Ganko Yatai: A Night Owl’s Go-To Food Court

ByHugh Cann
Aug 26, 2019

Ganko Yatai: A Night Owl’s Go-To Food Court

Ganko Yatai is basically six small izakayas (Japanese taverns) wedged into one large room make up this lively spot, where beer or sake are served up with the usual izakaya fare, including some local-style okonomiyaki. You quite likely already know the bustling Nagarekawa entertainment district and actually on a side street smack-dab between Yagenbori-dori and Nagarekawa Street. Ganko Yatai isn’t at all hard to find but keep your eye out for the bright red sign over the sliding-door entrance.

It is a lively and somewhat unique place in Hiroshima, well-known among night owls and night hospitality trade. The Japanese word “ganko” can mean unshakable, stubborn, pig-headed. How ever you want to interpret it, the name points to the fact that they just don’t know when to close. Ganko Yatai has been known to still be open until 7 or 8 in the morning. It’s been doing this 6 night a week for over two decades! SO, if you’re looking for that late-night snack or even a gorge head to the Yagen-bori part of the entertainment district and give it a try.

Ganko Yatai comprises 7 stalls: (clockwise from the entrance) Nonki sushi, Kazu inaka ryōri (rural cookery) & oden (hot-pot stewed vegetables and meats), Tajima okonomiyaki and teppanyaki, Heiwa-en Chinese food, Yotchan teppanyaki, Ittetsu grill and charcoal-grilled food, and Mensōre yakitori grilled chicken.

You can feast on a great variety of specialties and you can even order from any of the stalls, wherever you may be seated. They open early evening, but actually it’s around 4 am that Ganko Yatai gets its buzzing. I love that it t feels a bit slap-dash and it’s loud and rambunctious.

Quite possibly you’ll be rubbing shoulders a lot of club hostess and hosts, bar and restaurant staff after work, along with the other night owls people spanning a wide range of ages. Now the thing is, this is an adventure – nobody speaks English and there are no English menus, but it is fun and you’ll find yourself chatting with other customers squeezed next to you.

Nonki sushi [のんき]

You’d think the chef is actually a bit reticent until he exclaims his famous “whoooyyhhaaa!” as he hands you your food. nigiri-sushi (¥150 to ¥800), sashimi, maki-zushi, grilled fish and shellfish, tataki, tempura and other small dishes. Try the crab gratin!

Kazu [かず]

Duffernet types of home cooking, but probably best known for its oden and mouth-watering gari-pon (crunchy pig’s throat cartilage in citrus ponzu sauce).

Heiwa-en [平和園]

A popular place for Chinese dishes. Specialties:  tebasaki-karaage (battered deep-fried chicken wings), mābō-dōfu (tofu in a spicy meat sauce), and niku-dango (meatballs) are the top recommendations, and but you’ve also got your staples like gyoza and ramen.

Yotchan [よっちゃん]

Specialties: Teppan dishes such as meat, sweetmeats, aspara(gus)-bacon, fresh and grilled vegetables plus dishes with melted cheese (tomato cheese bacon, cheese salmon, cheese potato etc).

Tajima [たじま]

Specialties: Okonomiyaki and teppan dishes. Oknomiyaki at Tajima (need I tell you about okonomiyaki?)

Ittetsu [一鉄]

Specialties: Grilled meats, fish, oysters, prawns, mentaiko (spicy cod roe), Yama-imo (mountain yam) cheese yaki…

Mensore [めんそーれ ]

Specialties: Yakitori (grilled skewered meats, seafood, and vegetables)


Ganko Yatai 人情がんこう屋台

3-8 Yagenbori Naka-ku Hiroshima-shi Hiroshima-ken (map link)

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Hugh Cann subscriber