Whether you have been here for a few weeks or know the city like the back of your hand, Nagoya is a city that is full of surprises. New restaurants and bars pop up all the time, and you can be strolling down a familiar street and suddenly notice a temple you’ve never seen before.
We all have our favorites, our haunts, our places of sanctuary. In this JIS series, Nagoya residents share their recommendations so you can get to know this amazing, beautiful, eclectic city as well as they do.
Madoka is Nagoya born and bred, and there is nothing she likes more than checking out different restaurants around the city. But despite the variety on offer, she always finds herself coming back to Osteria del Cuore in Yagoto.
“It’s in the middle of a quiet residential area, so it’s not like some fancy city center restaurant, it’s got a real ‘hole-in-the-wall feeling to it. It’s small, with just one chef, but he does great home-style Italian cuisine,” Madoka explains.
“I go there with my family for dinner often, but my favorite time is on a weekend after going to the market at Kosho-ji temple, taking the pleasant fifteen minute walk, and going to the restaurant for lunch. It’s also got a nice little balcony, so on warm days you can sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the breeze.”
Hunter, originally from Virginia, USA, is about to celebrate his seven year Japaniversary, living the whole time just outside of Nagoya.
He is something of a music afficianado, and when he’s not in a craft beer or coffee place, he’s often perusing one of Nagoya’s many record shops. However, he recently found Blue Note Jazz Club.
“Blue Note has got the same atmosphere and intimate vibe as its NYC origin, which is good because that place has set a gold standard of sorts for jazz venues. Beautiful lighting and sound, as soon as you sit down, you know it’s going to be an enjoyable time, It helps that the staff was bustling when I was there and the whiskey was top shelf,” Hunter gushed.
“It’s tucked deep into the underground of Sakae (I honestly think it’s got to be four levels below the entrance), and because of that it almost gives a kind of secret speakeasy feel. It was packed, so I sat beside a collection of people at a table and chatted before the show, which was great and not a super common experience in Japan.
“It seemed to be a real mix of crowds, lots of tables for dining, and back seating for drinks and more private conversations. There’s only the one here in Nagoya and the one in Tokyo (Osaka changed names, I believe), so it’s a real find.”
Manami is another who has lived in Nagoya her whole life, and as such she knows some great spots, but when it comes to recommendations she likes to go a little further afield.
“Chiyobo Inari Shrine is about an hour out of Nagoya, but it is well worth the drive. It is very much a hidden gem, and I am sure that it would be very interesting for foreigners.”
Loved by the locals who call it ‘Ochobo-san,’ the shrine is home to the Inari Okami, the god of agriculture, and many visitors come to pray for prosperity, but that is not why Manami recommends it so highly.
“I love Ochobo-san for the night market. In Japan, these are not regular occurrences except for on New Year, but here they have one on the last day of every month. It is always lively and fun, and they have amazing kushi katsu, and Nagoya’s famous doteni. I love the style of standing in front of a boiling pot of miso and you are served while they are fresh and hot. Though be warned, you may need to wear miso stain-friendly clothes and shoes!”
Jay has lived in and around Aichi for around seven years, with the last three in central Nagoya. Being an outgoing and friendly sort of chap, he likes to go to restaurants where he can really get to know the people there, whether it be the proprietor or the customers, and he finds that at Tomiyama.
“The restaurant is just below Freebell Mansions [a.k.a. ‘gaijin Towers], so there is always a lively combination of both Japanese and foreign customers.
“Fuji san, the owner, is a great guy and always happy to see us. The menu is pretty extensive, but my favorites are the curry udon and the awesome fried chicken omrice curry. It’s got to be tasted to be believed!”