"Everybody does Nara wrong,"
wrote Jay and Sumi Gluck in the classic travel guide Japan Inside Out. They lamented day-trippers who rushed through Nara's attractions and almost certainly missed out on its food.
Cha-gayu - rice flavored with green tea and seasonal vegetables - is the dish most Japanese associate with this very old city. Nara-zuke, the Nara-style pickles served with cha-gayu, can be sampled throughout the city, their zesty flavor a product of the sake used to preserve them.
For those short on time, many restaurants adjoining Nara Park serve a lunchtime mini-kaiseki menu for under Y4000. If you're staying overnight, have a full kaiseki dinner, served with the hospitality Nara is known for. And be warned: Nara is the domain of some two thousand divine messengers - the deer who roam the park and nibble at everything.
Most Nara restaurants take cash only and the locals dine early, so last orders are often taken between 7:30 and 8pm.