This beach destination isn’t just about the sand, sun and waves. It plays host to a surprising number of eclectic and delicious cuisines, well worth extending your stay for. Read on for a round-up of some of our favorite spots. Our one hot tip though is to try to spend the end of a week or at least the weekend in Shimoda as a number of these eateries have Mondays, Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays off.
1. On The Beach (Map)
While not technically on the beach, this cute hole-in-the-wall eatery offers a variety of barbecue boxes for you to take away or chow down on at their limited outdoor seating area. Each box is a complete meal with your choice of protein, rice or potato plus a dressed salad to balance everything out. Options are aplenty too, from herbed lemon chicken to garlic shrimp and even a tasty vegan meat option. Be sure not to pass up some of their gelato for dessert, both the maple nuts and maron vanilla were perfect for a hot beach day out.
2. Spice Dog (Map)
For a laidback evening meal, Spice Dog is hard to beat with its beach shack vibes and copious amounts of delicious curry. A few of note on the menu are the prawn coconut curry and their classic chicken curry. For something a little heartier, the naan pizza is the perfect east meets west concoction to share at the table. Next to the dining area is a second-hand thrift shop and an antique store, allowing diners space for a quick wander and shop while waiting for food to arrive.
3. Aoki Sazae (Map)
Just off Yumigahama Beach is Aoki Sazae, a seafood specialty restaurant. Many people stop by for the attractive barbecue sets which you can grill directly on their built-in table-top grills. Choose your fish or crustacean of choice at their live seafood tank room next door or opt for the daily barbecue set. Don’t feel like cooking? The menu also has many sashimi seafood bowls to try plus their very Instagrammable lobster ramen. Like its namesake the sazae or turbo shell clam, which is prepared raw or grilled with butter, is also worth a side dish order. Walk off that food coma with a stroll along Yumigahama’s shores, a wonderful beach in its own right and much quieter than the more famous beaches in Shimoda.
4. Gorosaya (Map)
Of all of Izu’s bountiful seafood, kinmedai or golden eye snapper remains one of the most prized. Shimoda in particular yields the biggest catch of kinmedai on the peninsula, making it a must-try for one of your meals. Gorosaya specializes in the preparation of kinmedai and offers various sets featuring this delicate fish. Whether cooked or raw, its flesh is soft and tender with a very light flavor that isn’t fishy at all. Served alongside every set menu is also isojiru, a type of miso soup that comes from the traditional practice of the “ama” shellfish divers. Isojiru is prepared with at least five different kinds of shellfish so expect a rich broth that is reminiscent of the sea.
5. Café Mellow (Map)
Café Mellow is a strong local favorite that offers a mix of classic Western fares such as burgers, pasta and pizza. It’s also known for its wooden cabin-like exterior. Another perk to Café Mellow is its unusually long (for the area) operational hours, guests can dine there from 11am to 11pm.
6. Ebi-man (Map)
Perched at the northern-most point of Shirahama is Ebi-man, a seafood restaurant overlooking a gorgeous view of the ocean. Its menu comprises freshly caught seafood from the area with a couple of special inclusions such as a kinme croquette and everyone’s favorite butter-grilled scallops. Each set comes with a generously portioned main dish, whether that’s sashimi, tempura or fish prepared in a simmered broth.
7. Nanadaru Chaya (Map)
If you find yourself tired of chasing waterfalls in Kawazu, this tea house makes for a good reprieve. Its classic “kissa” menu holds fuss-free items like udon and soba in both hot and cold varieties. But to get that local hit, make sure you order it with wasabi, the local area specialty. For something sweet, Nanadaru Chaya also has a section of its menu dedicated just to strawberry desserts like parfaits, juice and jellies.
8. Konamonchaya Ahoya (Map)
Ahoya is a great pit stop to make in the middle of your explorations of Perry Road. This open-air eatery offers a variety of snacks such as takoyaki, but the main draw is definitely the kakigori. Choose from fruity flavors like mango and “goro goro” ichigo or opt for the rich taste of uji matcha shaved ice. If ama natsu is in season, the freshly squeezed juice is the perfect thirst quencher, made better if you ask for it to be spiked with nihonshu.
9. Re-Mix (Map)
Possibly Shimoda’s most unexpected find is Re-Mix, a late-night dinner and drinks space. Owned by former New York-based DJ, Hiro, Re-Mix is now mixing up daily special dishes and desserts in the form of homemade ice cream flavors. Come for the food but stay for the chill vibes, unique decor and well-stocked wine list. Be warned, Re-Mix is notoriously challenging to visit as the opening hours are subject to Hiro’s whim. Best to call ahead to guarantee a meal there.
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10. South Cafe (Map)
Starving but want a healthy and filling meal? Make your way to South Cafe, a breezy and light-filled cafe with an extensive menu of salads, soups, pasta and pizza. The extremely large portion sizes have earned this cafe quite a reputation, making it a very popular destination for locals. And if you can’t decide between two dishes, have the best of both worlds with the cafe’s salad pizza.
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11. Ra-maru Diner (Map)
Taste the flavor of Shimoda in burger form at Ra-maru Diner. Located at the michi-no-eki, this little shop is known for its Shimoda burger which sees two burger buns sandwiching a battered and deep-fried kinmedai dressed in teriyaki and blanketed with a slice of cheddar cheese. If fish burgers aren’t your thing, there’s also an avocado shrimp burger, a crunchy chicken burger and of course, onion rings.