Japanese food is amazing. Japanese home cooked food is amazing. And luckily (and this sets it apart from a lot of other countries) Japanese restaurant food is also amazing. Having lived here for four and a half years now, I have rarely had a bad experience eating out. For me, restaurant experiences are always 6/10 at the very least, and most of the time it’s 8/10. When you hit a spot that manages to top all of your favourite spots, you know that you’ve stumbled across something very special, and that’s how I would describe my experience at this little restaurant in the town of Yahiko, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the famous shrine and ropeway to the top of Mount Yahiko.
We arrived at Matsunoya for a late lunch on a drizzly Saturday afternoon in the middle of May, so we were the only customers in the shop. As you walk in (like some of the other businesses situated on the main and side streets of Yahiko), the interior is of a rustic wooden design: massive beams supporting the roof and running along the ceiling, with various old fashioned temple memorabilia tacked on to the walls. It’s a fairly small restaurant, there are about eight or nine four-seater tables and being a family businesses in Japan, Matsunoya is restaurant out the front with the back of the building being a regular house. We were given little cups of hot tea when we sat down which I always think is a very nice touch. We placed our order (I had a katsu-kareraisu (breaded pork cutlet with curry and rice) and my dining companion had a hire-katsu set (tender pork fillet cutlets) which came with soup, salad, rice and tsukemono (pickled things) and even though we were waiting about 20-25 minutes for our food, it was totally worth it, everything just tasted so amazing. The curry was the best I have ever eaten in Japan, and the tonkatsu and hirekatsu were also better than anything I’ve ever had. This is like one of those restaurants that you happen upon, and everyone raves about it because the chef has their own secret recipe that’s been handed down through the generations. I seriously cannot recommend this restaurant enough, and I hope I can try something different the next time I go there because it will be very difficult to stop myself ordering exactly what I had last time. There aren’t many times that I’ve eaten out somewhere and I’ve come so close to ordering exactly the same thing again just because the taste was out of this world.
It was overall a great experience (had a nice chat with the staff who gave us a little information about their setup), the building is spotlessly clean, as is the newly installed restroom: We will definitely be going back when next at Yahiko.
Monday to Friday : Breakfast & Lunch 11AM to 2:30PM, Dinner 6PM to 9PM
Saturday & Sunday: Lunch/Dinner 11AM to 9PM
〒959-0323 Niigata Prefecture, Nishikanbara District, Yahiko, １２２３