Of course, I can't list all of the places to dine in Iwakuni, but below are a few restaurants that are worth trying. Upon moving to Iwakuni, you will hear about some popular places like these:
- Ganesh - (Indian Food, located in the covered shopping area. Good food, portion-size and prices)
- CoCo Curry (Japanese curry - on Rt.188 across the street from the train station)
- Jan Jaka (Korean style - Rt.188 south from base)
- Sea Jack Sushi (105 Sushi Go-round on Rt. 188, across from Yellow Hat)
- Akiyama Sushi (Sushi Go-round a little farther down Rt.188 from 105 Sushi, across the street from Tokai Fabric Store. Restaurant sign above entrance has Mt. Fuji picture on it.)
- G-Labo Noodle (Follow signs toward the end of the covered shopping area downtown, past Ganesh. G-Labo features some Italian style and Thai quisine and some great desserts.)
- Maple City (Italian - located on Rt. 2 on the way to Otake) Best for lunch; A little pricey for portion size at dinner time.
These are all good and worth visiting at least once, but the ones I mention below are some of my favorites, or simply unique ones, that are worth trying.
If you want exact locations, simply click "View Larger Map" and in the window you can zoom in to see the exact location for each restaurant. Good luck!
Some restaurants may have menus posted outside or plastic versions of entrees displayed so you will know what you are ordering. Others may require going inside and sitting down before you know what they offer. Regardless, many Japanese restaurants offer a variety of food types. Generally speaking, a restaurant will have a particular type, such as: yakiniku, tonkatsu, sushi, okinomiyaki, or tempura style and other traditional methods of japanese cooking. And, like American restaurants, most have entrees available as well as side items.
In Japan, you can expect your waitstaff to be clean, helpful and attentive. Service is usually fast. And, there is no tipping in Japan, which is amazing since the service is so good. I always have great service when eating out in Japan. Even dining at McDonalds is a clean and pleasant experience.
If you aren't sure what you want to eat, feel free to order one thing, try it, then order something else later. In Japan, you don't have to place your full order when the waitperson takes your original order. It is customary to order food a few times throughout the dinner if necessary.
Below are a few restaurants that I have been to and enjoyed. Try them out if you like. Also, for restaurant location, don't forget to check out my Google Restaurant Map by clicking here.
Located in downtown Iwakuni on the first street to your left upon reaching the train station 'circle'. While driving on Rt. 188 to downtown (and with Anderson's Bakery on your right), take a left at the first street light at the traffic "circle" in front of the train station. Gyu-Kaku will be on the left just before reaching the 7-11 (see the second picture).
At this restaurant, an individual grill is brought to your table for orders yakiniku style. Generally speaking, you will order meats and vegetables to grill (cook) at your table. You can order other side items as well. The tables are small, so I don't recommend bringing small children here since there will most likely be a hot grill on your table and with curious little-ones, that could be a disaster. Save this restuarant for date-night or a Girls' Night Out: Excellent service, really great food and reasonable prices for Japan.
Gyu Kaku offers an All-You-Can eat and drink special for two hours. Advertised in the Preview, it's not unusual to see other Americans at this restaurant. Group parties are welcome, but a reservation is necessary. For that feeling of living in the Orient, order warm sake to drink. But, please remember to take a cab - there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving in Japan.
Located on Route 188 just past Marugin Pachinko Parlor and Daiso, out in town from the Monzen Gate. Take a left on the street after Daiso and Gyuta is immediately on your left (next door to Daiso).
This restaurant has the grills set into the table which is a little safer way of yakiniku style in case a child is dining with you. And, as always, grilling your choice of meat and dipping it into flavorful sauces is always fun and tasty. But, what's unique about this restaurant is that on Monday through Friday, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, it's 100 Yen draft beer time. That's hard to beat considering the normal price of beer in town is typically at least five times that amount.
That's not the official name, but this reasonably-priced restaurant has wonderful tonkatsu 'set-to' (fried pork lunch sets). Your lunch set will be a decent-sized meal and very tasty. Their menu has a little English, but it is not spoken here by the waitstaff. However, the Owners and staff are completely American-friently. Bring in your parking ticket to present when you pay (after your lunch/dinner) and they will give you tokens to pay for your parking. This is a great place to try.
This place is a traditional sushi bar/restaurant. Located in downtown Iwakuni, it is on the pricey side of the spectrum. Additionally, although an English menu is available, beware, this is a real Sushi restaurant. The Owner/Head Chef was trained in Osaka. He and his son are always working the left sushi bar upon entering the small restaurant. This is a great place to see interesting old Japanese decor.
Sushi rolls can be purchased, but they are not displayed on a conveyor belt as in the Sushi Go-round restaurants. Sashimi (sliced raw fish) is most abundandtly ordered here, from what I have witnessed. In season, you can chose your own sea urchin from the aquarium and the chef's will prep it for your dining pleasure.
When you try this restaurant, remember to bring a smile and your patience. English is not readily spoken here, but if you bring a translator (or dictionary), some English is understood. Zubora's website is www.zuborasushi.com. They are open for dinner only and closed on Tuesday evenings.
After living in Iwakuni almost 5 years, I recently had my first experience with Shabu-Shabu. This style restaurant has a cooking unit built into the table, but it is topped with a Nabe (nah - beh) Pot and filled with a soup, or two, of your choice. If two soups are ordered, your Nabe pot will be divided so the soups are kept separate.
Meats and veggies are ordered (typically, in a set) just as they are when dining at a Yakiniku-style restaurant. Instead of grilling though, you dredge the piece of meat or vegetable (one at a time) through the stock. We were told to take it from side to side in the pot about 5 times, basically until it is cooked. Then, take the meat or veggie and dip it in your bowl of raw egg (yes, really, raw egg) if you want, and then into a sauce of your choice. You do not have to order the egg. You can shabu-shabu with sauces only if you want.
Ok, I must mention a couple things here. First, Japanese eggs are VERY different than those purchased in the US. First of all, they are very fresh. The yolk of a Japanese egg is actually more orange than yellow, the way they are supposed to be. They also are much for flavorful.
Second, I must admit that I was a little leary of trying the raw egg. My Japanese friend understood and suggested for me not to use the egg. Well, I like to try almost everything once. And, now that I have Shabu-Shabu'd with raw egg, I will order the same way on my next visit to Onyasai.
Two sauces are offered for the final stage of Shabu-Shabu. Both are located on the table. One is a Soy Sauce base and the other is a Sesame base. Both are delicious. Pour each sauce into a separate bowl and try both of them.
After dipping your meat or veggie into the soup, the egg and finally the sauce, you will eat your bite-sized morsel. It is a suprisingly tasty and fun way to dine. Our dinner lasted two hours. As with most Japanese restaurants, you may order more food as the night progresses. There is no need to order all the food that you think you will eat at the beginning of your meal. Eating out at a Shabu-Shabu style restaurant, as with Yakiniku, is definitely a fun way to spend an evening with friends. It becomes a more social and entertaining experience.
For a fun evening, this is a nice wine bar to start off your night. Try the sampler wine with an appetizer plate or two. This is definitely a little more upscale, so go here for a nice evening and not a party night. The owner knows a decent amount of English, so feel free asking questions here.
In the first two pictures above, Appelation's sign is the middle. The road picture is typical of the downtown streets where restaurants and bars are located. Drive with care and always use a taxi if you have drinks. In the evenings and late night, taxis line the downtown streets, so catching one is never a problem. Some taxis do not have access to the Base, but they can drop you off at the main gate or at Four-corners. The picture above-right is at the elevator. As you can see, Appelation is on the 3rd floor (san kai, in Japanese). Across the street is a large park (pictured below), so you will know it when you get to the area.
And, once inside, you will see the bar. There are several tables inside. On weekends, reservations are necessary. 0827-24-3365 Their website is www.winebar-appellation.com.