Planning to escape the bustling city of Tokyo? No need to look further. Kamakura, a small coastal town in the Kanagawa Prefecture is located an hour drive away in the south of Tokyo. This city is also one of the most popular places to visit in Japan since the area is known for traditional Japanese festivals and cultural celebrations, as well as ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and the Great Buddha of Kamakura which is the second tallest Buddha statue in Japan.
This area is reminiscent of pre-modern Japan, with the preservation of intricate architectural structures such as the Ajisai-dera Temple ("hydrangea temple"), Kencho-ji Temple (Kamakura's oldest Zen temple), Hokoku-ji (known for its bamboo grove and delicious matcha tea), and Hasedera (home to one of the largest wooden statues in Japan).
If touring all these temples and shrines leaves you famished, there is a wide array of restaurants and street food in Kamakura that can replenish your lost energy from all the walking and exploration. But with so many options, you might feel stumped about where to eat in Kamakura. Read on for a list of the best restaurants in Kamakura!
Here are some spots we recommend visiting when in Kamakura, the seaside city just outside of Tokyo.
While the exterior of Ah Goo is unassuming--a traditional little two-story wooden house surrounded with greenery--and the interior is simple and classically Japanese--all tatami mat and sliding paper doors--this little kaiseki restaurant presents sumptuous dishes. An upscale Japanese restaurant which offers the freshest seasonal ingredients, the chefs at A Goo create sophisticated masterpieces, plated artistically with superb attention to detail. They serve authentic Japanese dishes such as zosui (porridge), sashimi, and flavorful dashi-based soup. Their dishes capture the essence of each season, using only local seasonal ingredients. A feast for the eyes as well as your taste buds, a meal at Ah Goo is a delight.
Get your dose of protein at Tamagoyaki Ozawa, a Kamakura classic, which has perfected the fluffy and flavorful tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelet. With an exquisite sweetness and lovely texture, tamagoyaki truly rivals a slice of cake. And while some may balk at the idea of sweet eggs, just think of it as a flourless cake. This casual little shop is as local as it gets, with no English menu or English-speaking staff, but a fantastic, longstanding reputation in Kamakura.
Update (April 3, 2020): Santono Udon is now closed.
For generous portions at an affordable price, check out Satono Udon Kamakura. At this little foreigner-friendly udon restaurant in Kamakura, dig into the udon noodle set with a side of crispy fried tempura. Or, go for the baradon pork rice bowl, another classic choice. You'll definitely leave feeling stuffed!
The streets of Kamakura also boast grab-and-go street food that will surely whet your appetite. Inari, fried tofu pockets filled with sushi rice, are offered with a bit of a twist at Hannari Inari, a Kamakura restaurant that's popular for its Inari Sushi Cup, with a combination of shirasu (young sardines, or whitebait), salmon roe, rice, and chives. Another must-try is the shirasu-tamago (tamagoyaki with shirasu) on a stick. Go to Hannari Inari for a small yet filling snack at an affordable price.
Craving pork buns? If you're wondering where to eat in Kamakura and you like a good steamed bun, you should know about this famous chuka ryori (Japanese-style Chinese food) spot called Kamakura Tenshin, which is sought after for its handmade buta-man (steamed buns containing stewed pork, takenoko bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms). This specialty shop is a great option for a quick bite of a savory, juicy pork bun.
Kamakura J’s is yet another Kamakura restaurant offering a shirasu dish on the menu, and it's no wonder because Kamakura, located by the ocean, is a prime spot for seafood in Japan. Takoyaki stuffed with shirasu is this shop's specialty, a unique take on the popular Japanese street food, which normally consists of balls of dough containing octopus pieces and topped with Japanese mayo and katsuobushi (dried fish flakes). Served piping hot, Kamakura J's shirasu takoyaki is a must-eat in Kamakura.
For veggie-lovers and those who prefer healthier options, Princess Kinoko’s mushroom skewers, which consists of enormous breaded shiitake mushrooms deep-fried till crispy and golden-brown, is surely a tempting street snack. While this little food stall is tiny, Princess Kinoko's shiitake mushrooms are huge, thick, and flavorful.
Deep-fried purple sweet potato croquettes, or korokke, will fill your tummy at Torigoya. While the interior of the sweet potato korokke is a gorgeous, vibrant purple color, this shop also offers other varieties to satisfy your fried food craving. This tiny shop also offers varieties of korokke like beef, black sesame, and seasonal flavors like ume plum and herbs. If you have a sweet tooth, Torigoya even offers a chocolate korokke, with a beautifully crispy exterior and subtly sweet, chocolatey interior.
Cool off in the heat with some purple sweet potato soft serve ice cream at Imoyoshi Yakata. This little sweet potato shop offers both the classic matcha green tea soft serve and purple sweet potato soft serve, or you can order their "hydrangea" soft serve, which is a swirl of the two. If it's a little too chilly for ice cream, Imoyoshi Yakata also offers purple sweet potato korokke and a number of other Japanese desserts and confections made with sweet potato! When you're exploring the area, check out some of our suggestions about where to eat in Kamakura. This old Japan coastal town vibe is complimented with a combination of a traditional and modern take on Japanese cuisine, offering fantastic kaiseki, seafood, tamagoyaki, purple sweet potato treats, and more!