1. Narazuke (奈良漬)
Narazuke is pickled vegetable and sometimes fish ("zuke" means picked in Japanese). As they use "sake kasu", which is a lees left over when producing sake, for pickling the ingredients, it is also called "kasu-zuke". Narazuke is very traditional dish that has been eaten for over 1300 years. Don't be afraid of the way it looks. Although they have a bit of a strong and unique taste, you won't be able to stop eating once you get used to them. Enjoy the combination of sweetness and saltiness, flavor of sake, and crunchy texture.
Yamazakiya is the most famous shop for narazuke, which is well known for the variety of traditional narazuke flavors. There are several branches in Nara city, and one is located in about 10-minutes walk from JR Nara station.
2. Kakinoha sushi (柿の葉すし)
Kakinoha sushi is a type of regional sushi. Kakinoha means a leaf of kaki (a Japanese fruit called persimmon in English), and this sushi is wrapped in the leaf. It is said that people started to wrap sushi to preserve the seafood on the sushi because there was no way to keep food cool for long time ago. It is easy to bite and take out to outside too. Make sure you don't eat the leaves.
The best-known kakinoha sushi to try in Nara city is Tanaka's kakinoha sushi. You can eat in the restaurant and also take them out to the outside and eat in the beautiful Nara Park which is just a 5-minutes walk away.
3. Asuka nabe (飛鳥鍋)
It is a Japanese-style hot pot (nabe) dish. Usually the soup for hot pot is made from soy sauce, chicken or pork stock, or seafood broth. But asuka nabe uses milk, which makes the soup mild and creamy. The ingredients are nicely simmered in the milk-base soup that enhances the natural flavor. Nara used to be called "Asuka", this is why the dish called asuka nabe.
There are not many places to eat Asuka nabe today. Mendoya serves the outstanding Nara's local cuisines including Asuka nabe. 20-minutes walk from Asuka station.
4. Somen (そうめん)
Now somen is very popular and common noodle dish throughout Japan, and it was actually born in Nara over 1300 years ago. It is a thin and soft noodles that people usually eat cold with a dipping sauce in summer. But in Nara, the birthplace of somen, people eat hot somen called nyumen too.
Miwa Yamamoto is the most famous somen maker which also runs a restaurant so you can eat there. If you liked it, you can buy the dried somen noodles as a souvenir. 7-minutes walk from Makimuku station.
5. Chagayu (茶粥)
Chagayu is also a traditional Nara dish that used to be eaten by Buddhist monks at temples. "Cha" means green tea and "gayu" means rice porridge or gruel, so it is a simple dish where rice is cooked in tea instead of water. You can taste the deep flavor of green tea. It is also easy to digest, which is good for your stomach.
To no chaya has got good reviews from the customers. The restaurant offers an amazing atmosphere with the traditional decorations and beautiful set meals that consist of chagayu. Around 10-minutes walk from Kyobate station.
Enjoy the traditional taste of Nara
Nara is such a traditional city that has a long history of dishes too. Try these elegant local cuisine to make your visit complete!