Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2009

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama Port, the city’s waterfront area has been transformed into a sprawling playground. But the real action is happening in local restaurants, where lucky diners can take advantage of special menus and discounts created just for the occasion.

Courtesy of WDI

Courtesy of WDI

The dawn of the Meiji period heralded changes in virtually every aspect of Japanese culture, and diet was no exception. One of the most important was the addition of meat from four-legged animals, which had previously been considered taboo. Yokohama was at the center of this gastronomic revolution, and helped popularize dishes including gyu nabe (beef hotpot), a precursor to the modern sukiyaki. Get a taste of it at one of the city’s most famous sukiyaki restaurants. Araiya is offering special ¥2,500 gyu nabe lunch sets at its Bankokubashi branch thru September 30. The splendidly named keika gyu-nabe zen (literally “Civilization Beef Hotpot Set”) includes an individual hotpot, rice and a selection of side dishes. Rival joint Kissho has a similar set menu for ¥2,900 (¥3,900 with sashimi).

Araiya: 4-23 Kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-226-5003. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & 5-10pm, Sat-Sun & hols 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Bashamichi. www.araiya.co.jp

Kissho: 5F Landmark Plaza, 2-2-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-222-5522. Open daily 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Minato Mirai or Sakuragicho. www.kissho.co.jp