Kikushin is just across the road from the East Exit of Echigo Yuzawa Station and a fantastic choice if you are looking for a feed before catching your train. It has a wide range of great value sets as well as a contender for the best tempura you will ever eat.
Like many of the outstanding restaurants in small town Japan it is family owned and you are likely to see two generations working in the open kitchen any time that you are there. There are youngsters in the wings too that will hopefully continue the tradition of great food for years to come. They have a basic English menu that has all the main sets on it, though the specials aren't listed. The sets are really good value, each being around the thousand yen mark. As each component is ready, they are laid out on trays on the counter that divides the restaurant from the kitchen, and if you are facing the right way you can expectantly watch soup, pickles, salad, rice and the main dish being plated up tantalizingly close to you.
I'm a great advocate for trying new things but I must admit I really struggle to waver from my favorite here – a bowl of several different kinds of tempura mushrooms on rice drizzled in a slightly sweet sauce. They have perfected the art of tempura with super crispy batter coating the delicious locally grown mushrooms. No matter what you order, I would strongly recommend a side plate of the tempura mushrooms. They come with a dipping sauce or salt and are out of this world. (So good in fact that guzzling them often takes priority over photographing them.)
Everything on the menu is tempting and there is a wide range, with a variety of meats and fish. The sushi is good, and the ginger pork is another favorite but locally, the item they are well-known for is their home-made noodles – either soba or udon. The udon are thin cut rather than the thick ones you get in most places but perfect none the less. For a winter warmer the hot noodles served in broth are sure to satisfy, or in the summer months try them cold.
For the full experience a glass of local sake (either hot or cold) or some plum wine (both of which are available by the bottle as a souvenir in their little shop) are the ideal accompaniment.
Kikushin never disappoints and is one of those restaurants you would take people to in order to show them the best of Japanese cuisine.