Situated in the Kamakura countryside among rolling hills, Raitei is as much about its ambiance as its food. But getting there was a little bit of a challenge. Because it is located on the outskirts of town, we had to take a bus. And when you don’t speak Japanese, taking the local bus can be a little intimidating. Armed with nothing but a vague idea of what bus to take and an even more vague idea of where to get off, we hopped on. We figured the worst we could do was get lost. Luckily, with a bit of guesswork, we found the place quite easily.
The site that houses the restaurant used to belong to wealthy farmers. The building was originally used as a private resort cottage before the owner converted it into a restaurant serving buckwheat noodles and traditional Japanese cuisine in 1969. I found the restaurant overlooking the garden totally charming. Tables and stools are made from pine logs from within the garden grounds, and the pottery used to serve food are lovingly fired from the restaurant’s own kiln.
If you’re there just for regular lunch, the restaurant serves reasonably-priced buckwheat noodles, tempura and a variety of lunch sets. And if you want the expensive kaiseki meals, you need to order in advance. I tried the cold soba set and The Hubs went for a sashimi bowl. I’m not exactly sure how else to describe the food at Raitei except to say that it was good – delicate with clean, wholesome flavours – especially the soba noodles.
Like I said earlier, dining at Raitei is as much about its ambiance as it is about its food. After lunch, we took a nice long walk around the garden grounds. Raitei goes down as one of the most peaceful and serene places we’ve ever dined in.
It opens daily from 11am to sunset (around 7pm)
We took bus no. 4 from stand 6 at Kamakura Station bus interchange and got off at the Takasago stop. From there, it’s about a 2-min walk before you spot the large Raitei sign along the road. There is an entrance fee of 500yen per person but this gets discounted off when you dine there.