Kumamoto, one of Kyushu’s major city centres, is an understated yet very foodie-friendly destination. Featuring unique Japanese cuisine and drawing inspiration from nearby Korea and China, there’s never a shortage of new culinary adventures in this diverse castle city. From local Kumamoto ramen to raw horse sashimi, to vegan and vegetarian fare, here are seven excellent restaurants in Kumamoto worth checking out.
The island of Kyushu is famous for its unique local cuisine. From rich, flavourful hakata ramen, to spicy and sweet chicken nanban to the eye-wateringly hot karashi renkon (a combination of mustard and lotus root), the best place to try it all is here at Yokobachi, a relaxed traditional-style izakaya (Japanese tavern). Perfect for larger groups, the restaurant’s long tables can easily fit groups over six without too much hassle, and there are English menus available.
For those who like ramen with a bit more body, then Kumamoto’s ramen could be the one for you. Thick and creamy with a fatty, mellow soup broth, Keika’s take on Kumamoto ramen has become so popular that there are now locations dotted across the nation. Although you can try classic Keika ramen in Tokyo, it’s not quite the same as experiencing it in its home city.
If one ramen hotspot wasn’t enough, then pay a visit to Tengaiten – arguably one of the city’s most in-demand ramen joints. Its heavy combination of tonkotsu pork broth, chicken stock, and thick noodles make it the ultimate local comfort dish. The restaurant offers three different dishes: the basic ramen, a spicy version and the char siu ramen, the latter of which draws culinary inspiration from nearby China.
If you’re in the mood for some of the best seafood in Kumamoto, be sure to pay a visit to Amasuka, a popular local sushi hangout. The city’s positioning close to the coast means that there’s no shortage of world-class seafood on offer. Amasuka offers all the typical sushi classics like tuna and shrimp, but for something a little more unique, order the uni (sea urchin) – a strangely delicious combination of sweet and savoury.
If you can’t choose between izakaya classics and fresh-off-the-boat sashimi, then book a table at Isokko Shoten, the Kumamoto culinary icon that has both. Probably best for the more adventurous eaters, some of the menu specialities include basashi, aka raw horse sashimi, and sugata-zukuri, a squid sashimi that’s been cut to retain its original shape.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, or just need a little bit of a culinary change after exploring the heavy world of horse meat and Kumamoto ramen, head on over to Private Lodge Cafe and Diner, the almost secretive little vegetable-loving oasis just down the road from the Kumamoto Castle grounds. As well as offering a broad selection of vegan and vegetarian fare, the peaceful, laid-back café and restaurant regularly hosts yoga and cooking classes.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.