10 Myoko restaurants to discover after a day in the mountains

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Inbound travel to Japan is expected to make a post-covid comeback. For those who love Japow, this puts Myoko back on the menu. Many hungry powder enthusiasts see the Japanese food scene as the icing on the cake of a day plowing fresh snow. For many others, it’s the main course. Either way, Myoko has more than its fair share of taste heavens. Here are just a handful.

Pontaro

A few hundred meters from the Akakura Kanko ski resort gondola, Pontaro is an izakaya restaurant, one that sells small dishes a bit like tapas. This makes it a great option for indulging in traditional Japanese dishes while still offering variety – everything from yakitori to okonomiyaki and noodle dishes. Of course, the drink menu is just as diverse with beer, nihonshu, shochu, whiskey and wine. The bonus is that Pontaro has a reputation for quality among locals and past visitors.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Shin Akakura
More information

Nihontei/Tsugumi

For this entry, you get a two-for-one deal. Nihontei and Tsugumi are just under two miles apart and share the same owner. While the decor couldn’t be more different and the dishes vary a bit, these restaurants share an apparent commitment to deliciousness. Nihontei is an izakaya on National Route 18 very close to the Myoko Kogen interchange. It is the original of the two and visitors are often surprised by the “rustic” atmosphere of the place. Do not be discouraged.

A few minutes up the mountain inside the Alpen Blick (Landmark) Onsen building is the younger brother, Tsugumi. Due to its newer establishment, Tsugumi is a bit more modern than Nihontei. Equally delicious, must-haves include the jingisukan (the Japanese pronunciation of “Genghis Khan” – as grilled lamb is called in Japan) and the seafood salad.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Nihontei – Myoko Kogen (Route 18), Tsugumi – Ikenotaira
More info – Nihontei
More info – Tsugumi

Unnamed Myoko

This coffee shop is owned and operated by Kimi and Miyu of Japow House and is located diagonally across from Myoko Snowsports, right in the heart of Akakura Onsen. They try to incorporate as many local Myoko ingredients as possible into their dishes.

In addition to specialties at the chef’s discretion, regular dishes such as croque monsieur, smoked chicken peperoncino, burgers and other treats. To accompany it, beers, sakes, whiskeys, gins and hot apple cider from Nagano.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Akakura Onsen
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Yabu Soba

Kirishita Soba Yabu, or simply Yabu Soba, is directly across from the post office on the Myoko Kogen station side of Route 18. This can make it a bit difficult for those traveling to Myoko without a car, but for those who can go, you won’t find better soba.

They have other dishes too, of course, and all the noodles are homemade, which gives it an edge you won’t find anywhere. Add to that the traditional atmosphere and fantastic service honed over six decades, and it’s a pretty good bet for a great meal.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Myoko Kogen
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Zen

Zen Restaurant is located at the Silverhorn Hotel in Shin-Akakura, just in front of the gondola. Even if the location is not convenient enough for you, they can arrange free pick up and drop off from any accommodation in Myoko. This is particularly convenient if you want to enjoy a freshly made cocktail or one of the selected international wines.

The drinks aren’t necessarily the highlight though. This would be the ever-changing West Japanese fusion menu.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian/Vegan Options: yes
Area: Shin Akakura
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Arakin Ramen

You’ll find this local favorite diagonally across the Ikenotaira intersection from the onsen Alpen Blick (landmark) that is home to Tsugumi. Although the name of the establishment indicates that ramen is on the menu, there are also many other options. So consider it an izakaya more than your average ramen joint.

Arakin’s specialties include shio chashumen (salt-flavored ramen noodles with minced pork) and braised pork and cabbage. Being izakaya style, there is also plenty to offer for those who are thirsty after a long day of gliding on Mount Myoko.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Ikenotaira
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Udon no Fu

As the name suggests, this is an udon restaurant. It was very popular in its old location under the now closed Pomodoro Pizzeria along the main street of Akakura Onsen. Now in a new location not far away, it still sells delicious food.

Like Pontaro, Udon no Fu can be considered an izakaya restaurant, however, the signature dish is squid ink udon. If the black broth and plastic apron that comes with the dish hints at a gimmick, know that it’s definitely not. You’ll want to use the apron as you dive deep into the bowl of delicious garlic flavor. Ask your hotel staff where to find the new location.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
Area: Akakura Onsen
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The last three entries on this list are not in Myoko Kogen but fairly semi-accessible and too delicious to pass up.

Roasting by Nojiri Coffee Company

Opened in mid-2022, Derrick and the Roastery team found instant success with their combo of great food, drink and ambiance. The Roastery specializes in authentic California cuisine (read; mouth-watering burgers and wings that can’t get into your mouth fast enough), craft beer, and, as the name suggests, specialty coffee.

Located right on the edge of the lake and with a view to starting coffee tastings very soon, The Roastery offers a unique view and experience away from the mountains when visiting Myoko. When winter comes, they will start transfers to and from Myoko accommodation for those who don’t have a car and/or want to treat themselves to a cocktail.

Roasting, Myoko

Roasting, Myoko. Image: Nojiri Coffee Company

english menu: yes
Vegetarian formula: yes
Area: Lake Nojiri
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Menya Ashita

The “Menya” part of Menya Ashita just means they sell noodles. Ashita is a ramen restaurant that’s not technically in Myoko but one hundred percent worth the effort. Visually appealing, some of Ashita’s ramen dishes are quite generous, including sliced ​​chicken to accompany the typical pork on top.

The thickness of the broth goes a long way to solving problems with over-drinking sakes the night before, as long as you can find a tree to take a nap after. These specialties and others such as the fish-based broth make this place a bit different from your typical ramen restaurant.

english menu: Nope
Vegetarian: Nope
Area: Jotsymoko Station
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Echigoya

Echigoya is a yakiniku (“grilled meat”) restaurant where you cook yourself on the table. For the uninitiated, even if you choose to just grill vegetables instead of meat, you probably won’t walk away with the same smell as when you walked in. As such, it may not be suitable for all vegetarians or vegans despite the presence of vegetables on the menu. However, it certainly suits the carnivores and omnivores among us looking for an authentically Japanese, low-key dining experience.

Echigoya, Myoko

Echigoya, Myoko. Photo: Nathan Eden

Yakiniku is rarely a particularly inexpensive meal, but Echigoya is very reasonably priced. Maybe that’s why they always seem so busy. It’s not uncommon to get turned away and that’s why the pro tip is to call ahead. If you don’t speak Japanese, have someone call on your behalf. Echigoya is about a 15-minute drive from Akakura to Joetsu, just off Route 18.

english menu: yes
Vegetarian: yes
Area: Nakago/Nihongi Station
More information

Echigoya, Myoko

Echigoya, Myoko. Photo: Nathan Eden

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