Where: Nara, Japan
What makes it special
Japanese restaurants are usually known for one specific thing, be it udon noodles or tempura or sushi. Some, though, go even further and specialize in a single ingredient. That’s the case with Maguro Koya in the Japanese city of Nara where the name of the game is tuna. Koya is a casual, hole-in-the-wall, hidden gem kind of spot – found on a small street in a city known for its very friendly deer (not edible). Owned and operated by an elder Japanese couple who will greet you at the door, the restaurant will blow you away with the best tuna you’ve ever had. Get the Negitoro Don Daburu, a double layer of chopped medium fatty tuna pieces with spring onion on sushi rice – if you’re not already drooling, you will be. They don’t take reservations and there are only a few small tables and some bar seats, so get there as soon as you can because they close at 7 and when they run out of tuna, you’re out of luck. You’ll never look at a can of Starkist the same way ever again.
In your own words
“We were OBSESSED with this little place. We stumbled upon it for lunch one day and are so happy we experienced it. Everything about it was authentic – the owners, the food, and the vibe, and it was hands down our favorite dish in all of Japan!”
Recommended by: Bebe Silberzweig. Best trip: Machu Picchu. I’m an outdoorsy and active traveler who will bike all day, every day!
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