Jusco & San-A Grocery Shops: Has food courts inside them and offer everything from pizza to sushi.
Your Dining Guide: Iwakuni has fantastic eateries, here are some featured restaurants.
Fracasso: Is a franchised Italian restaurant located near You Me Town in Iwakuni, up the road on 188 from Gyoza House. It’s easy to find as you drive down 188, with a big white and green sign. In front of Energia building and next to Toyopet. Open from 11:00 – 2:oo am. Fracasso’s has a lot of seafood dishes, but don’t let that deter you; they have excellent (though quite simple) personal sized pizzas, terrific salads, sandwiches, meat platters, and appetizers, but my absolute favorite item is on the dessert menu: they have the most wonderful tiramisu and sundaes I’ve ever had. All you can drink drink bar is available – good deal! The prices are not bad, it’s a good place to go for lunch for a quick pizza and dessert. English menus are available.
Campagne: Is an Italian restaurant is located along the way to the Chicken Shack, after making the left turn at the double bridges (turning right across the first little bridge at the double bridges takes you do Dr. Soji’s hospital). You will see the bright yellow building just before the car lots on the right side of the road. You might find it helpful to turn around in the car dealership lot and backtrack to the restaurant, depending on the flow of traffic. I recommend going here for dinner, because they have a very limited lunch menu. This restaurant falls into the upper price range, so expect to spend around 2000 to 3000 yen per person here for a full meal experience (you can, of course, eat cheaper, but if you want appetizers and desserts, this is what you’ll spend).
Gyoza House: Is located on the corner of 188 by You Me Town in Iwakuni, and is renowned for great gyoza. Menus are in English and Japanese (though you will find yourself matching up the Kanji next to the full-color photos of food with the descriptions to find out what each item is, but it’s a method that works). I enjoy the variety of the meal sets, and many people love the spicy BBQ shrimp. The prices are hard to beat for a good meal, and the menu is the same for lunch and dinner. Be sure to check out any special meal sets they have for the day, because sometimes they have some really wonderful special sets (including some of the most tender beef ever). Specials, when available, are shown on a separate laminated menu along with the other menus.
Chicken Shack: The Chicken Shack (or Sanzoku, as the locals know it), is a wonderful setup of traditional Japanese restaurants on the mountainside just outside Iwakuni, consisting of both indoor and outdoor tables, a relaxing atmosphere, and a souvenir shop. They are famous for their sanzoku yaki (Chicken on a Stick) and have mouth-watering yakiniku (thinly sliced beef that you grill yourself on a small tabletop grill) and gyoza (meat and cabbage-filled dupling). The prices run a little high, especially if you like to try several different things at once, so plan on spending around 2500-3000 yen per person, and more if you want to buy those little extras at the souvenir shop.
Eniwa (Pork Restaurant): Eniwa, known to the non-locals as the Pig Place or Pork Restaurant, is a traditional Japanese restaurant with a warm and friendly atmosphere. The restaurant has both Japanese and Western style seating, and serves some terrific Japanese pork dishes, including various types of pork cutlets, katsudon (pork cutlet over rice with egg), and soup (the biggest bowl of fresh ingredients I’ve ever seen in a restaurant; you make it yourself at your table with the provided cookstove and large bowl serving as a pot).
To get here, exit the main gate and turn right onto Hwy 188 at 4-Corners (the second traffic light out the gate). This will take you downtown. If you turn left at the corner of the YMCA building, you will see a large parking lot. Park here. Go out the back of the parking lot (toward the liquor store) and turn right onto the road between the parking lot and the liquor store. Be careful walking, these are narrow streets with a good deal of traffic! Walk down this road through two intersections, and you will see Sake Haus (another liquor store) on the corner, then Big Echo on your right and the pork restaurant across the street from Big Echo. Here are a couple of maps: Overview and Close-up (click either map for a larger view). Eniwa is open from 11am to 9:30pm, and is closed on Mondays. You can watch a video about it in AFN’s Iwakuni Dining Rollout.
Coffee Shop: There is a little Cofee Shop if you take Rt. 188 going toward Yanai. If you go out of Iwakuni on Rt. 188 past You Me Town and JanJaka, you will pass an Eneos gas station, a Free Bird café, a place called House Gallery, Jutendo and Max Valu, then you’ll see signs for Kuga and the Sanyo. Turn right onto Hwy 149 at the intersection that goes to the Golf Course (there’s a big golf billboard). Continue down Hwy 149 for a little ways (I can’t recall exactly how far, but just a few minutes and it will look like you are in the middle of nowhere!). The coffee shop is located on your left; you’ll see a little sign on the left just before you get there that says “coffee shop”. It’s a nice little place with strong coffee, light desserts, and a variety of souvenirs to peruse.
Sako: Has what some consider the world’s best BLT sandwiches (and I’m no expert on these, but they were quite tasty). Located straight out the main gate at 4-corners (on the left at the stop light; there is a red and white sign over the doorway), Sako’s is open only for lunch, between 11am and 1pm. They have excellent fried rice, as well. There is limited seating, but you can take your order to go if you like.
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