Kamakura-area highlights

Whether you're sightseeing and temple-hopping or just enjoying a day at the beach, a visit to Kamakura makes a nice day trip from Tokyo. And when you get hungry or thirsty, here are some restaurant, and bar recommendations in the Kamakura area from Bento.com correspondent Nick Vroman.

Morisaki (Kappo)

Chef Morisaki has been plying his trade since 1998 in this hidden space a few blocks from Kamakura Station. A local following comes nightly for the elegant presentations and novel taste combos, built mainly around fresh local fish and vegetables.

One can order a la carte, but the omakase menu is really the way to go. A beautifully orchestrated recent meal included such dishes as ayu roe, raw local shirasu (baby sardines), grilled barracuda, and figs stuffed with yuzu, among a host of other delectables. The sake selection is small but smartly chosen. The omakase menu plus a few sakes add up to a fine dining experience at around Y7500. [data]

The Bank (Bar)

Housed in a beautiful early Showa-era bank building, this tiny, smartly designed and friendly bar serves up a nice array of single-malt whiskies, tequilas and rums. You'll also find perfectly made cocktails (including one of the best mojitos to be found anywhere!) and a changing menu of well-matched bar snacks. [data]

Esse Lunga (Italian)

Open since May 2009, this friendly and elegant eatery has redefined Italian food in Shonan. From Sicilian-inspired seafood carpaccios to handmade pastas in rich Northern-style ragus to perfectly roasted lamb and pork, nothing is amiss.

The indulgence is amplified by a broad wine selection (all Italian) with ample pours and opportunities to sample. Antipasti range from Y600-1350, primi piatti from Y1100-1800 and secondi from Y1800-3000. Several great wines by the glass are a steal at Y700 and up. [data]

Dolce far Niente (Cafe)

This Italian-inspired cafe covers the bases with coffee variations and tiramisu, cheesecake, gelatos and other desserts. Dolce far Niente also offers a chicken curry and a pleasant array of Italian and fusion pastas. The full back bar stocks a broad range of Italian liqueurs, making it an ideal place to take a break after a long day of sightseeing. [data]

Chilli Padi (Malaysian)

This cozy cafe down the street from Inamuragasaki Station showcases the Chinese-influenced crossover cuisine of Malaysia. Classic rice dishes like nasi goreng share the stage with rich stews and stir-fries, and sides like satay, spring rolls and roti (whole-wheat flatbread). Don't miss the vegetable (okra, eggplant) and egg side dishes drenched in belacan - a wonderfully funky fermented shrimp paste. [data]

Starbucks (Coffee shop)

It's only Starbucks, but it may be the best one in Japan. This branch is housed in a beautiful modernist residence once belonging to manga artist Yokoyama Ryuichi. Drawings of his famous Fuku-chan character adorn the back wall. Sharing the space is a counter offering fruit-sweetened confections from the Shinjuku restaurant Chaya Macrobiotic. [data]

San Mirasole (Yakitori)

On the way to the popular sunset-viewing point on Shichirigahama, this little tachinomiya serves up Italian reds and whites, nihonshu and juices. The small counter displays Mediterranean- and Japanese-inspired salads, home-made onigiri, and some of the best and most novel yakitori in Shonan. Lavender-rubbed chicken breast, anyone? Shio and tare are available, too. [data]

Yuuki Shokudo (Seafood)

Located in the picture-perfect fishing village of Kotsubo, Yuki Shokudou seats about twelve indoors plus a couple dozen more at outdoor picnic tables in the summer. The freshest local catch is served in gigantic portions - either raw, fried, steamed or grilled - all at very reasonable prices. And don't overlook the shirasu ramen, a house specialty. Bring a big appetite and few friends to share the ample and tasty fare. [data]

Gama (Bakery)

The best bakery on the beach. This hole-in-the-wall has a couple of tables for sitting and enjoying coffee or tea with an eclectic range of baked goods while listening to Afro-pop and old ska. Fare includes toothsome focaccia seasoned with Spanish sea salt and resplendent with organic toppings such as tomato, garlic and anchovy. There are also bagels (plain, sage, yomogi and more) and various loaves. The walnut-chocolate country loaf - fresh out of the oven - is to die for. [data]

Miyadai (Korokke)

Miyadai - the funky, rundown meat market near Hasedera - makes the best korokke in Kamakura. With little fanfare but a well-deserved reputation, they make art of the classic plain potato fritter, and offer a dizzying array of variations - meat, chicken, seafood, corn, and curry among others. Your korokke are cooked to order, and you can enjoy them fresh from the fryer with a cold beer or soft drink at one of the small tables lining the walls. [data]

Seaside Cafe (Seafood)

In the heart of the Zushi Marine Resort complex, the unassuming Seaside Cafe dishes up cafe standards - hamburger, chicken kara-age, curry, noodles, salads - but go for their daily fish specials, which they get from the local fish sellers in Kotsubo. The shirasu donburi (baby sardines, locally caught) is ample, cheap and very good. And the nearby wedding chapel makes for great people watching. [data]

Suzunoki Cafe (Cafe/ Chigasaki)

A sunny little cafe nestled within the chain-restaurant wasteland north of the Chigasaki station, Suzunoki serves good focaccia sandwiches and home-made desserts. The lunch specials are a cut above the usual fare and always include a curry (ranging from Indian to Thai to Japanese variations) and an Italian-inspired stew or braised dish. [data]

More in Kamakura

From our Kamakura listings:

Trattoria Piccolo Vaso (Italian)

Tipatina (bar)

Kua 'Aina (burgers)

Taverna Rondino (Italian)

Song Be (Vietnamese)

T Side (Bengali)

Atelier de Vivre (French)

Amato Ichiba (Japanese)

Amalfi (Italian)

See also our full Kamakura/Shonan beach area listings
and area restaurant map.

by Nick Vroman
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