By Nate Hill
In downtown Kochi, in a neighborhood call Harimaya-cho, there's a little izakaya that is, in my opinion, quintessentially Kochi. The restaurant is aptly named Yururi, meaning slow down and take it easy. Walking into this cozy, intimate restaurant imbues the relaxed feeling of the Kochi surfer culture. If at one point during your meal you should lose all desire to return back to the real world, don't worry as this is a common side effect.
The food at Yururi is also superb. Fresh, local vegetables and fish are used to create not only classic Kochi cuisine such as katsuo no tataki, or seared bonito, but also fused in a way to create interesting variations of some classics.
For example, the last time I was there, the fish and chips was one of the daily appetizers. What was different about these fish and chips? The fish was fried with avocado slices in a light but crispy tempura batter, and lightly sprinkled with salt and herbs—mind blowing stuff! It was so good, our table ordered one after the other.
Yururi is also excellent for the health conscious as well. Steamed vegetables, luscious green salads, and sashimi that literally melts in your mouth are also among the specialties of the chef.
The Japanese menu is stylistically written out by hand, but this nonetheless makes it very difficult to read. Fortunately, there is an English version to help you decipher everything.
Even with the English, there are still some ambiguous items, and no pictures to aid you in your selection. But, never fear! The chef and one of the other servers here speak English pretty well and enjoyed telling us all of their recommendations. If the point-and-go technique is not your style, feel free to ask in English—they are wonderful people!
The prices, excluding drinks, are moderate. Dinner for two shouldn't cost you more than 1500-2000 yen each, unless you're just really hungry. If you are heading in with a large group, I recommend making a reservation as it is not a very big place and fills up quickly.
Yururi is very easy to find. Take a left at the end of the wooden Harimaya Arcade when heading east. You'll find it on a corner a couple of blocks down. It will be the place with warm, soft light pouring out of the storefront, which is all one big window.
The sign is in hiragana, so look for ゆるり (Yururi).
Go. Relax. Eat. Drink. Talk. Refresh. It's the Kochi way.
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I've been living in Kochi since 2006. I enjoy taking every chance I can to ride my bicycle, camp, swim in rivers, relax on the beach, and explore the surrounding mountains -- all of which can easily be done in Kochi. We're out of the way, but worth it.I'd love to connect with you on Twitter @KochiJPTouristor Facebook.