Chikushitei is a jewel of a restaurant making it one of Oita’s, if not Kyushu’s, finest. A traditionally formal entrance lends an almost hidden-in-plain-view feel to Chikushitei that belies the delightful wonders both gastronomic and architectural found within.

Entering Chikushitei is taking a step into an older and rarer atmosphere, increasingly uncommon in Japan’s regions. Pass over the threshold and the modern Nakatsu townscape abruptly vanishes both physically and emotionally. Hereon a labyrinth of corridors, rooms and inner courtyard gardens, all emanating a refined patina, take guests into a peacefully self-contained elegance from the early days of the 20th Century Japan.

These gorgeous surroundings are the perfect symbiotic counterpart to Chikushitei’s exquisite cuisine. Each meal is a cornucopia of the freshest local ingredients served with such artistic elan that each dish is a sensory delight for both the eyes and the palate. The star ingredient is Nakatsu’s speciality, hamo conger eel.

Chikushitei’s hostess, always elegantly attired in kimono, provides a generously warm welcome. She is evidently proud of and dedicated to her restaurant, and embodies the best of Japanese hospitality. She is also a fount of knowledge about local traditions and history, and delights in regaling, enthusiastically and informatively, her guests (although for those who do not understand Japanese a translator will be necessary). It is not surprising to know that the great and good of Japan, including its emperors and princes, have dined here, and also that it is Michelin starred.

There is a lot to savour at Chikushitei but make sure to leave with another house speciality, Kenchin steamed cake as a gift for your friends. Conjured from soya bean, kikurage mushrooms, soy sauce and sugar, Kenchin is a unique and sublimely flavoured treat.

Chikushitei, 1692 枝町 Nakatsu, Oita, Japan

At a glance

A jewel in Oita's world of cuisine.

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