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Nagoya eating plan

I'm really looking forward to my next trip to Japan. While there's a lot of family to visit, this is the first trip in a while where I get to plan my own travels around eating. One of my stops will be in Nagoya. It'll be my first time there, so I've been doing a bunch of research, and from watching enough Japanese food television, I've gotten to know that Nagoya is an interesting food city, with regional specialties that outnumber most other Japanese cities. First, when you hear Nagoya, one of the first things that pop to mind is chicken. The local breed known as Nagoya-kochin is one of the featured ingredients, and there are plenty of yakitori-yas and other higher-end places dedicated to serving it. On the lower end, there are a bunch of places serving chicken wings. The other thing that comes to mind when thinking about Nagoya is miso (specifically hatcho miso, the dark miso). The addition of miso imparts its own local flavor to traditional Japanese dishes, like sukiyaki, oden, tonkatsu, udon. The few other signature Nagoya specialties are hitsumabushi (unagi), kishi-men (a fetuccini-like noodle soup), and ten-musu (onigiri with shrimp tempura). While I'll only have a couple days in Nagoya, I plan to make the best of what I can sample.

I'll be staying in the Sakae area, so most of the places are in or around this area, or closer to Nagoya station. I want to also visit the Chikusa neighborhood, but I'm not sure I'll have time to do that. So here is a list of places I came up with that looks like what I want to sample. I'm hoping to get some comments on any places that could improve my Nagoya eating experience.

Nagoya Kochin chicken
Torigin http://www.torigin.co.jp/course.html I'm really drawn to this place for the variety of Nagoya-kochin dishes, besides just yakitori. I'm especially looking at the kochin sashimi moriawase. Compared to other places I've seen online, it looks like a value as well.
Kululu http://www.taste-net.com/kululu/main.... This looks like another place for good value, with more of an izakaya feel.

Tebasaki (wings
)Yamachan http://www.yamachan.co.jp/index.html I'm told you can't go to Nagoya without trying the main chicken wings joint in town. Yamachan is suppose to be the quintessential place.
Furaibo http://www.furaibou.com/furaibo/top.htm Though they have a couple places in LA, I'm curious to know if the original Furaibo are head and shoulders above the ones in LA.

I guess it'll just come down to which one's closer during lunch.
Ibashou http://cep.jp/pc/shop/943_1.html
Shirakawa: http://www.hitsumabushi.jp/osinagaki.htm

Miyakagi http://g.nadesiko.jp/miyakagi/ Take a look at that photo of the miso sukiyaki. I might make a beeline for this place. It's been in operation for over 100 years, so it's pretty old school. (Here's another page http://www.rurubu.com/sight/sightdeta...
)Yamamotoya Souhonke http://www.yamamotoya.co.jp/ This looks like the place to get Miso udon.

Instead of the regular sauce that comes with tonkatsu, in Nagoya, they make it with miso, and every place seems to have their own special recipe. I know I won't be able to visit many of these places, but I can try.
Ishikawa http://www.azinomise-ishikawa.jp/
Kurobutaya ramuchii http://g.pia.co.jp/shop/6689 (Here's another link http://www.bbgourmet.jp/bbg/detail.do...
)Ajidokoro Kano http://gourmet.yahoo.co.jp/0001630044...
Katsumasa http://www.katumasa.jp/00frame.htm

Ramen isn't a big specialty of Nagoya, but his place looks pretty good. It looks like a Nagoya specialty ramen.

Miyaki http://www.miyakishimen.co.jp/ This looks like the big local chain for kishimen. I can't seem to find much more in my searches, so if anyone has some good recommendations for kishimen, I'll look out for it.

Looks like I'll have to grab a bunch of these for my train trip to Tokyo. I understand there are many little joints around that have it like bentos.

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  1. Don't pass up the "aka-miso lager" from Kinshachi, a brand of local beer.
    Sounds absolutely horrible, but tastes great as the red miso is way in the background, but adds an interesting tang to the beer.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      Do you know of a interternational beer importer or a place I could possibly buy this Kinshachi's red miso lager from.


      1. re: tpardo5808

        As we speak, a New York importer of sake is negotiating with the brewer of Kinshachi Red Miso Lager to import the beer into the US, along with other beers they produce. Should be available in NYC by spring...

    2. I just flew back from Nagoya last night. Our hotel was next to the Kanayama station (ANA hotel) and after our visit to the Nagoya castle, i had a craving for an authentic katsudon (breaded pork, egg, onions and mushroom atop a heaping bowl of rice). We went up the top floor of the Parco shopping center in Sakae and sampled the TONKATSU WAKO restaurant across from the most famous korean bbq place called YUMMY.

      I had a great experience there and regret that I only spent 16 hours in Nagoya. I'll be back in February (dead of winter-brrr) and i'll definitely wait for your review of the restaurants you mentioned above.

      1. I'm intrigued about Torigin. Particularly, that little 3-tier shelving unit in the 9,800 YEN course. What's that all about?...I guess I always equate chicken as a sort of blue-collar approach, either on sticks or grilled as large pieces. If it were me, I'd probably do the more down-home yakitori approach- maybe try a big momo-yaki or something, but Torigin certainly looks intriguing...

        Miso-suykiyaki sounds great. That definitely seems like a regional dish...The ramen looks interesting too. They're boasting it as Taiwan style which pretty much means strong/bold/rich flavors...That unagi set looks devine and the tenmusu, as sacriledge as they are, sounds pretty good.

        Overall, Nagoya seems to be pretty bold in everything flavor-wise. Geographically it's closer to Kyoto than Tokyo, but that cuisine looks way different from the old capital....Looking forward to your on-the-ground reports...

        1. I lived in Nagoya for 3 years and just had a business trip back there this week. Here are my recommendations:

          1 Hitsumaboshi = go to Horaiken. Supposed to be one of the best in Nagoya and I would agree. It is in the Matsuzakaya building (top floor)in Sakae. So it should be walking distance for you. Ask anyone and they will know the place.

          2. Miso Katsu - There are lots of good places but one of the more popular places is a place in Osu Kanon (walking dist to sakae). I cant remember the name but look for the big pig wearing a red apron sign. They also opened a shop in a building in Sakae (overlooking central park green belt). Cant miss!

          3. Ramen is my passion. Misen is a good call. But if you want to try a wide selection in one stop, go to the Nagoya train station and there is Ramen alley located near the shinkansen entrance. About 8 different styles of ramen.

          4. Shabu sha bu - cant miss with Kisoji (sp). There are several of them in the Sakae area. Go for the tatami room setting.

          5. There are lots of little bento box places before you jump the shinkansen to Tokyo but one of my favorite things to do is grab a variety of foods from the basement of the Matsuzakaya dept store in the Nagoya train station. You can buy a couple of musubi, a few piece of yaki tori, gyoza and make your own lunch (much fresher and with the things you like).

          I could go on and on but this should get you started.

          1. I realize this is months late, but I lived in Nagoya previously, and still go there quite frequently both for business and family reasons.

            The miso-katsu place scionxb mentions above is called Yabaton. It is has become a chain since I first started eating there years ago, but the honten in Yaba-cho still has the best misokatsu you can get in Japan. If you are time-limited and cannot make the trek over to Yaba-cho, they have branches both in Sakae in the new "La Chic" building as well as in the underground mall next to the shinkansen side of Nagoya Station.

            Another big recommendation for Nagoya is Garuva, which is located in Sakae. Garuva might be considered more of an izakaya than a restaurant per se (their hours are 6pm-5am I think), but the food is excellent and the atmosphere is unique and intimate. The place has a silk road style with each table being hidden in a "tent" which seats up to 4 on cushions surrounding the table. The lighting is turned way down, and you eat by the light of a single candle on the table. The menu is something of an East Asian fusion style, I guess. My wife and I have two dishes which we *always* order: gyuuniku no katatataki--pan seared beef tataki served with thinly sliced daikon and some kind of sauce that is like crack cocaine it is so addictive, and kyokutou shiromizakana--a fried whitefish accompanied by a spicy Chinese pepper sauce. If you go to Garuva, make sure you go to Garuva I and not Garuva II, which has a completely different atmosphere and doesn't really pull the menu off as well.

            1. Also, Sekai no Yamachan completely blows away Furaibo for tebasaki. Luckily, it seems many people in Japan agree with me, as they have expanded beyond the borders of Aichi-ken. You can now find Yamachan in Tokyo, Osaka, and other places along the toukaidou. I even see on their website that they've opened a place in Kyushu.

              1. I just came back from Nagoya yesterday, my first visit there in about eight years I guess. I went to Yamachan and interestingly enough they carry the Nagoya Aka Miso Lager I wrote about in a previous post, and manage to sell it for 690 yen (it retails for 440 yen) which is a good deal. Anyway, I found the wings to be VERY "Nagoya" -- i.e. very richly seasoned, nearly to excess. They had tons of salt, pepper (two kinds?), soy sauce, sugar -- the works. Were they good? YES! Would I have them again? Of course. Yamachan also had something that blew my mind -- yaki-gyoza with **crispy chicken skin** as wrappers, four for Y390. For a crispy skin lover like me, it was great.

                Best of all, Yamachan has a bajillion branches all over Nagoya, and several in other parts of Japan, too, including 10 in Tokyo, 2 in Kawasaki, four in Hokkaido, etc.

                www.yamachan.co.jp The site is in Japanese only, but if you read place names it's pretty handy. Great pictures, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tripeler

                  Tripeler, "Roman-ya" in Yoyogi-Uehara, Tokyo (You know where that is, right? ;) ) also has those chicken skin gyoza.


                2. Silverjay, thanks for the tip! Right under my nose, too.

                  1. This is great info as I will be in Japan for 3+ weeks in Apr/May 08 and am desperately seeking recs for Nagoya, Tokyo, Takayama, and Kyoto. Thanks all

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jmsvss

                      Hi, I just spent last week in Nagoya. I would second all the local recommendations but also want to mention that there is a surprising number of really imaginative restaurants of other cuisine. We had an outstanding meal at "Jin" which is run by an owner-chef who trained at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo. His meals are a kind of Japanese/French kaiseki fusion, in a small restaurant with great decor and a really sophisticated atmosphere.

                      We also had wonderful Italian at Kitchen on the 12th floor of the office tower that houses the Nagoya Marriott Associa. Normally, I wouldn't bother with Italian in Japan, but I had been feted so many times by my Japanese hosts that I asked them to choose where they wanted to go. They chose Kitchen by Roberto Cuomo, and it was outstanding. The brick oven pizza is not to be missed and I'd highly recommend the tasting menu -- five courses including their version of antipasto, pizza, pasta, a meat dish and a dessert. (There is also a branch in Tokyo.)

                      For bento boxes and carryout, check out the food halls and restaurants in Takashimaya. There is a branch of Peck's and also a Fauchon, as well as the usual assortment of Japanese food. You can walk right in from the train station and it's like foodie paradise.

                    2. I lived in Nagoya for 10 months for study abroad in Hibino. The best ramen I've eaten in Japan has been in two places... one hole in the wall place in Tokyo, the other in Nagoya. If you're not stuck on eating Nagoya-traditional ramen, PLEASE go to Tsuru no Mae ramen shop at the tsurumae subway stop. Once you get out, it's not even a block away. It is amazing. Their yuzu broth and their red miso broth with butter and corn are to die for.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: nomnomprincess

                        Not much on Nagoya in the last year, are places mentioned here still among the best?

                        Maybe Horaiken (eel), Yamamotoya Souhonke (kochin udon), Yobaton (katsu), Yamachan (wings) and some tenmusu and other stuff from one of the dept store food courts would cover food for a couple of days?

                        I saw una fuji mentioned in another post, how does that compare to the other eel places in this thread?

                        1. re: JacksonH

                          I would definitely add a Nagoya Cochin specialist to your list. I like Torishige; they seem a bit quieter and more sophisticated than the usual places, but Torigin seems to be well rated. Suzunami is good for grilled fish, and you might want to try kishimen somewhere if you want the complete Nagoya experience. The katsu place is called Yabaton by the way (in case you want to search for it). It's also listed at http://bento.com/ra-nagoya.html along with the other places mentioned here.

                          1. re: Robb S

                            Thanks for the correction of my botched spelling and especially for the bento.com reminder, Robb. I'll definitely have to check out 23 Craft Beerz Nagoya.

                            It looks like Torishige has some rather reasonably priced lunches.

                            I definitely want to try kishimen, I had mistakenly thought that was what they serve at Yamamotoya. Maybe I will give Ebisuya a try.

                            1. re: JacksonH

                              Torishige is famous for their lunchtime oyako-donburi. Keep in mind though that yakitori shops and other chicken specialists, and izakaya in general, are much better and more representative in the evenings. Generally during the day they offer inexpensive rice dishes for the budget lunchtime crowd.

                              Ebisuya, on the other hand, is probably better in the daytime.

                              1. re: Robb S

                                If you want an izakaya that's better for lunch than for dinner, Nenohi is a good bet. It is a Nagoya-based chain (owned by the Morita-ya sake brewery, of Sony fame), but the head office has a branch which I think is the best: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/n648901/

                                Their akadori is to kill for.

                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                  Great information in this thread. Yeah, I might want to sample the chicken better than just in a donburi. But then I also don't want to spend 5,000 yen on dinner every night either.

                                  What is akadori? Is that a different type of chicken than Kochin?

                                  1. re: JacksonH

                                    Well, most of the other Nagoya specialties on your list are pretty cheap - miso udon, miso katsu, wings at Yamachan, etc. Even eel - if you get one of the less expensive meals at Bincho for example, it doesn't have to be that expensive.