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Whether or not you’re a big fish eater, when in the tuna-fishing town of Kii-Katsuura, it’s rather a case of “When in Rome…”

Bodai

母大

Number 14 on the tuna restaurants map that you’ll find upon stepping foot in Kii-Katsuura Station, the comfortable, modern-looking restaurant Bodai is the perfect first food stop after a hunger-inducing 3.5-hour train trip from Osaka. Luckily you’ll have worked up an appetite as the number of tantalizing dishes on offer on the Bodai menu is truly astounding. If you’re having trouble deciding between the tuna sashimi set, the sea urchin donbori (rice bowl), or the deep-fried whale-meat set (!), go for the toro katsu teishoku – breadcrumb-coated tuna belly in a set that includes rice, miso soup, Japanese pickles, and some delicious fried eggplant for ¥1,500. A warning that menus in almost all Kii-Katsuura restaurants do offer whale meat. There are plenty of alternatives if that’s not your thing, otherwise, you could treat it as another case of “When in Rome…”

• Open: Lunch 11am–2pm; Dinner 5pm–11pm
• Price Range: ¥1,500–¥5,500
• Access: Just outside JR Kiikatsuura Stn
• Tel: 0735-520-039

 

Nachi

まぐろ三昧那智

One of the bigger places in Kii-Katsuura (and number 26 on the food map), Maguro Zanmai Nachi is a restaurant worth getting to before it opens for the chance to watch a tuna-carving demonstration (perhaps after an early-morning trip to watch the action at the fish market, which only happens Sundays). This restaurant has a demo area as part of its ground floor where onlookers can sometimes observe professional chefs in action carving up the tuna. Dine downstairs or in the spacious upstairs area and try the maguro zukushi – the all-tuna set (¥1,780), which comes with rice, miso soup, pickles, and tuna done three ways. The maguro katsudon – fried tuna bowl – is another reliable choice. One more recommendation – get a plate of tuna namban to share. The perfectly grilled fish with the sweet-and-sour mayonnaise sauce is a delicious, moreish treat.

• Open: 11:30am–9pm
• Price Range: ¥1,800–¥5,500
• Access: JR Kiikatsuura Stn, 3-min walk
• Tel: 0735-521-046

 

Ogawa

お食事処おがわ

A more traditional mom-and-pop style restaurant, at Oshokuji Dokoro Ogawa (number 31 on the map), you can choose to dine either at the counter or cross-legged at tables on tatami (straw mats). The big attraction here is the tuna steak (¥1,650), seared to perfection around the outsides and perfectly rare in the middle. The tuna sashimi set also comes highly recommended. If you get to the point where you have well and truly had enough of tuna, go for the delicious yakiniku (grilled beef) set, which comes with rice, miso soup, and pickles. As you might imagine, dining out in Kii-Katsuura is a challenge for vegetarians, but there are smaller menu items like edamame, salads, and tofu on offer. If ordering the tofu as a vegetarian at this particular restaurant, be sure to ask for it without the katsuobushi (fish flakes) sprinkled all over it!

• Open: Lunch 11am–2pm; Dinner 4pm–10pm
• Price Range: ¥1,700–¥5,500
• Access: JR Kiikatsuura Stn, 3-min walk
• Tel: 0735-525-602

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