Kukai Bistro

A carnivore's heaven in Minamiuonuma

By Kim B    - 2 min read

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.

Getting there

Kukai Bistro is located in Minamiuonuma, along National Route 17. If you're driving there, on site parking is available.

Alternatively, if you're visiting the area via public transport, the closest station is Uonuma-Kyuryo on the Hoku Hoku Line. From the station, Kukai Bistro is approximately 20 minutes away on foot.

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Kim B

Kim B @kim.b

Japan dwelling expat, living in and loving this beautiful country. Tokyo was my home for several years, but I'm now enjoying the countryside life in Niigata. Currently at 44 of 47 prefectures visited - with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out!

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Elizabeth S 3 weeks ago
This looks delicious. And inspiring for donburi bento and dinner menu ideas.
Sleiman Azizi 3 weeks ago
The food looks great. The irony is that Kukai was the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism. Imagine him eating meat!
Sleiman Azizi 3 weeks ago
I'm curious now as to what the link between the original Kukai and this store is. They've cleverly left off using a kanji character for the Ku part of the name so it MAY not actually refer directly to Mr Shingon Buddhism. Ah, Japanese is cool with wordplay like that!