Back in the day, when I was embarking on this writing game, I imposed three cardinal rules upon myself: 1. Only write about cool bands; 2. Never write bullsh!t advertisements for brands that you don’t believe in for the man; 3. Never cut your hair shorter than your earlobes. You see, I was like Richie Edwards, 4 Real. Not that I liked the Manic Street Preachers, of course. No, they were way too mainstream, man.
And where do I stand on those rules now? Well, number three was ruined by my gene pool (and may you forever burn, great-uncle John, the only other bald member in my entire extended family) and number one… Well, there’s not much to write about Belle & Sebastian, Hefner, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor nowadays.
But as for shilling, no way. To this day, I only (well, mostly) write about cool places. This is why you can (mostly) trust me when I tell you that places are tops and are definitely worth visiting. That the places below have connections to the community here should most definitely not put you off because they are all ace (most definitely).
Something of a regular haunt for us at Japan Info Swap Towers, Coat of Arms has all sorts of foods sourced from the nations that make up the British Commonwealth and even further afield. But it is the poutine – french fries topped with aged cheddar cheese and a light gravy – that is the pick of the bunch.
It’s also a great place to watch sports (it was where I spent my entire soccer World Cup in 2018). I’ve been going there since it opened, and it’s always a cool place to hang out, meet people – local and expat alike – and kick back with a beer or twelve. But hey, that’s just me.
Okay, I’ve got a question for you: What’s more of a Nagoya icon than Shooters? The castle? Okay, fair enough. TV Tower? Sure. Terrible drivers? Hmmm, you’re scraping the barrel now, aren’t you? But the point I’m trying to make is that Shooters is a Nagoya institution, so much so that it even appears in the Tom Selleck movie Mr. Baseball.
This city’s closest thing to a true blue American sports bar, Shooters does ice-cold beer, top-notch food, has sports on TV, pool and Fussball tables, and a shot list as long as a giraffe’s arm. Oh, and don’t miss ribs night, because [adopts a Homer Simpson voice] if you do…
Back in 2017, Robb Shannon had a dream to recreate his childhood days, a time when his grandfather would fire up the smoker, the scent of barbecue would fill the air, and his uncle would mount a full pig on the spit. From that day, Robb had a dream, and Midtown BBQ is the culmination of that.
I first met Robb when he opened his previous restaurant, Sienna, which served the best burger in Nagoya. It was great, but sparks flew in Robb’s head and the patrons’ mouths alike when they had their BBQ nights. Now he has the best, most authentic barbecue spot in Nagoya, plus an additional restaurant in Yokohama, and their sauce is even sold in Costco to Robb’s own tried-and-trusted recipe. But you don’t need to go to Costco; you can go to the source. (Come on, that was a good joke, right? No? reread it out loud. Still no? Phew, tough crowd)
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Poutine, ribs, and barbecue? Don’t you ever eat anything healthy, Mark?’ To which I reply, ‘who are you, my mother?’ (Oh, and if you are, hi, mum! Did you get your birthday card yet? No? Tsk, must be Royal Mail’s fault because I definitely sent it) Actually, no, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
Queen’s Healthy Diner is Nagoya’s best vegan restaurant, run by Nagoya’s famed hip hop star Vinny Vintage and, more importantly, his wife, the eponymous Queen. Now, in full disclosure, I’ve never visited myself, but my editor Ray, he who must be obeyed, has been numerous times and raves about the place. They do an excellent Penne Arrabbiata, and of course, there are some delicious fresh salads, but they also put together some mouthwatering non-meat meaty dishes. Vegetarian chicken burritos? Delicious. Vegan chicken pizza? Impossible to tell from the real thing. Tonkatsu ramen? Yes, seriously, vegan tonkatsu ramen, and from what I’ve heard, it’s oishiiii!
Editors Note: I do insist on being obeyed, it’s true. The burritos here are the thing wherein she’s caught the attention of the King! But it’s all excellent, pricy, as vegan food is, but excellent, and the proprietor is among the best hosts in town, in my opinion, second only to my man Eddie at Links Bar. You might drop-in for the food, but you will come back to say hi to the staff, guaranteed. Be sure to check out the hot sauce selection; it rivals mine!
Image: by MIKI Yoshihito via flickr.com [CC BY 2.0] – modified
Image: by Jun Kano via facebook.com