Kukai Bistro was a restaurant we'd driven past too many times to count, but only stopped into relatively recently. We were prompted to visit as the restaurant is participating in the annual Minamiuonuma Majidon Competition, where local businesses compete to create a unique donburi, or rice bowl dish. Kukai's donburi uses Minamiuonuma koshihikari rice, locally sourced beef, and a host of seasonal vegetables grown in the area including pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms.
We really enjoyed the donburi dish, and one thing we came to realize is that Kukai is a restaurant for meat lovers - there's no doubt about it. The regular menu predominantly centers around steak, with local and international beef on offer. They also serve up Japanese style hamburger steak, and Hokkaido raised pork.
Aside from the hearty food on offer, the views from the restaurant are incredibly scenic! You're able to admire the surrounding mountains (which were partially covered by clouds on the day of our visit) and the rice fields that this area of Japan is renowned for. It would be the perfect spot to enjoy a filling meal during winter when the fields are blanketed with snow.
There are both lunch and dinner sessions served at Kukai Bistro. Lunch hours are between 11.30 am and 3 pm, with last orders for lunch taken at 2.15 pm. Dinner hours are between 5.30 pm and 9.30 pm, with last orders being taken at 8.45 pm. The restaurant is closed every Tuesday, so bear that in mind if you're making a special trip.