Though summer in Hyogo can be sticky, there are days when the oppressive humidity gives way, and one’s thoughts turn to evenings of frosty beers in the open air as a light breeze rolls in.

Until recently I believed that, besides beer gardens, Japan just doesn’t do alfresco dining, but I have happily been proven wrong.  Here is a selection from the Kobe area.

Central Sannomiya

Pizzeria Tana Forno

www.tana26.com

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/k412102/lang/en

On the street behind the McDonalds opposite the Hankyu Station and Tully’s Coffee.  Lunch until 3pm; dinner from 5pm.  Reasonably priced lunch sets, and there is a wide variety of pizzas and appetizers for dinner. ¥1500 for lunch, ¥3000 for dinner.  Also offers an all you can drink option.

Korean Cuisine Japuche

www.ko-z.com/japuche

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/k130402/lang/en

Up the small street on the left of ドン キホーテ, this restaurant holds a table for 12 on the terrace, plus ten counter seats and four tables indoors as well as a party room to seat 40 guests.  Don’t miss the platter of assorted kimchi, cream cheese and chanja ganache, fresh spring rolls, yam salad with ume dressing, octopus and nori omlette. An average meal will set you back around ¥3000.  Open 5pm – midnight.

Laputa the Flanders Tale

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/c350315/lang/en

Lunch sets start from ¥890, an average dinner costs ¥3500; a la carte dishes include salads, seafood carpaccio, fresh pasta, gratins, pizza, rice dishes and dessert. Located behind Sogo department store on the 8th floor of Progres Kobe; open for lunch and dinner.  Seats 40 on the terrace and 60 indoors. English menu and English-speaking staff available.

Tooth Tooth Garden Restaurant

http://www.toothtooth.com/dining.html

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/k113401/lang/en

At the top of Kokusai Kaikan next to the Sogo Department Store, this restaurant looks out onto a rooftop garden.  Popular for lunch, quieter at dinner, you’ll find something to tempt you, whether one of the reasonable lunch sets (~¥1000) or from the dinner menu, the roast lamb, charcoal grilled beef, oysters and salmon stewed with cabbage in a cream sauce and scrumptious desserts.

The mid Diner

www.mid-kobe.jp

My personal favourite and popular with the locals, I considered for a moment keeping this to myself.  But as it’s easy enough to find (behind Tokyu Hands, opposite Ikuta Shrine and above the live venue, Chicken George) you’d likely find this on your own.  Offers pasta, sandwiches and desserts; will run you about ¥1000 for lunch and ¥2000 for dinner.  There are 12 seats outside, 30 inside.  Best of all, it’s open 24 hours.

Little Shanghai

www.little-shanghai.com

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/ka2f800/lang/en

Walk up Higashimon-suji from the south, the restaurant is halfway up on the left side.  Open for dinner only, dishes include standard Chinese fare – chilli prawns with mayonnaise, steamed gyoza, minced pork wrapped in lettuce, beef stew, balsamic pork and vegetable stir-fry, fried noodles and desserts.  Expect to pay about ¥3500.

Motomachi

Caffera

www.ufs.co.jp/brand/cfr/index

Outside the northeast entrance to Daimaru department store.  Good for a coffee and cake while people-watching.

Café Terrace & Bistro Mark Place

www.trusty.jp/kobe/event_plan/food/index.html

Walk south on Ikuta Road, two blocks past the large torii gate.  Located on the 2nd floor of Hotel Trusty.  A great place for a relaxed lunch, with modern western-style dishes and a pleasant setting.  Open 7am-11pm; breakfast until 11am from ¥1050, lunch from ¥1500 to ¥3500.  A la carte options and course sets served for dinner; after the kitchen closes at 9:30pm, stay on to enjoy the bar.

Bar & Bistro 64

www.kobe64.com

Next to the Trusty Hotel, open 11am – midnight.  Lunch sets from ¥1050 and include soup or salad, bread bar and drink.  Meat, seafood and pasta for dinner.  Offers a free-drink plan for ¥1575.

Central

www.cafe-restaurant-central.com/central.html

Down near the Immigration Office, this café is a convenient spot for a bite while grabbing a re-entry visa.  Lunch sets from ¥1200, dinner from ¥1500. Open 11am-10pm.

Kitano

Chada Thai

www.chada-thai.jp

Keep going up Higashimon-suji past Yamate Kansen and you’ll find Chada Thai on the right.  Lunch sets start from ¥980 and include dishes like tom yum ramen, coconut curry noodles, beef with basil stir-fry, green or red curry and pineapple fried rice.  The dinner menu also offers Thai sausages on skewers, spicy pork and lemongrass salad, minced pork and prawn spring rolls, soft-shell crab curry and tapioca with coconut milk for dessert.

Alo Aro

http://aloaro.net

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/c916400/lang/en

Located on Yamate Kansen near the four-way pedestrian overpass at the intersection with Flower Road. This little café serves healthy meals with lots of veggies on the pasta, pizzas, sandwiches and salads.  It’s a nice place to have a cup of coffee.  Lunch averages ¥1000, dinner ¥3000. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Garden Café Astarte

www.astarte-kobe.jp

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/c905102/lang/en

On Nakayamate-dori behind Ikuta Shrine, this café offers reasonable Italian fare for lunch and dinner from ¥1000.  Closed Wednesdays.  English spoken here, but not very well.

Bistro Café de Paris

www.cafe-de-paris.jp

Diagonally opposite the Starbucks up Kitanozaka, open for lunch and dinner.  Lunch sets from ¥1575; dinner menu includes grilled bass with herb sauce, roast red snapper in a red wine sauce, duck a l’orange, roasted lamb in grilled mustard and steamed pork with white beans.  Closes early – 10pm weekdays, 9pm on weekends.

Grande Maison Graciani Kobe Kitano

http://www.graciani-kobe.jp/espace/terrasse.html

Situated in an old foreign home up the top of the Kitano area, this French restaurant is for special occasions.  Offers lunch and dinner courses, from ¥3900 at lunch and ¥10,000 at dinner. Seats 40 on the balcony.  About 15 minutes walk from Sannomiya Station (up Higashimon-suji and keep going then turn left onto on Ijinkan-dori/ Yamamoto-dori), only five mins by taxi.

Plaisir Restaurant at Hotel Kitano Rokkoso

http://www.rokkoso.com/restaurant/r_plaisir.html

On the eastern end of Ijinkan-dori, this stylish hotel is a popular wedding venue. Lunch sets are priced at ¥1000, ¥1500, ¥2500 and ¥3500; dinner courses are ¥1800, ¥2500, ¥3800 and ¥5000.  Menu changes weekly.

Café Terasse de Paris

http://www.terrasse-de-paris.jp/

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/k422902/lang/en

Also on Ijinkan-dori, this is a branch of Café de Paris run by the same French owner.  Lunch sets start from ¥1500 and an a la carte menu is available for dinner.  Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday; Tuesdays dinner only.

Beer gardens

OK, so beer gardens are actually a great thing if you want to a few hours of drinks on a nice breezy evening. Kobe has lots of options:

  • Sogo Sky Beer Garden – ¥3500 for men, ¥3000 for women two hours nomi/tabehoudai. Ladies day Tuesday ¥2500. Open until September 22.
  • Hotel Okura Beer Garden – open from 5:30-9pm July 1 – September 18).  Plans start from ¥2000.
  • Kobe Portopia Hotel Beer Garden, 30th floor – open 5-9pm, last food order 8pm. ¥3500 per person, ¥3000 for pre-paid tickets.
  • ANA Crowne plaza Summer Beer Garden, 30th floor – open 6-9:30pm weekdays, 5-10pm weekends. ¥2500 nomi/tabehoudai for two hours.
  • Sannomiya Terminal Hotel Beer Garden, 12th floor – open 5-10pm.  Nomi/tabehoudai for 2.5 hours ¥3200 women, ¥3500 men.
  • Green Hill Hotel Beer Garden – open 5:30-9pm, ¥3500 per person.  Located up the street from Kobe YMCA.
  • Seaside Beer Terrace, 3rd floor Meriken Park Oriental Hotel – open 6-9:30pm weekdays 5-8:30pm weekends until September 5th. ¥2500 for adults with free drinks and fresh cut pineapple. Side dishes can be purchased separately from ¥500 a pop.