Sushi and Ramen: Kagoshima’s Restaurants Offer the Best of Japanese Food

The panoramic view of Sakurajima makes Aview a very popular venue
The panoramic view of Sakurajima makes Aview a very popular venue | Courtesy of Aview
Celia Jenkins

Kurobuta shabu-shabu, fresh sushi and steaming bowls of meaty ramen – these restaurants in the coastal town of Kagoshima offer the best of Japanese food.

Coastal town Kagoshima is on the southwestern tip of Kyushu, down in one of the warmest parts of the country that gets the first annual cherry blossom blooms. Whether you’re heading down for a weekend or a longer trip, you’ll want to sample some of Kagoshima’s best eateries. From local delicacies to foreign fare to die for, there are restaurants to suit every taste and budget in this vibrant town.

1. Morikazo

Cafe, Japanese

Courtesy of Morikazo

Since the late 1970s, Yama Farm has been the pioneer of growing organic vegetables in Kagoshima. Putting an emphasis on fresh, local produce, their popular ingredients include onion, edamame, carrot, garlic, taro, pumpkin, radish and ginseng. The Morikazo restaurant is located in front of Kagoshima City Hall, and has a relaxed dining atmosphere in what it calls its ‘farm cafeteria’. Its organic carrot juice is a must-try for anyone on a health kick, and you’ll find any plate you order predominantly green and full of fresh vegetables. Organic bento lunch boxes are available with prices starting at ¥800 (£6), but they are in a limited quantity and weekend orders are by prior reservation only. Look out for seasonal specials as well as their amazing cakes.

2. Recife & Tereza

Restaurant, Portuguese, Spanish

recife tereza
Courtesy of Recife Tereza
Recife is a fusion of cultures like no other – a Kagoshima-based restaurant, with food cooked by British chefs, serving predominantly Portuguese and Spanish dishes. This restaurant has a unique atmosphere with a hip interior and stylish furnishings. Choose from the à la carte menu or treat yourself to a course dining set for an extravagant night out. Recommended dishes include the paella, peri peri chicken, Spanish omelette, cheese platter, feta salad and pasta. Individual dishes come in at around ¥1,000 (£7.50), and set courses at ¥3,000 (£22) to ¥5,000 (£37). Recife champions local produce, using fresh vegetables from Hioki and meat from the Osumi peninsula. Its most popular dishes are the fish of the day, pork herb sauté and steak in a homemade porcini sauce. This restaurant is predominantly a wine bar, with bottles chosen by the owners from Portuguese vineyards; there are more than 200 types of wine on offer starting at ¥500 (£3.75) for a glass and ¥2,000 (£15) to ¥3,500 (£26) for a bottle.

3. Ohkatei

Restaurant, Japanese

Sakurajima, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is magnificent, so why not choose a restaurant that has one of the most jaw-dropping views of this natural wonder? One of four dining establishments at the Sengan-en complex, Ohkatei restaurant is the epitome of modern Japanese minimalism, with a sleek wooden interior and windows that dominate the room. Turn up hungry for one of their sumptuous multi-course meals. Popular options here are the sea bream (lightly boiled in a hot dashi soup and served with sesame and ponzu dressing) and local specialities like kurobuta pork hot pot flavoured with yuzu. Set meals cost ¥1,700 (£12.70) to ¥3,500 (£26) and there’s an à la carte menu too.

4. Aview

Cafe, Japanese

Courtesy of Aview

If you fancy another meal with a view, head to Aview, which is both a florist and café. Hearty salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, curry and cakes sit next to bouquets of flowers here, and the smell of fresh ingredients pair with the heady fragrance of seasonal blooms. The panoramic view of Sakurajima makes it a very popular venue. The sweets menu is tempting and the fresh cakes are hard to resist, so head over to Aview on a clear day to enjoy a treat with something stunning to gaze at through the window.

5. Ajino Tonkatsu Maruichi

Restaurant, Japanese

Tonkatsu - panko breaded deep fried pork cutlet
© Frommypointofview / Getty Images
Tonkatsu (a breaded and deep-fried pork or chicken cutlet) is popular both in Japan and in Japanese restaurants around the world, so on your trip to Kagoshima, make a beeline for one of the best tonkatsu restaurants in the city. This popular restaurant often has a queue waiting to be served, but it’s worth it for the extra-crispy homemade tonkatsu and delicious sauces. The menu is simple and though a bit more expensive than other tonkatsu places, you won’t regret dining here. The simple tonkatsu set costs around ¥1,600 (£12), going up to ¥2,600 (£19.40) for larger dishes. The chef speaks English and is happy to make a recommendation. Located in a basement, you wouldn’t stumble upon this place unless you knew it was there, but it’s worth seeking out.

6. Nikan Bashi Burger Bar

Restaurant, Japanese, American, Fusion

Courtesy of Nikanbashi

Want a restaurant that can provide breakfast, lunch and dinner? Nikan Bashi Burger Bar is open for service three times a day with different menus on offer. The breakfast buffet for ¥1,300 (£9.70) is extensive with both Japanese and Western fare on offer, including cereal, bread, rice, salad, fruit, meat, fish and more. Depending on the day of the week, at midday you can choose from the special lunch menu or help yourself at the lunch buffet. For dinner, burgers are the main attraction, and with 10 options to choose from you’re spoiled for choice. We like the look of the salmon, avocado, mozzarella cheeseburger and the Teriyaki burger (both priced at ¥800 (£6) or ¥1,200 (£9)).

7. Ramen Senmon Noriichi

Restaurant, Japanese

Ramen Senmon Noriichi
Courtesy of Ramen Senmon Noriichi

Looking for a cheap eat that’s filling and delicious? Noriichi doesn’t look like much but, for the price, the food is of excellent quality. Grab a bowl of ramen for around ¥500 (£3.75), with sides such as rice or onigiri (rice balls) for ¥100 (£0.75) or an egg for ¥50 (£0.40). If a steaming bowl of ramen is just what you need to fortify you for an afternoon of visiting museums and art galleries around the city, this is a great place to head for a satisfying lunch.

8. Mekkemon

Restaurant, Japanese

Chopstick with nigiri sushi piece
© Ridofranz / Getty Images

Fast service, a friendly atmosphere, fresh seafood and a variety of dishes – Mekkemon has everything you want from a sushi restaurant in Japan. Order from the menu or pick cold dishes from the conveyor belt – sushi plates range from ¥120 (£o.90) to ¥500 (£3.75) per plate. Look out for seasonal specials as well as their popular dishes – seared salmon with mayonnaise, hearty chunks of tuna, amai ebi (sweet prawns), scallops and eel. Udon and seafood bowls are available if you don’t like the pick and mix style of sushi dining.

9. Ichiniisan

Restaurant, Japanese

© Whitewish / iStock

One of the most popular local dishes to try in Kagoshima is the kurobuta shabu-shabu. Kurobuta (back pork) is named after the colour of the animal’s skin rather than the meat. Shabu-shabu is a type of hot pot, named after the swishing sound of the meat in the pan. The kurobuta at Ichiniisan melts in the mouth, and the tonkatsu pork is a great way to sample the meat, too. Set lunches cost from ¥850 (£6.30) to ¥1,350 (£10), and dinner courses range from ¥3,200 (£24) to ¥6,000 (£44.75). There are a number of branches – we recommend the one located in the Amu Plaza.

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