Ishiuchi Drive-In Yakiniku

Popular local hangout for those looking to eat meat

By Rufus Starbuck    - 2 min read

Ishiuchi Drive-In Yakiniku Restaurant is a bit of a landmark around here. In a tourist area, where visitor numbers are constantly up and down, it always manages to be busy. There is very rarely a time you drive past and don’t see smiling faces inside flipping tasty meat on the grill. That is no mean feat considering it is open about 15 hours a day.

Ishi-Dora (as it is known to the locals) is a solid BBQ experience - everything they do, they do well. There are flashier BBQ restaurants in the area but Ishi-Dora seems to be the go-to option if you want no fuss and good value meat. And there is plenty of meat. The menu will take you a while to wade through (they do have an English version if you are overwhelmed by the long read) as there are pages and pages of different cuts for various animals. Each arrives on its own platter and you throw it on the gas grill in the center of the table to cook. There is also a large selection of side dishes that complement the meats. A rice and miso set is a staple. There are a couple of spicy soups that are amazing, the Korean rice in a stone bowl is always a feast, and the salads are generous and tasty. A personal favorite are the garlic cloves that stew away in a little pan on the grill until they are soft and juicy.

If you are feeling adventurous there are a selection of more unusual meats to choose from, ranging from local boar and deer, through to not-so-local ostrich, kangaroo, crocodile, and even camel.

Looking around the tables at night, beer is by far the most popular drink but they also carry a wide range of cup sakes if you are looking for a bit of regional flavor for your tipple.

Ishi-Dora open at eight in the morning so if you are up early to hit the slopes at Ishiuchi Maruyama, which you can see from the car park you could tuck into a high protein feast for breakfast. They also do a good selection of lunch sets for one thousand yen. No matter what time you go you won’t be alone and will often have to queue - it is well worth the wait though.

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Rufus Starbuck

Rufus Starbuck @rufus.starbuck

Hanging out in the mountains of Niigata. Arrived by accident and yet to leave. Seem to spend far too much time eating... 

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