Flavors of Nagoya: Top 10 Places With the Best Food and Drinks
Experience the different flavors of Nagoya with these exquisite dishes that can't be reproduced anywhere in Japan.
Nagoya is an agricultural center, covered by the long stretch of the fertile Nobi Plain. Abundant with fresh ingredients, Nagoya has developed its own culinary taste that is different from its neighbors. While Kyoto cuisine is generally light with delicate, subtle flavors, and Osaka cuisine is lavish and rich, Nagoya cuisine is hearty and gives the feeling of comfort food. It is arguably the home of some of Japan’s best dishes, and has always been a popular destination for foodies.
So when you’re in Nagoya, whether on a business trip or seeing the sights and you’ve worked up an appetite, don’t miss out on the Nagoya experience with its great food.
Atsuta Houraiken Honten
The perfectly-grilled exquisite hitsumabashi at Atsuta Houraiken Honten: this is where the grilled eel story began
Grilled eel, or Hitsumabushi in Japanese, may be a world-famous dish now, but it was all started by Atsuta Houraiken from this little traditional Japanese restaurant. If you’re looking for the real deal on eels in Japan, then this is the where it all began.
There is almost always a queue at this place, but the wait is definitely worth it. A beautiful Japanese garden awaits you once you step in the doors, if you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a seat by the glass window, in front of the garden. Talk about a meal with a view!
The Hitsumabushi in Atsuta Houraiken is exquisitely savory, with meat so tender it practically melts in your mouth. At ¥3600, it’s practically a steal. As if it’s not good enough plain, there are two more ways to eat this eel—with the seasoning they provide or with both the seasoning and bouillon.
Even though it’s not that easy to get to this restaurant—about half an hour from the Nagoya Station— Atsuta Houraiken is definitely worth a visit. After all, this is the place where Hitsumabushi was born.
Atsuta Houraiken Honten is located at 503, Koubecho, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi
11:30am – 2pm, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays to Sundays and holidays
Closed on Wednesdays
Price Range: ￥2000-￥3600. Credit cards accepted: VISA, JCB, Amex, Mastercard, Diners
Three ways to enjoy the eel: plain, with seasoning, with seasoning and bouillon
If you don’t have the time to visit the birthplace of the grilled eel, then Maruya Honten at the Nagoya Station will be an excellent alternative
Grilled eel restaurants are a "dime a dozen" around this area, but Maruya Honten stands out because they have mastered the technique in grilling the eel to make the taste perfectly balanced. Grilled on a charcoal grill, the meat becomes tender and full of flavor. Their tasty house sauce complements the eel and brings out the meat’s taste, instead of masking it. Served with seasoning and bouillon, you can eat it by mixing the eel with these instead of just eating it plain with rice. Not that the plain option isn’t already mouthwateringly exquisite.
TIP: Go early if you don’t want to wait in line. But even if you do encounter one, I assure you, the wait is definitely worth it.
Maruya Honten is located at Meitetsu Department Store 9F, 1-2-1, Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi
11am to 11pm, last order at 10pm
No fixed holiday. Restaurant schedule follows the department store’s.
Price Range: ￥2,000～￥3,000. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB, Diners
For only ￥860, you get a thick, A-grade slice of hirekatsu (pork fillet), seasoned, lightly breaded and perfectly fried. Included in the price is a fragrant bowl of rice, Japanese pickled vegetables, a steaming bowl of akadashi soup, and as much cabbage as you want!
Shout out to the lovely, delicate miso sauce served with the pork fillet—it is sweet and spicy, which makes the already superb meat taste even better.
If you’re craving for tonkatsu, then Tonkatsu Ishikawa is the place to be. Until now, we’re still scratching our heads at how they manage to make a profit by serving high quality pork fillets at such a bargain price.
Tonkatsu Ishikawa is located at Aichi Sakaemachi Building B1, 3-23-31, Nishiki, Naka-ku, Nagoya
11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm, Mondays to Fridays
11am-9pm, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
Price Range: ￥999. Cash only
Yabaton Nagoya Station
Yabaton first invented the dish now known as MisoKatsu—fried pork cutlets served with a special sauce that is based on special miso instead of soy sauce. But their signature dish is the Teppan Misokatsu, which is a juicy piece of sauce served on an iron plate, where you can still hear the lovely sound and smell the enticing aroma of sizzling meat. One bite is all it takes to realize why people are lining up for this dish. The smoky, deep flavor of the sauce brings out the natural taste of the pork instead of covering it, and it will just blow your mind.
When you’re in Nagoya, don’t leave until you try the amazing MisoKatsu at Yabaton.
Yabaton Nagoya Station is located at ESCA Underground Shopping Center, 6-9, Tsubakicho, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi.
11am to 10pm, last order at 9:30.
Price Range: ￥1,000～￥1,999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, JCB, Mastercard, Diners, Amex
Tucked in a small narrow street in Sakae, Ajidokoro Kanou has been serving great food for sixty years. They serve a great Misokatsu Don with an extremely thick piece of tender, fresh pork, deep fried but with a light batter. The pork is crunchy with a light, subtle flavor, and is served with a miso sauce that is surprisingly light as well. This dish is a favorite with weight-conscious ladies and elderly people who want to eat healthily.
One bite and you will understand why people keep coming to this place.
Ajidokoro Kanou is located at 3-4-110, Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture
11am-2pm, 5pm-8pm, Tuesdays to Sundays
Closed on Mondays
Price Range: ￥1,000-￥1,999. Cash only.
Sekai no Yama chan Meieki Nishiguchiten
The delicious batter-less fried chicken wings with the unique peppery taste
The popular chicken wings called “tebasaki”, which are a perfect accompaniment to a pint of beer, all started here at Sekaino Yamachan in Nagoya. The chicken wings—no batter, just fried with a special peppery, salty-sweet sauce—are so good, once you start eating them, you simply cannot stop.
This restaurant is always full, but when you’re in Nagoya, never fear! There are 5 branches near the Nagoya Station, all within walking distance, so you can easily find another spot if the branch you went to is full.
TIP: A good side dish worth mentioning is the Yamachan salad. The creamy salad goes well with the peppery, salty wings.
Sekai no Yama chan Meieki Nishiguchiten is located at 1-1-14, Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture
4pm-12:15am, last order at 11:30pm, Mondays to Saturdays
4pm-11:15pm, last order at 10:30pm, Sundays and holidays
Price Range: ￥2,000-￥2,999. Credit cards accepted: JCB, Amex
Tenmusu Senju Honten
Located close to the Kamimaezu Station, the tenmusu—or tempura prawn rice balls—is a great alternative to onigiri. A whole fried prawn stuffed inside a fragrant rice ball, then covered with seaweed. Let’s be honest… who wouldn’t like these yummy balls?
Try them freshly made. Smaller than your average onigiri, a couple would be good as a snack, more would be enough for a meal.
Tenmusu Senju Honten is located at 4-10-82 Osu,Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-8650, Aichi Prefecture.
8:30am-6pm, Thursdays to Mondays
Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
The Oyakodon set meal
Lachic is one of the city’s famous places to get great Nagoya comfort food. They make a really good Ebi fry - or shrimp or prawn fry. While you can get Ebi fry anywhere in Japan, I doubt you’ll get ones that are as big as the ones in Nagoya. Succulent, big prawns fried to perfection, served with some salad and tartar sauce. Mouthwatering simple goodness!
Another simple but good dish is the oyakodon, or chicken and egg rice bowl. Lachic’s oyakodon uses Nagoya Kochin Chicken, which is an organic chicken in Nagoya that is five times more expensive than regular, but about ten times as good. The tender, juicy chicken thigh is simmered in a sweet, soy-sauce based sauce then an egg is added on top of a fragrant bowl of Japanese rice. Simple, but hey, sometimes, simple things are the best!
Lachic is located at 3-4-110, Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture.
11am-11pm, open daily
Imagine a rich, deep, flavorsome miso-based bonito broth that is cooking for hours and hours in a clay pot. The clay pot is believed to lend the broth a unique flavor. Add chewy, al dente udon noodles, green onion, chicken and a large ebi fry or two, and this is the dish known as Miso Nikomi.
Nagoya prides itself for using red miso instead of white miso, which is lighter in flavor and favored by the people in the Kansai region. The soup may be a bit overpowering at first, as it uses red miso, but trust me, you’ll get to love the taste and eventually start looking for it.
Yamamoto-ya Honten is located at Horiuchi Building B1F, 3-25-9 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 450-0002
11am-10pm, last order at 9:30pm
Oso Uiro sells uiro, which is a chewy Japanese steamed dessert made of rice flour and sugar. The texture is like mochi, only softer and more jelly-like. Traditionally flavored with yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), matcha, sweet beans or chestnut paste, it is now available in all flavors, such as chocolate or even watermelon. This dessert goes very well with Japanese green tea. Affordable too - a long slice, good for 5-6 people will only set you back about￥500.
Oso Uiro is located at 6-9 Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 453-0015
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