Nagoya's cuisine has undergone its own evolution in this region and continues to thrive. Try some of the local delicacies known as "Nagoya-meshi", including Miso-nikomi udon (Udon stewed in red miso), Misokatsu (Miso pork cutlet), Dote-ni (Stewed beef tendon), which are derived from Red-miso culture, as well as Kishimen (Flat noodles), Tebasaki (Fried chicken wings), and Hitsumabushi (Chopped kabayaki eel on rice).

    Ankake spaghetti (Spaghetti with starchy sauce), Ogura spaghetti (Spaghetti with sweet bean paste), and other Kishoku (Strange foods) are sure to be good conversation appetizers. Why not also try the Taiwanese ramen, which has been invented specifically to cater to the taste of Nagoya people? Here we will introduce some of the restaurants we recommend where you can literally savor the city of Nagoya.


    Mountain (café/light meals)

    Mountain, a long-established coffee shop that opened in 1970, sits at the top of Nagoya's peculiar coffee shop culture. It became a household name thanks to its eccentric menu items, such as "Amakuchi Matcha Ogura Spaghetti" (Sweet green tea and bean paste spaghetti) and "Miso Pilaf," whose flavors are almost impossible to imagine. Since it started out as a restaurant serving large portions popular among students, most of the items on the menu arrive as extremely generous helpings.

    With a nod to the restaurant's name, Mountain also offers a service that stamps Tocho or Sonan on a card depending on whether you finished the meal ("Tocho," or reached the summit) or left some food on the plate ("Sonan," a disaster). Also known as the "House of Strange Food," many fans enjoy visiting this place not only to savor the food, but also as a unique activity.

    Location: 47-86 Takikawacho, Showa Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 466-0826, Japan

    Open: From 9 am to 9.30 pm (last orders 9 pm)


    Sekai no Yamachan Honten (Chicken wings/izakaya)

    Sekai no Yamachan Honten kickstarted a boom in Nagoya's Tebasaki (Fried chicken wings). This restaurant was launched in the middle of Nagoya in 1981 and initially was little more than a food stall. Since then, it has grown into a nationwide chain of specialist restaurants. The recommended menu item is, without a doubt, the Maboroshino Tebasaki (Visionary chicken wings). It has a spicy flavor with a sharp kick from the pepper and is crunchy on the outside and juicy inside.

    In Nagoya you’ll find all kinds of reasonably priced foodie options, including Nagoya's famous Dote-ni (Stewed beef tendon), Miso Kushikatsu (Skewered pork cutlet in miso), and Ebi Tenmusu (Prawn wrapped in rice ball). Located in the heart of Sakae, Nagoya's busiest shopping district, and just a 5-minute walk from the station, this is the perfect place to visit when you arrive in Nagoya for the first time.

    Location: 4-9-6 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0008, Japan

    Open: Weekdays from 5.30 pm to 12.45 am (last orders 11.55 pm). Weekends and vacations from 5 pm to 11.15 pm (last orders 10.30 pm). Only closed over New Year vacations


    Atsuta Houraiken (Hitsumabushi/Japanese cuisine)

    Hitsumabushi is one of Nagoya's most famous foods. The originator of this dish, Atsuta Horaiiken, was founded way back in 1873. Opened in front of Atsuta Shrine, the restaurant was a massive success with too many customers, so they devised a style of serving several people's portions of unagi (eel) in a large bowl. The first bowl of Hitsumabushi was served with unagi shredded into small pieces and blended with rice so that no rice would be left over, and the word "Hitsumabushi" is a registered trademark of the restaurant. The unagi is broiled with a secret sauce that has been continuously replenished over the past 140 years, making it both savory and melt-in-the-mouth tender.

    Remember, the variety of servings is one of the great pleasures of unagi dishes. You could try a standard dish to begin with, then move on to a serving with condiments, and for the last one go for dashi chazuke (Hitsumabushi soaked with soup stock). The Hitsumabushi and Unagi Kaiseki (a set of dishes including Hitsumabushi) are also winners. With 180 seats, the main store is a great place to relax and enjoy these foodie delights.

    Location: 503 Godocho, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-0043, Japan

    Open: Lunch from 11.30 am to 2 pm (last orders). Dinner from 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm (last orders). Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.


    Yabaton (Miso katsu/Japanese cuisine)

    If you' re visiting Nagoya, you really must try Misokatsu (Pork cutlet with miso-based sauce). Yabaton Honten is where it all started. The story behind the secret miso sauce goes back to the time when pork cutlets were dipped in a Dote-Nabe pot using miso, a local food in Nagoya, with absolutely delicious results. You'll find Misokatsu in every corner of Nagoya nowadays, but be sure to try the taste of this old restaurant, which was established in 1947.

    The highly recommended Teppan Tonkatsu features freshly deep-fried pork cutlets on a bed of cabbage on an iron plate, with a generous amount of miso sauce on top. The sizzling sound is enough to whet any appetite. Sirloin Kushikatsu (Deep-fried skewers of pork loin) has been a popular choice since the early days of the restaurant, and it's pretty cheap too. Enjoy it with a beer while looking back at Japan's Showa era, the good old days when tonkatsu was an occasional luxury for the common people.

    Location: 3-6-18 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 9 pm


    Ajisen (Taiwanese ramen)

    Taiwanese Ramen, popular enough to be one of the main dishes of Nagoya-meshi (Nagoya cuisine), is an adaptation of the Taiwanese dish Tan-zai. Stir-fried minced meat and chives are heaped on top of the noodles, served with hen bouillon and plenty of chili peppers for a super-spicy zing. Ajisen is believed to be the birthplace of this type of ramen. Although there are several group stores and branches, the main store is the best choice for a taste of the real thing.

    The reasonably priced menu includes Taiwanese Ramen, garlic fried rice, and gyoza. Once you've tried it, you'll be totally addicted to the spicy yet delicious taste. And if you sense that you're hooked, remember to pick up the Original Taiwanese Ramen Set as a souvenir.

    Location: 3-6-3 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0011, Japan

    Open: Lunch from 11.30 am to 1.40 pm (last orders). Dinner from 5 pm to 12.40 am (last orders). Only closed over New Year vacations


    Nikomi Udon Yamamotoya Honten (Japanese cuisine)

    Miso-nikomi udon (Stewed udon in miso) is widely known as one of Nagoya's leading cuisines. Founded in 1907, Yamamoto-ya Honten is a super-popular udon restaurant with five locations in Nagoya alone. The main store is located near the Daimon intersection in Nakamura Ward, but the Yamamoto-ya Honten ESCA Store is the easiest to access when visiting Nagoya on business or sightseeing.

    Situated in the Shinkansen Nagoya Station underground shopping mall, ESCA, the restaurant is often the last place people go for a Nagoya-meshi dish before boarding the train. Their trademark dish, Miso-nikomi Udon, is packed with home-made pickled vegetables. Other popular versions arrive with Nagoya Cochin (a local breed of chicken), Kitsune (deep-fried bean curd) and Kujo Negi (green onion). The miso is specially brewed, and the mixture of red miso, white miso and coarse sugar is cooked in a cauldron, giving it a rich flavor and umami that attracts many local fans.

    Location: Esca Underground Shopping Center, 6-9 Tsubakicho, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0015, Japan

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm (last orders 9.30 pm)


    Miya Kishimen (Japanese cuisine)

    Kishimen is another Nagoya-meshi option, and this one has an appealing plain and light texture. It has a typical flavor that's been around since the Edo period (1603-1867), and has developed as a fast meal for people who are short on time. The Meidai Kishimen Sumiyoshi restaurant, where you can tachigui (eat standing up) on the Shinkansen platform, is a great choice for business travelers who are on the run.

    Another good option is Miya Kishimen Jingu-ten, located in the precincts of Atsuta Jingu Shrine, if you'd prefer to sit down and eat while sightseeing. This a self-service restaurant that was first opened in 1923, so there's plenty of history here. Choose from red or white dashi broth, and add Negi (green onion) and Ichimi Togarashi (ground red pepper) as you like! The most popular dishes are the flagship menu item, Miya Kishimen, and the Atsuta no Mori Set, which comes with Misokatsu. After a shrine visit, you'll find that the Kishimen is exceptionally tasty as you slurp it down while admiring the greenery of the shrine.

    Location: Within Atsuta Jingu grounds, 1-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585, Japan

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm (last orders 4.30 pm)


    Yokoi (Ankake spaghetti/Western cuisine)

    Although it started out as a "Kishoku" (strange food) of Nagoya, Ankake Spaghetti (Spaghetti with starchy sauce) has since gained fans for its deliciousness and is now firmly recognized as a Nagoya-meshi staple. The pioneer of this dish is the main restaurant of Yokoi. In the days when Japanese people were still unaware of spaghetti, they invented Yokoi's Sauce as a way of getting people familiar with spaghetti, and wow does it has have an addictive taste! You can even buy it as a souvenir.

    The ever-popular Mirakan is a throwback Showa-era spaghetti dish with sausage, ham, bacon, onion, green pepper and mushrooms. You can ask for as much (or as little) of the spaghetti and sauce as you want. And it's not only for lunch, either, as Yokoi also serves a night-only menu with snacks for a choinomi (a little drink).

    Location: 2F Santo Building, 3-10-11 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0008, Japan

    Open: Monday—Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm (last orders 2.35 pm) and 5 pm to 9 pm (last orders 8.35 pm). Sundays and vacations from 11 am to 3 pm (last orders 2.35 pm). Only closed over New Year vacations


    Maruya Honten (Hitsumabushi/Japanese cuisine)

    While Atsuta Horaiken is the inventor of Hitsumabushi, Maruya Honten is the restaurant that elevated unagi (eel) to the realm of art by paying particular attention to the water, rice, and tea used to grow the unagi. Using a traditional sauce kept on hand and replenished for 160 years, the menu for Hitsumabushi is set according to the size of the unagi and the amount of rice. The rice is blended with A-grade rice of the season, carefully selected by a dedicated Rice-Meister.

    The must-try dish is the Jo Hitsumabushi (Special Hitsumabushi), which consists of one whole unagi with a 300g serving of rice. Located on the 9th floor of the Meitetsu Department Store, directly connected to Nagoya Station, the restaurant is easily accessible and there's often a long queue of customers even before the restaurant opens. Be sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare!

    Location: 9F Meitetsu Department Store Honten, 1-2-1 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 450-0002, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm (last orders 10 pm)


    Torigin Honten (Nagoya Cochin/Japanese cuisine)

    Nagoya Cochin, the pioneer of brand-name chickens, was first bred in Aichi Prefecture in the early part of the Meiji era (1868-1912). The best place to savor Nagoya Cochin chicken is Tori Gin Honten. This restaurant has been in business for more than 40 years and is located in Sakae, at the heart of Nagoya.

    Reserving a Nagoya Cochin Hon Kaiseki-Tsuki (Moon Course) is a great choice if you want the full monty, but there are also standard menu items where the food is all based on Nagoya Cochin. Savor your beverages with the popular Cochin Sashimi Goshumori (Five kinds of Cochin sashimi) or Cochin Tebasaki Kara-age (Fried Cochin chicken wings). The Cochin Gomoku Kamameshi (Mixed kettle rice with Cochin), which comes with chicken soup, pickles and dessert and serves about two people, is a genuine feast.

    Location: 1F Miyagi Building, 3-14-22 Nishiki, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0003, Japan

    Open: Open daily from 5 pm to midnight


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