Chef’s Kitchen Issei (シェフズ キッチン イッセイ)

14 Jan

An unfortunate choice.  After not having gone out to eat near Niigata station for a long time, a friend and I decided to try something new. This restaurant was supposed to be a French fusion restaurant, but I am not exactly sure what you would call what we ate.

Instead of describing, in detail, how disappointing each dish of the 6,000 JPY course dinner was, I will say that it was difficult to find the potatoes in the potato gratin, the waitress could not tell us whether or not the consommé soup was beef-based (and the flavor remains a mystery), the vegetables were very obviously frozen, and the beef was nauseatingly fatty.

Negatives aside, the first floor bar area appeared to be a nice place to chill and chat with a friend before or after dinner. I can’t complain about the drinks so I will leave it at that; this is a place to go for a drink not to dine.



Chef’s Kitchen Issei is the type of restaurant I put here to warn against rather than to recommend.


Niigata-shi, Chuo-ku, 1-9-8, 950-0916


Nagomiya Motomu (和味屋もとむ)

4 Aug

This izakaya is absolutely worth checking out. About a 10 minute walk away from Kobari station, bring a group of friends and the friendly staff will set you up with a private table and a delicious menu.

Offering flavorful dishes at a reasonable price (with an all-you-can-drink option of course) with a super friendly waitstaff, I would recommend this izakaya to anyone. The dishes range from 500 to 1,000YEN (6 to 10USD).

Pictured above is a delicious mushroom salad topped with a variety of sauteed mushrooms (shimeji, enoki, eringi, and shiitake) and an onsen egg; a plate of fried tofu (agedashitofu) topped with bonito flakes and soy sauce; and of course a great plate of sushi!

Since there is no website, the address and phone number is:

Niigata-shi, Nishi-ku, Kobari 7-1-17, 950-2022
Telephone: 025-266-0013

Oshinagaki (おしながき)

10 May

This traditional Japanese restaurant in Joetsu offers a wide variety of healthy and delicious dishes. I had a lovely tenzaru soba (soba with deep fried veggies and shrimp on the side). This cost 1,100 Yen (about 12USD). This is a tried and tested restaurant -the friend I went here with grew up in Joetsu and has been here many times -the locals love it.

Check out the website: Oshinagaki

〒942-0071 新潟県上越市東雲町2-3-13
Niigata-ken, Joetsu-shi, Touncho 2-3-13, 942-0071


Nelson (ネルソン)

18 Apr

If you’re looking for a super stylish and delicious restaurant in Niigata City, Nelson’s is the place to go. Hidden away near Hakusan Station in Niigata City, this restaurant serves up Western dishes, from hearty Italian-style pastas, to leafy green and lightly dressed salads, to savory steaks covered with richly flavored sauces. Every dish is tantalizing and satisfying at a relatively reasonable price.

The dishes pictured below are part of a 3,000 Yen (35 USD) Party Plan which is served family style. Although dinner is a great option, Iwould recommend lunch for value.

For more info check out the website here.

Aoshima Ramen (青島食堂)

13 Apr

For ramen lovers who are on a lifetime journey to find new flavors and discover the wonder of the “big three” of Niigata, the famous Aoshima Ramen is an interesting but disappointing experience.

When I reached Aoshima Ramen, I found a single vending machine with its lights flickering outside what appeared to be a one room shack in the Bandai area of Niigata City. There were four options on the vending machine menu: a normal sized bowl, a large sized bowl, extra noodles, and extra topping.

I was definitely surprised to discover that the infamous ginger ramen restaurant, part of a chain originating in Nagaoka, was just a small shop with a maximum capacity of ten, run by two men in a rather industrial kitchen – it just didn’t feel like a place where I could enjoy a meal. It was reminiscent of those cafe areas in a convenience store where people run in, absent-mindedly eat and leave.

Aoshima Ramen is famous for its ginger-flavored broth which is admittedly very tasty but that was all. The noodles were thin, undercooked and tasted like what I’d imaging cup noodles to be like. The overall presentation left much to be desired. Basically, I will avoid saying “don’t try Aoshima Ramen” without going to the original shop in Nagaoka. I will say that if you are wholistic ramen eater, don’t go to the Aoshima Ramen shop in Bandai.

Via BACARO (ヴィアバカロ)

13 Apr

This trendy Italian restaurant is located near the Niigata Prefectural Office (a 15 minute bus ride from Niigata station) and in close proximity to a few other dining destinations. When you walk inside this restaurant the first thing you see is a wine rack, covering the righthand side of the hallway, filled with old vintages and fine selections. Walk past the wine bottles, kitchen, and a set of stairs and you’ll find the downstairs dining area is a spacious but intimate setting.

The waiters, along with the interior design, are warm and welcoming. The menu has a number of options including dinner-for-two, party plan, and the standard a la carte. The dishes change with the seasons and the day while the prices stay around the same range, the appetizer for two pictured below costs 800Yen (9USD), the spicy meat sauce pasta costs 1,000Yen (12USD), and the pizza, depending on the toppings, costs around 1,000Yen (12USD). Whether you’re looking for a bright lunch or an intimate dinner, this is the place for you!

Click here for the restaurant’s website.

TEL: 025-282-3553

Yukiguni (雪国)

2 Apr

Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms!!!

This is a dream destination for anyone who just can’t get enough mushrooms! If you buy maitake mushrooms at the grocery store, Yukiguni might ring a bell. This is one of the largest producers of maitake in the country and this company also grows shimeji, shiitake, along with other varieties of mushrooms.

Come to the home of maitake and try out a medley of mushrooms either fried in tempura batter, lightly sauteed, or slowly simmered in flavorful broth. The amazing flavors of these fungi are released into every aspect of this  tantalizing menu. I’m sure you’ll absolutely love this mushroom mania menu.

The meals pictured below, mushroom tempura, mushroom stew, and mushroom hot pot cost around 1,000 or 1,200 Yen (14 or 16USD).

Access Yukiguni’s website here!

Namitete (ナミテテ)

21 Feb

African Bakery???

You might be just as surprised as I was to hear these words, particularly when thinking about the possibility of this existing in a rural neighborhood of Niigata, Japan. Well, come to Echigo-Akatsuka station, about 30 minutes from Niigata Station, to find out what it’s all about. Although the transportation there and back can be a bit time-consuming, the refreshing atmosphere in this restaurant will make the journey worth it.

The owner and her husband created this restaurant after volunteering in Malawi, Africa through JICA five years ago through JICA. Although most of the bread is typical Japanese bakery fare, there are some specialty breads, drinks, and an amazing atmosphere awaiting you in this cafe. Walk on over for breakfast or a lovely, inexpensive lunch set of three sandwiches and a drink for just 525Yen (6USD)

Nikko Hotel Niigata Serena Restaurant (ホテル日航新潟 セリーナ)

21 Feb

Café Serena at the Nikko Hotel in Niigata City offers a wide variety of lunch options in a buffet-style meal for just 2,000 Yen (25USD). The counters of the buffet are lined with a mix of Japanese and Western dishes, you can choose to indulge in rich cheesy or thick-sauced French dishes or stick to the lean and light veggie-filled options that will leave you with a sense of satisfaction without the guilt. I recommend going on a bright and sunny day so you can accompany your varied and flavorful dishes with a beautiful view and follow your lunch with a nice long walk through the Bandaijima Museum or along the Shinano River.

For more information on the Nikko Hotel’s Serena Lunch, click here.

Mont D’Or (モンドール)

21 Feb

This lovely French cafe hidden on the side streets of Furumachi in Niigata has a surprising selection of unique and delicious food. Although it may be a bit expensive, anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000Yen (24 to 48USD) for a course lunch menu, or more than 4,000Yen for a course dinner, this meal will leave some excellent flavors lingering on your palette.

The lunch menu pictured oyster gratin which was served with a soft but crisp bread, chilled carrot soup, and sea bream wrapped in bacon in a rich cream sauce. Each dish is perfectly proportioned to leave you satisfied but not overly full. Follow these dishes with a delectable dessert of chocolate cake and refreshing sherbert accompanied by a unique coffee and voila, a perfect meal.

The dinner pictured below includes an appetizer of carrot puree and uni (sea urchin) jelly, onion gratin soup, and sea bass dressed in a creamy sauce for the main. The dinner is a bit richer with larger portions and if followed with a coffee and dessert, you might find it a bit difficult to get up and go. Although advertised as French, this restaurant definitely serves up a Japanese take on French cuisine.

Come for the delicious food, come back again for the warm atmosphere, friendly waitstaff, and lovely owner.