By Peter Sidell
This restaurant is an easy 5 min walk from Kagoshima-Chūō JR station. Just walk across the bridge and look to your right for the large red signs outside. I must have walked past this restaurant countless times but never thought of going in. I guess it was because I thought the signs and flags screaming "cheap lunches from 780 yen!" were a little tacky. If you're too far to walk or unsure of where Kiwami is, not to worry because for parties of two and up, they will pick you up from anywhere within the city!
The inside of the restaurant is a stark contrast to the overbearing advertising outside. There is no open dining area - they have private rooms that can accommodate from two all the way up to 30 people. This would be a great place to plan an event or just have an intimate lunch with a friend. The lunch menu is not extensive but does include a range in sets from the Saba Shioyaki (Grilled Mackerel) Set for 780 yen to the Deluxe Set for 2380 yen. I always get the Ladies' Set because it comes with sushi, tempura, chawanmushi, sashimi, and miso soup for just 1080 yen. As if that isn't enough food, you get to choose a soft drink with the lunch sets as well.
The Ladies' Set comes with a small complimentary dish usually made with vinegar to open up your appetite. The fish for the sashimi are fresh here and you can really taste the different flavors. I rarely use any soy sauce for the sushi or sashimi. The chawanmushi arrives piping hot and has a whole shrimp inside. Ah, and the tempura. I never quite liked tempura until I tried it in Japan because I had always felt it was more batter than substance. The tempura at Kiwami is lightly battered and crisp on the outside without overpowering the sweetness of the shrimp or vegetables. My favorite was surprisingly not the shrimp but the okra (lady's fingers). Many people dislike okra because of the texture but it's not as gooey in tempura form and is full of vitamins so give it a try if you get a piece in your lunch set!
I'm usually quite full after finishing the Ladies' set and the river pathway just outside is a great place for an afternoon stroll. Kiwami is also a 10-15 min walk to the Tenmonkan shopping district so you can walk off your lunch before indulging in more snacks and goods!
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