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Izushijo
Izushijo I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Hidden culinary gems in Hyogo Japan

Dig into sushi, wagyu, and soba on this side of the Kansai region in Japan.

Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Tatum Ancheta
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Osaka may be renowned for its culinary scene, but it doesn't hold the exclusive rights to quality cuisine in the Kansai area. If you're planning your next dining adventure in Japan, consider venturing west of Osaka and Kyoto to Hyogo prefecture. We recently embarked on an off-the-beaten-path journey and discovered hidden dining gems many may have yet to hear about. Whether you have a craving for sushi, soba, or grilled wagyu, these are the restaurants you absolutely have to add to your itinerary.

Note that prices indicated on this feature are approximate and may change due to the ever-changing currency exchange rates. 

RECOMMENDED: Discover off the beaten path experiences in Japan. Want something closer to home? Check out the best Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong. 

Check out the video below for a peek at the experiences:

Hidden culinary gems in Hyogo Japan

Orizuru
Orizuru I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Orizuru

Sushi joints are a dime a dozen in Japan, so finding one isn't a challenge. But if you're looking for a place with a rich history, head over to Kinosaki Onsen town and step into Orizuru, a sushi restaurant that has been serving customers since 1942. The name Orizuru translates to origami crane or paper crane, and like the intricate folds of the crane, this restaurant has evolved and flourished alongside the town itself, from the first sushi chef to the current third-generation chef. Every sushi chef at Orizuru has undergone rigorous training at some of Japan's most prestigious sushi establishments, honing their skills and acquiring the knowledge required to create top-notch sushi and sashimi. Enjoy nigiri or sushi, crafted with the freshest seafood of the day (starting at HK$108.19), and warm your belly with a comforting bowl of miso soup (HK$22.78).

396 Yushima, Kinosaki-cho, Toyooka City, Hyogo 669-6101, +81 796 32 2203, ori-zuru.com

Ohashi
Ohashi I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Ohashi

Ohashi is a family-owned restaurant in Yabu, Hyogo, known for its modern Japanese cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Chef-owner Dohgaki Akira decided to return to town when the Fairfield by Marriott Hyogo Tajima Yabu hotel opened, recognising the opportunity to showcase the region's abundant produce. Visitors can savour à la carte dishes (starting at HK$155.31) or opt for set menus featuring diverse courses (starting at HK$258.98). One standout offering is their bento box, artfully presented with an assortment of fried, pickled, and raw dishes like tofu, shrimp, and stuffed squid. Additionally, you can order the restaurant's signature Japanese hot pot, where you can dip meat, fish, and a variety of vegetables into their flavourful dashi infused with bonito, seaweed, plum, and tea. Those looking to pair their dishes can choose from a selection of wine, sake, or drams of whisky from chef Dohgaki's Japanese whisky collection, which includes exceptional offerings from distilleries such as Yamazaki, Nikka, and Mars Shinshu, among others. 

250-2 Yokacho Takayanagi, Yabu, Hyogo 667-0043, +81 79 660 1991, instagram.com/ohashi.yabu

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Izushijo
Izushijo I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Izushijo

Soba noodles made from buckwheat are beloved throughout Japan, yet Izushi sara soba from the historic castle town of Izushi holds a special place due to its unique presentation. Served on Izushi-yaki plates in small portions, guests at Izushijo can enjoy these stone-milled noodles while dining in tatami-floored rooms. Each soba order (HK$51.79) comes with five plates of soba per person, and those who dare can surpass the previous record of devouring 30 to over 40 plates in one sitting. Izushi sara soba is enjoyed cold, dipped in chilled dashi stock, and topped with green onions, grated yam, raw egg, and wasabi. After the meal, the remaining dashi can be mixed with hot soba water for a comforting drink. Aside from noodles, Izushijo also offers an array of tempura, dumplings, meat dishes, and rice (starts at HK$124.31 per set).

189 Izushicho Machibun, Toyooka, Hyogo 668-0221, +81 796 52 2552, izushijyo.co.jp

Grand Chef
Grand Chef I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Grand Chef

Great for enjoying a teppanyaki feast, Grand Chef is a steakhouse located in Asago, Hyogo. The family-run restaurant has been in operation for 16 years, and it specialises in grilled Tajima beef. The head owner, who is also the teppanyaki chef, cooks up sizzling grills of meat while his wife serves and hosts the guests. The menu at Grand Chef changes daily, ensuring that each visit offers a new and satisfying culinary experience with the freshest ingredients available. The set menu prices start from HK$517.95 per person and may vary based on the types of beef chosen. In addition to meats, the restaurant also serves grilled oysters, scallops, shrimp, and vegetables.

330-3 Wadayamachohirataoka, Asago, Hyogo 669-5215, +81 79 670 3117

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Restaurant Bouquet
Restaurant Bouquet I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Restaurant Bouquet

Le Bouquet is a cosy and retro-themed restaurant that first opened its doors in 1973. The interior design creates a warm and homely atmosphere, resembling someone's personal space, complete with a piano, knick-knacks, and comfortable dining seats, as well as low tables on top of tatami flooring. Guests can enjoy their meals while admiring the picturesque view of Yoka through the large glass windows or from the terrace, offering panoramic mountain views. It's the perfect spot for gatherings, luncheons, or dinners. The menu features a variety of dishes, including Tajima beef steaks, hamburgers, and their signature fried jumbo tiger prawns, served with rice or bread (prices range from HK$52 to HK$218). Once a month, the spacious venue hosts live jazz nights featuring talented performers from the Tajima region, Kobe, and Osaka. 

258-8 Yokacho Koyama, Yabu, Hyogo 667-0032, +81 79 662 3718, e-bouquet.jp

Aceto
Aceto I Photograph: Tatum Ancheta

Aceto

Heading back to Kyoto? While this spot is not located in Hyogo, if you happen to be passing by Miyazu City after visiting Amanohashidate, one of Japan's celebrated scenic sites, this restaurant is an absolute must-try. Although Italian cuisine may not be the first thing that comes to mind when visiting Japan, this local Italian restaurant in the Tango area of Kyoto aims to promote its region and utilise local ingredients to create delicious dishes using Italian culinary techniques. The restaurant is owned by a local vinegar brewery and was established in 2017. Guests have the option to choose from three set menus, which include seafood, meat, and the chef's signature dishes. Starting at HK$285, you can already enjoy a medley of seven seafood courses, which includes risotto and pasta dishes. Enhance your dining experience by pairing your meal with local wine and sake, or enjoy a sip of the locally produced pale ale Asobi by Kakehashi Brewing, made using lemony and grassy Columbus hops.

1968 Shin-hama, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture 626-0016, +81 772 25 1010, aceto.therestaurant.jp

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