What to Eat in Kochi City
August 8, 2016
Kochi City has no shortage of top quality restaurants. From local specialities like katsuo no tataki (seared bonito), yuzu-flavoured beverages and Tosa green tea, to the Japanese staples noodles and sushi, to vegetarian desserts and sustainably-grown coffee, and even mile-high hamburgers named after a famous revolutionary, your taste buds will never be bored.
It is along Obiyamachi, the long shopping arcade connecting Kochi Castle to, that some of Kochi's most famous eateries are located.
1. Hirome Market
Hirome is at the end of Obiyamachi and near Kochi Castle, making it the perfect place to take a break after a day of exploring Kochi's interesting history and picking up a few souvenirs. Hirome has a large, open seating area surrounded by nearly sixty stalls selling favourites like sushi, ramen, takoyaki, and gyoza. There are also small restaurants, bars, and a café specializing in hojicha (roasted green tea) inside the market.
Set meal including katsuo no tataki, tofu topped with bonito flakes, miso soup, rice, and green tea for 880 yen.
The dish Kochi is best known for – katsuo no tataki, or seared bonito – is sold by several vendors. Though still raw on the inside, the fresh bonito fish is cooked on the outside, giving it a mild smoky flavour different from sashimi. This dish is typically served with salt, raw garlic and/or ponzu shoyu sauce. The main ingredients in ponzu shoyu sauce are soy sauce and yuzu juice.
Yuzu beer and gyoza.
Best compared to a sweet lemon, yuzu is a citrus fruit cultivated in Kochi Prefecture along with buntan and konatsu. Yuzu juice and yuzu-flavoured beer are both available at Hirome.
Hojicha ice cream with adzuki beans and daifuku.
After sampling Hirome’s various offerings, hojicha ice cream might be the perfect way to end your meal. Served simply in a waffle cone or as a parfait with sweet adzuki beans and daifuku, a type of mocha or rice cake, the sweetness of ice cream and bitterness of tea achieve the perfect balance in this dessert. Several kinds of green tea, mochi, and even matcha beer as also available.
Address: 2-3-1 Obiyamachi, Kochi City
2. 5019 Premium Factory
5019 Premium Factory is a bustling eatery that opens onto Central Park, the location for many of Kochi’s festivals and events. 5019 is famous for its Ryoma Burger, a massive burger – nearly 20cm tall and 15cm wide – inspired by Tosa revolutionary Sakamoto Ryoma’s grand ambitions. Less hearty eaters needn’t worry though, the Premium Burger (520 yen) and Avocado Burger are just as mouth-watering.
5019 Premium Factory.
Premium Burger with Fries and Ice Tea.
5019 serves Western food, but often with a Kochi twist, such as katsuo pizza, Caprese salad made from local tomatoes, Kochi eggplant and bacon Arriabbiata pasta, and yuzu juice mixed with cola. Spare ribs, steak, Hawaiian loco moco rice and appetizers like shrimp and avocado salad are on the menu as well.
If you’re looking for a change from the usual sushi, noodles, and miso soup while still experiencing local flavours, 5019 Premium Factory’s gourmet burgers might just hit the spot.
Address: 1-10-21 Obiyamachi, Kochi City
Hours: Mon. Tues. Wed. 7pm-2am.
Sat. 11am-6pm, 7pm-3am.
Sun 11am-6pm, 7pm-1am.
3. Seimendokoro Kuraki
A small but popular noodle shop off of Obiyamachi, there is often a lineup here later at night.
Customers can choose from chicken or pork-based broths flavoured with salt, soy sauce, or pork bone and a variety of toppings including pork, chicken, and vegetables.
Pork Chuka Soba.
Other notable dishes include Japanese plum soba and mazeh (“mixed”) soba. Mazeh soba is mildly spicy and comes topped with raw egg, green onion, seaweed and meat. Mixing thoroughly blends these different subtle flavours together. It is served with gohanwari (a small bowl of rice) so customers can soak up every last drop of delicious soba sauce. Gohanwari can be added to any meal for only 100 yen.
Mazeh Soba with gohanwari and fried gyoza.
Address: 1-10-12 Obiyamachi, Kochi City
Hours: 11:30 – 16:00, 17:30 – midnight (open until 2 am Saturday nights).
4. Tosa Cha Cafe
The concept behind the Tosa Cha Cafe is discovery: discovery of Kochi's natural beauty, strong agricultural tradition, and, of course, Kochi's delicious tea.
Tosa Cha Café – Tosa Tea and Desserts.
Kochi's tea has a strong flavour that isn't bitter but rich and full. Grown in the mountainous areas around Shimanto City, Niyodo River, Ochi Town, Sakawa and Hidaka Village, its unique flavour is determined by the local climate: warm and rainy weather, sharp differences in morning and evening temperatures, strong winds on the sloping fields, and direct sunlight in the early spring. Green, black, and oolong tea are all produced from these carefully cultivated tea leaves. Tosa Cha also sells teas that include local buntan (a citrus fruit), camomile, ginger and mint.
To help customers best appreciate the tea's flavour, the cafe suggests a particular but simple way of preparing it. If you have any questions, a server will gladly help you.
- Pour hot water into the teacup (called a yunomi 湯のみ) to measure the correct amount of water.
- Pour this into the teapot to warm the pot.
- Pour again into another container (yusamashi 湯さまし）to cool the water to 90C.
- Add the tea leaves to the pot using a wooden spoon called a chasaji (茶さじ）.
- Pour the warm water over the tea leaves.
Then all you need to do is wait one minute (a tiny one-minute timer is provided) and enjoy your tea!
Although excellent tea is Tosa Cha Cafe's raison d'etre, they also serve delicious but reasonably priced lunches and desserts. Set meals come with soup, Japanese pickles and other vegetable side dishes.
Sushi lunch set 780 yen.
Shimanto pork lunch set 550 yen.
Tea and sweets make the perfect pair. Desserts include yuzu-flavoured mochi, hojicha pudding, several flavours of cake, and mochi with sweet adzuki beans and matcha jelly.
Sweet adzuki beans, matcha jelly, and mochi.
After two o’clock, other decadent desserts like waffles topped with ice cream and sweet potato crisps, parfaits with black sesame, hojicha or vanilla ice cream, and seasonal fruits with jelly and mochi are also available.
Vanilla ice cream with sweet potato crisps, mochi and fresh fruit.
With a natural wood decor, several tatami rooms and an outdoor patio, this café offers customers a calm atmosphere where they can enjoy a great cup of tea while watching the busyness of Obiyamachi passing by.
Second Floor Interior.
Shaded Outdoor Patio.
Address: 2-1-31 Obiyamachi, Kochi City
Hours: Open every day from 11am-7pm Closed Wednesdays.
5. Hikari no Tane
For those who prefer coffee to tea, Hikari no Tane (the name means "seed of light") is another cafe well worth a visit. Hikari serves vegan and vegetarian lunches and desserts along with coffee and many unusual beverages.
Café Hikari no Tane in Obiyamachi.
Coffee and Dessert
Hikari no Tane is dedicated to serving food that is good for your body and the environment. Ingredients are largely sourced from within Japan, many of these coming from Kochi Prefecture itself.
This cafe has a variety of espresso-based drinks, coffee, and tea made from sustainably produced coffee beans and tea leaves. Cappuccinos and mochas can be made with soymilk. If you're feeling more adventurous, you could try coffee with buntan juice, dandelion coffee or sweet and spicy Tosayama ginger ale.
Espresso and Fig Tart.
Organic Coffee and Brownie.
Desserts change daily and reflect the flavours of the season. Apple tarts, brownies, an assortment of cookies and biscotti, tofu tiramisu, and cheesecake are common options.
Nine-Vegetable Vegan Lunch Set.
This vegan lunch set (950 yen) includes germinated brown rice mixed with adzuki beans and natural salt, local vegetables (changed seasonally) and miso soup. Germination activates enzymes, so this rice has more nutrients than regular brown rice and is easier to digest. Coconut milk and bean curry is another vegan option. For meat eaters, there is a wild deer curry.
Address: 2-2-18 Obiyamachi, Kochi City
Hours: 10am - 6pm. Closed Mondays.
Lunch is from 11:30-2:30pm. Desserts and drinks are available all day.
Currently working as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Kochi City, Sarah is a Canadian expat who spends her free time exploring Kochi Prefecture and trying to devise a better way to keep the tanukis out of her garden. She enjoys going to local festivals and eating too much mochi.