Our Japanese-language reporter hadn’t heard of this restaurant, and since it was voted as a top restaurant, she had to check it out.

One of the best things about traveling is getting to eat different kinds of food. Some people even design their itinerary around stopping by certain restaurants! Japan, as we well know, is host to some of the best restaurants in the world, and every year foreign visitors to Japan vote on their favorites.

Somehow, this year’s TripAdvisor user list of Japan’s best restaurants turned out to be full of eateries that many Japanese people didn’t know about, so our Japanese language reporters are on a mission to try as many as they can, for the sake of journalism, of course. Masami K., our Nara-based correspondent, took it upon herself to try out number five on the list: Italian restaurant Nino. 

“Slow Food” Nino is located not even one minute’s walk from Kintetsu Nara station. At the entrance, the menu was posted in English, and in plain view, which makes it very inviting to non-Japanese-speaking guests.

When she went inside, she was greeted by a smiling attendant, and she immediately felt at home. Upon receiving the menu, Masami found that there were tons of choices for food and drinks, and was really excited to try something out.

Everything looked delicious and she couldn’t decide on anything, so she ordered a few dishes based on staff recommendations. But what surprised her was the way the food was prepared: Masami had brought two friends with her to the restaurant, and even though they didn’t ask for it, everything arrived cut or neatly divided into thirds, or in some other manner that was easy to share among three people. How considerate!

Masami says that in Nara, restaurants receive fewer customers than in larger cities, so she feels that the quality of service each customer experiences from the staff is, in general, far higher, and Nino is no exception. When serving the food, the staff were courteous enough to give facts about different ingredients in each dish, and provided recommendations on how best to enjoy them.

They went above and beyond; a great example of Japan’s omotenashi customer service.

The food left nothing to be desired either. One of Masami’s favorites out of all of the dishes she ordered was the Petite Salad with Prosciutto, which was 1,300 yen (US$11.80) for a small and 1,800 yen for a large.

The amount of prosciutto in this dish was plentiful. In fact, it was probably about the same as a portion size from another country, which is great for foreign guests with big appetites. It was also truly delicious prosciutto.

She also loved the Ninosse, a tomato cream-based pasta (1,450 yen for a small, 1,900 yen for a medium, and 2,500 yen for a large). It had a harmonious mix of flavors, like shrimp, anchovies, and mushrooms, that was more and more delicious with every bite. Although it doesn’t look it, it also packed a hefty punch of hotness, enough to need regular sips of a glass of water, but Masami really liked it for that.

It wasn’t exactly the most affordable restaurant, but Masami understood why this restaurant was popular with foreign visitors. The nice flavors and big portions of the food, coupled with the kindness and attentiveness of the staff, make Nino a pleasant, comfortable stopover for weary travelers who have spent the day walking around Nara’s many attractions.

Restaurant information:
Nino / ニーノ
Nara-ken Nara-shi Nishimakadocho 11-11 Prime Building 1st floor
Open: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (last order at 1:30), 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (last order at 10)
Closed Mondays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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