Often when choosing a place to enjoy a meal, the atmosphere of the venue is considered as much as the food on offer. If a slow, relaxing dining experience is what you're after - with some soothing views included - then Niigata's Garden Cafe Ichishima is one to put on the list when you're in the area.
The most popular item on the menu here is the seasonal vegetable curry, topped with a colorful range of goodies including kabocha squash, eggplant, asparagus, carrot, and broccoli. The curry comes served with a side salad for ¥1000. If you're after something sweet to accompany your meal, the anmitsu is another choice that wins over the patrons here. This traditional Japanese dessert is made up of agar agar jelly, various fruits, mochi, red bean paste, ice cream, and kuromitsu, a black sugar syrup. The cafe here serves their anmitsu with either green tea ice cream or vanilla ice cream - the choice is yours.
The eats here are great, but the garden may be the biggest drawcard - and one of the nicest things about visiting is that the scenery is so different depending on the time of year you stop by. The seasons here are extremely pronounced - lush green summers, autumn's vibrant changing leaves, snowy winters, and colorful spring blooms - including my favorite, pretty pink azaleas!
If you're looking for something else to occupy your time in this part of Japan, the cafe is connected to the Ichishima Sake Brewery which has been in operation for over 200 years. The brewery offers free tours, and no reservations are required unless you're visiting with a group of ten or more people.
Please note the cafe is closed at present due to the Stay at Home order from the Japanese Government in relation to COVID-19. They are keeping patrons updated on their Instagram account here.