While not in Utsunomiya, I am taking the time to introduce a pretty unique restaurant still in Tochigi (Mashiko, to be precise): Ookawado Drive In, which is famous for their nagashi-somen (or chilled somen noodles that you “fish out” of a spinning…arena). It’s just easiest to see a picture of it:
Make sure you come with a group, because you need to sit at your own round table to eat. The system is that you pay 500 yen for a portion for one person of somen, and then once they’re ready, they let the noodles loose in the spinning water arena. You use your chopsticks to catch your noodles, dip it in the tsuyu sauce, and chow down. Since you’ll be eating off and dipping your chopsticks back into the same water as everyone else, make sure you come with people whose germs you trust–and who you trust will eat their fair share portion size of noodles, since it’s basically a free-for-all.
They also have a few other items on their menu, such as a tempura medley, which includes your standard tempura items such as shrimp, mushrooms, and other vegetables. They also have some freshly caught trout they can grill up for you; they have a fishing pond out front, and I assume that is where this comes from (you can also catch you own if that’s your thing).
While this isn’t a one-and-only type of place, these nagashi-somen restaurants are a bit few and far between–therefore they’re a bit pricy for the amount of food you actually get. Lastly, ensure you go with a group where someone can drive–as the name implies, it’s not the easiest place to get to from public transport.
Featured image credit to Tabelog.