Being on the other side of the railway tracks is no indication of the quality of the cuisine served up at Minami-no-Kaze. Excellent family-run restaurants run by the Italia diaspora are found throughout the world and, likewise, Yufuin’s Minami-no-Kaze deserves its reputation for some of the best Italian cuisine in Kyushu. The fact that it is wholly a Japanese family affair adds an extra frisson to any meal enjoyed here.

From a young age, the family’s son was an ardent fan of the Mediterranean cuisine. As soon as he reached his mid-teens he set off for Italy to learn his culinary skills under the tutelage at some of the best restaurants around the nation. On his return to Japan the family closed their western-style restaurant to create a farmhouse-style Italian establishment centred on his undoubted skills as chef. While he weaves his magic in the kitchen, the father amiably keeps front of house entertaining their guests, while his mother and sister ply expertly between tables with delicious dishes in hand.

Handmade pastas, gnocchi, sausages, bread and desserts are complemented by traditional favourites pizzas and rissotto. With the exception of Italian hams nearly all ingredients including chicken, beef, vegetables and salads, even a mozarella cheese, are freshly sourced from growers and producers within the immediate environs of Yufuin. Of course, their cellar houses a selection of good Italian wines.

Minami-no-Kaze, which serves meals throughout the day, provides an unhurried fragrantly delicious experience that many, including Italian residents of Japan, relish. And the gentle passage of the occasional train on the single-track railway line running aside the restaurant adds that something extra special.

Japan, Oita, Yufu, Yufuincho Kawakami, 3616 南の風

At a glance

A charming slow-food restaurant serving excellent Italian fare from breakfast through lunch to dinner.

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