Sendai is a city of culinary adventure. Home to grilled beef tongue and incredible sushi, it’s relatively untraversed by the regular visitor to Japan, meaning there are plenty of secret local hangouts to explore, and no crowds to battle for a seat at the table.
Sendai’s restaurant scene has no strong unifying theme, which is a large part of its appeal. Other pockets of Japan specialise in particular cuisines, but in Sendai, there’s an atmosphere of anything – and everything – goes.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The city’s culinary community is home to chefs that like to innovate. This mentality of invention and challenging of the status quo can be seen in the city’s most famous dish, gyutan (salt-grilled beef tongue), which was invented as a way to cut back on meat waste.
Flanked by snowy mountains on one side and a rugged, bountiful ocean on the other, it’s near impossible to run out of food options in Sendai. Whether it’s high-quality Japanese beef, fresh-caught sushi, fancy French dishes or classic Italian fare, Sendai’s got it.
While calling it a restaurant may be a bit of a stretch, if you’re serious about getting a real taste of the city, then you have to visit the Sendai morning market. Known around town as ‘Sendai’s kitchen’, it’s where the chefs go to pick up their supplies and the locals go for a chat. The market has been running for over 70 years now, and you’ll find all sorts of goodies here, from seasonal fruits to freshly caught sushi. One of the highlights is the food stall Crokke-ya, which sells deep-fried potato, mackerel and pumpkin croquettes for less than ¥100 (£0.70) apiece.
Sitting not far from the untamed coastline of Tohoku, Sendai is a city filled with excellent seafood options, and Kokorozukushi Inase (心づくし いなせ) is a great place to begin. The shop serves seafood caught around the Sanriku coastline and seasonal vegetables in a traditional setting. Kokorozukushi Inase’s main motivation for doing business is to showcase the bountiful produce of the Miyagi region, and its dishes are served like delicate edible works of art. The restaurant feels upmarket, but at an average price of ¥6,000 (£43) per person, it’s far more affordable than it feels.
While in general, craft beer has taken a little longer to catch on here than the rest of the world, places like Craftsman Sendai (クラフトマン 仙台) are making up for lost time. This establishment is a fusion of local ingenuity and international influence. It’s a combination Italian restaurant and craft beer barn where guests can sample some of the country’s most exciting small-batch brews while enjoying world-class Italian cuisine made with locally produced seasonal vegetables.
When Sendai folk want dinner with a view, Restaurant Symphony in The Westin Sendai hotel is one of their top picks. Located on the top floors of the landmark Sendai Trust Tower, Symphony serves up French-style and internationally inspired cuisine with excellent panoramic views of downtown Sendai. Perfect for a romantic dinner or an upscale lunch, the restaurant has both buffet and à la carte options and cocktails to match.
Tucked on the unassuming seventh floor of a commercial building in central Sendai, Datenari is a cosy izakaya (Japanese-style pub) that specialises in high-quality local beef known as sendai-gyu. Sendai-gyu is so highly regarded in the area that it can only be bred by licensed farmers. If you’ve had kobe and wagyu beef, then the next level up is Datenari’s ‘Black Date’ sendai-gyu beef. A course serving of this high-class delicacy costs around ¥10,000 (£72), but you can’t put a price on quality.
Excellent pizza, craft beers and an atmosphere that’s very laid-back, Dumbo Pizza Factory ticks all the boxes for an easy night out. The restaurant serves authentic neapolitan pizzas as well as Western-style sides and has a craft beer menu that’s at least 20 beers long and rotates regularly. If you’re the indecisive type, you can always opt for the banquet deal, which for ¥3,500 (£25) Sunday to Thursday (or ¥5,000 (£36) on Fridays and Saturdays) gets you a menu-wide rage of dishes and three hours all-you-can-drink alcohol.
While eating upmarket is well and good, if you want to get out like a Sendai local, you’ve got to hit one of the intimate smokey izakayas like Gyutan Yakisuke Nagakecho. As per the name, Gyutan Yakisuke Nagakecho’s main speciality is yakisuke, a simple but delicious dish of salt-grilled beef tongue that’s been masterfully roasted over hot coals that is best enjoyed with a tall frosty ‘nama’ (tap) beer. If you’re a big drinker, consider booking the 150 minute-long all-you-can-drink pack that offers free-flowing booze for ¥2,100 (£15).
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.