succulent oysters in winter. For more insight into how kamameshi is made, check out the restaurant's site, which details the seven-step process to make it.
Address: 59-11 Noboriojicho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8213
Business Hours: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Average Price: ¥1,000 - ¥1,999
Founded in 1948, Mizuya Chaya sits at the entrance of the Kasuga Shrine, and boasts marvelous waterfront views in front of the Miyagawa River. The building is a beautiful thatched cottage from the Taisho Era (1912 - 1926) that still stands today (though the interior has been renovated). In autumn, the maples surrounding the shop turning a vibrant red, offering a colorful and peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds often found in Nara.
One of Mizuya Chaya's signature dishes is warabi mochi, a subtle and sweet dessert with glutinous rice balls (mochi) with matcha and azuki bean paste, covered in a powdered soybean flour called kinako. If you're looking for something a little heartier there are plenty of options to choose from. We recommend the udon! Refresh yourself with some tasty noodles before you hit the road again.
Address: 30 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8212
Business Hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Average Cost: ¥1,000
This time-honored shop has 120 years of history. Kikusuiro is notable not only for its gorgeous, traditional exterior, but also because part of the building's interior is made with the same materials found in the nearby temple, Kofuku-ji. Kikusuiro is unique because it's part of three dining experiences; a small upscale diner, a Japanese-style restaurant and a western-style venue that caters to larger affairs like wedding receptions and dinner parties. The most affordable of the three is the Japanese-style restaurant, which offers very reasonably priced lunch sets.
The signature dish of the lunch sets are donburi, rice dishes covered with various toppings. One of the most popular is the limited oyakodon, a rice bowl made with chicken and egg. Only ten are made each day! If that's unavailable, there's a delicious sea bream sashimi rice bowl, set meals that offer grilled or braised seasonal fish, a miso pork dish, as well as a vegetarian-friendly set meal and more! Kikusuiro is quite popular, but they accept online reservations and it pays to plan ahead.
Address: 630-8301 Nara Prefecture, Nara, Takabatakecho, 1130
Business Hours: 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Average Cost: ¥1,100 - ¥3,000
This quaint little eatery near Todaiji Temple only seats 18. It's easily recognizable by the father and son tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) statues greeting guests outside. As the name would imply, the restaurant serves up soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat grown in Hokkaido and ground with a stone mortar. There are many popular ways to eat the soba served here, including cold and covered in a yam and radish puree, dipped in kombu (kelp) soup or served up with crunchy, freshly fried tempura! No matter what you choose, you're sure to leave refreshed and satisfied.
Address: 50 Suimoncho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8208
Business Hours: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Average Cost: ¥1,000
When you think of dining out in Japan's ancient capital, you might not think of Italian food, but Café i-Lunga is sure to change your mind! Located in Yumekaze Square (just in front of Todaiji Temple), the lunch set menu features specially made pasta and delicious Hamburg steak (known in Japan as hambaagu) prepared by their renowned house chef, Junichiro Horie. These authentic dishes use seasonal ingredients to highlight Italian methods of cooking, and add a welcome breath of fresh air to the culinary scene in Nara. The restaurant also has outdoor seating, which makes it a picture-perfect place to enjoy lunch when the weather is nice. It's also a great place for beer lovers, since they sell Nara's own Soni Kogen beer, as well as a wide variety of coffee and desserts.
Address: 630-8212 Nara Prefecture, Nara, 春日野町16, 夢風ひろば 内
Business Hours: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Average Price: ¥1,000 - ¥1,999
This article has been translated. For even more mouth-watering restaurants, read the original article in Chinese at the link below.