Kamakura Gozan Bekkan 五山別館 (Kamakura)

Location: Kamakura, Japan
Address: 1531 Yamanouchi (right across from the Kenchoji Temple)
Type of Meal: Lunch

Kamakura is a region in Japan, only an hour train ride away from Tokyo, filled with shrines, temples and forests. During our day trip, I was determined to try shōjin ryōri (vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) but after leading our group on a 30 minute walk away from Kamakura’s city centre towards Kita Kamakura found the restaurant closed.
Too hungry and tired to walk back, we went into Kamakura Gozan Bekkan, a little noodle house across the street instead. Their menu is also limited to vegetarian options, except is soba or udon in various soup bases (tsukimi, natto, sensai, hiyshi sansai, etc.).

I ordered the house speciality, kenchin udon (¥900) an autumn vegetables based soup simmered together with tofu, miso and sesame oil. There were so many ingredients in it that I’m sure I’m missing some.  I recall soft root vegetables (radish and carrot), crunchy preserved veggies, a root jelly (could have been lotus or burdock?), onions, delicate tofu and toasted nori (seaweed) strips. It had such a wonderful scent and so warm & welcoming after a long cold walk. The hot broth was amazing … a little thicker and filled with flavour. The udon is thinner and softer than the North American versions but went well with everything.

After warming up and exiting Kamakura Gozan Bekkan, we realized Kencho-ji (one of Japan’s earliest Zen temples) was directly across the street.  Originally, it wasn’t one of the attractions we were planning to visit but ended up being the highlight of the trip! The buildings in the temple were ornate and pleasant but really weren’t that different from other shrines and temples across Japan.

What made the Kencho-ji visit so worthwhile was walking towards the back of the grounds and climbing all the stairs to the top. 

 If you continue past Hanso-Bo (a prayer area with a bell) and walk up the makeshift rocks going up the mountain, you’ll eventually get to an observation deck in the forest. We were treated with an amazing view of Mount Fuji, the Sea of Japan and Tokyo. So, what could have been a disappointment ended really well – a delicious bowl of vegetarian noodles and a lovely tranquil view of Japan.
Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!