BOOK FOOD EXPERIENCES
RESERVE RESTAURANTS
BUY GOURMET PRODUCTS
WHERE TO EAT

Deer-Side Wining & Dining: 7 Michelin Guide 2024 Restaurants in Nara

By Ryan Noble
Updated: July 23, 2024

While we were distracted by the Michelin Guide 2024 for Kyoto and Osaka, featuring some of the best Michelin-recognized restaurants in Kyoto and Osaka, something happened. The latest Michelin Guide 2024 for Nara was released, giving you more than a few reasons to visit this historic, deity and deer-filled region of Japan.

So, next time you’re wondering about the best things to do in Nara, remember to add a few of these Michelin restaurants to your to-do list!

Nara restaurants recognized in Michelin Guide 2024:

  1. Oryori Hanagaki (Two Michelin Stars)
  2. Tsukumo (Two Michelin Stars)
  3. Akordu (Two Michelin Stars)
  4. LA TRACE (One Michelin Star)
  5. le content (Bib Gourmand)
  6. Pizzeria Trattoria Magazzino (Bib Gourmand)
  7. Masala an Takumi (Bib Gourmand)

1. Oryori Hanagaki (Two Michelin Stars)

null

With its calming interiors — a haven of warm woods and cozy lights — you may be surprised to discover that the expert kitchen of the two-Michelin-starred Oryori Hanagaki is anything but.

According to chef Furuta Toshihiko, every day is a battle against (and with) Mother Nature and the ever-changing bounty of high-quality ingredients she provides; after all, even a Michelin-recognized chef can only take inferior ingredients so far. 

It is for this reason that the restaurant has no fixed menu, opting to offer five tiers of omakase chef’s choice menus — with the whims of the day’s finest ingredients found at the local markets deciding the dishes that will be served.

As you might also expect from a restaurant with two Michelin Stars, Oryori Hanagaki is extremely exclusive. They only serve one party per service at a time for lunch and dinner, so get your table booked before others have the same idea...

Book a table for Michelin star dining at Oryori Hanagaki!

2. Tsukumo (Two Michelin Stars)

null

When you step into the world of kaiseki multi-course cuisine in Japan, you’re almost always guaranteed a memorable experience. Tsukumo, however, awarded two Michelin Stars in the 2024 Michelin Guide, isn’t afraid to raise the bar for kaiseki restaurants everywhere.

With the name of the restaurant meaning “99,” referring to the concept of “incompleteness,” Tsukumo is always searching for the magic, missing ingredient. Although, with their minimalist, yet warm and rustic, interior making you feel instantly at home, and their Michelin-recognized dishes resembling the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine, it seems they’ve found it.

By using traditional cooking techniques to bring out the best possible flavors from every single ingredient and presenting each dish as a piece of culinary art, you’ll be met with dishes almost too beautiful to eat.

Reserve a table for Michelin-star dining at Tsukumo!

3. Akordu (Two Michelin Stars)

null

If you see a herd of deer congregating near the edge of Nara Park, they may just be hoping to reserve a table at Akordu, bringing Michelin-starred Spanish cuisine to this scenic spot.

Alongside elevated versions of beloved Spanish dishes like tapas and paella, Akordu isn’t afraid to experiment with Spanish takes on Japanese ingredients — like luxurious cuts of Yamato beef. And for that extra taste of Spain, expect every course menu to be served with a side of bread dipped in olive oil.

Reserve your table for Michelin star Spanish cuisine at Akordu!

4. La Trace (One Michelin Star)

null

La Trace means “footsteps” in French, which makes sense, since you can probably follow the crowd of Japan’s foodies making their way here for Michelin-starred French cuisine. Although, this name actually comes from chef Sato Ryo’s philosophy of tracing back the origins of his ingredients, even making personal trips to meet producers, see their processes and hear their stories.

No stranger to the Michelin Guide, having also been recognized in 2022 and 2023, prepare to be delighted by picture-perfect platings that place simplicity and exquisite ingredients in the spotlight. 

For example, try the Bakuku pork, sauteed, baked and rested multiple times until the fat completely renders off for a tender, melt-in-your-mouth cut of meat. Alternatively, experience the shining beacon of seasonal vegetables with a whole carrot stuffed with Camembert cheese. 

Reserve your spot for Michelin star French dining at La Trace!

5. le content (Bib Gourmand)

null

Coming from the French word for “content,” Le Content promises satisfying French fare that embodies all the best things about the modern bistro. A chic, curved ceiling with alabaster plaster finish, gentle lighting and a Scandinavian leaning to their minimalist furnishings. 

Officially recognized in the Michelin Guide 2024 with a Michelin Bib Gourmand, meaning they serve up unforgettable dishes without the price tag, you’ll feel suitably spoiled without regretting it when you next check your bank balance.

Indulge in marinated Spanish mackerel and clam and squid tartare with dill sour cream; appreciate the flavors of pork pate de campagne; and don’t miss out on their Nara beef steak, delicately paired with a sage-scented jus sauce. 

Since you came all the way here, it’d be embarrassing if you didn’t save room for Le Content’s tarte tatin with caramel gelato — showing the sweet and simple pleasures of classic French cuisine.

Reserve a table for Michelin Gourmand French cuisine at le content!

6. Pizzeria Trattoria Magazzino (Bib Gourmand)

null

Pizzeria Trattoria Magazzino is proof that while all pizzas are at least “good,” not all pizzas achieve greatness. Resting in the shade of Mt. Nijo in Nara Prefecture, this restaurant is where people go for a taste of authentic Naples-style pizza, courtesy of owner-chef Hironori Noda. 

Vegetables are harvested from their own local garden, tended daily by the owner’s mother, and Italian cheeses are flown in weekly for that perfect, pizza-ready cheese. As you can tell already, Noda isn’t one for cutting corners, and even the pizza sauce is seasoned with authentic Sicilian sea salt — before being gently delivered to their wood-fired kiln, using aged broad-leaved tree wood to achieve the perfect char.

It’s starting to make sense that Pizzeria Trattoria Magazzino caught the Michelin Guide’s attention, isn’t it?

Reserve your seat for Bib Gourmand pizza in Nara!

7. Masala an Takumi (Bib Gourmand)

null

Masala an Takumi had humble beginnings as a 160-year-old rice farmhouse before being transformed by chef Sakanaka Takumi into the Michelin Bib Gourmand Indian restaurant it’s become.

Before even sitting down, you’re sure to be swept off your feet by the traditional Japanese architecture on display, embracing the farmhouse’s original earthen walls, exposed wooden beams and sliding door partitions.

Sakanaka’s culinary expertise is more international, however, blending Japanese ingredients and techniques with that of kitchens more likely found in France and India. 

His Miwa somen ‘pasta’ with mushrooms and spices is a Nara specialty, while the lamb vindaloo — a spicy Goan-style curry served with whole wheat naan and pickled Awaji onions — and the cauliflower mousse with paneer and prosciutto are more reminiscent of what you might expect to find in an elevated Indian restaurant. 

While Mr Sakanaka helms the kitchen, the front of house is all Mrs Sakanaka, charming diners with hospitality and anecdotes with a smile. 

Reserve a seat for Michelin-worthy curry in Nara!

If you want to work your way through Japan’s Michelin-starred restaurants, you should read our blogs on Michelin Star restaurants in Osaka and Michelin Star restaurants in Kyoto. Oh, don’t forget Tokyo’s Michelin Star spots either!

Nara Michelin Guide 2024 FAQs

null

What is the Michelin Guide?

The Michelin Guide is a prestigious restaurant and hotel rating system created by the French tire company Michelin. 

How many Michelin stars can a restaurant receive?

A restaurant can receive a maximum of three Michelin stars. Each star signifies a higher level of culinary mastery and overall dining experience.

How does a restaurant get a Michelin star?

Restaurants are recommended to the Michelin Guide each year. These restaurants are then visited by official Michelin inspectors, who assess whether a restaurant is worthy of a place in that year’s Michelin Guide.

Potential Michelin awards include:

One star: “A very good restaurant in this category.”

Two stars: “Excellent cooking that’s worth a detour.”

Three stars: “Exceptional cuisine that’s worth a special journey.”

Bib Gourmand: A restaurant that’s been recognized for high-quality ingredients and standards, yet still retains affordable prices.

Michelin Green star: A restaurant that has been recognized for its eco-friendly and sustainable practices.

Is Nara worth visiting?

Absolutely! Nara offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling cities of Kyoto and Osaka, with its rich history, cultural sites and friendly deer. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the Kansai region of Japan.

Things to do in Nara?

In Nara, you can visit historical sites such as Todai-ji Temple, Nara Park and Horyu-ji Temple. You can also feed the deer in Nara Park or explore the charming streets of Naramachi.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
0
Click clap if you like this post
Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
Stay in the Loop!
Be the first to know about the latest foodie trends.
Sign up for insider tips & sneak peeks into the diverse world of dining in Japan