K O B E   R E S T A U R A N T

To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven --Ancient Chinese Proverb

Kobe Restaurant, Howell, New Jersey

explored & photographed by: Shady

Another Route 9 roadside find... the Kobe was a large Japanese restaurant and dinner theater that now sits dark and uninhabited at the edge of a scarred, weed-eaten parking lot, right off of 9

The Kobe is a huge place; I spent a lot of time wandering around shooting pics of it.  The main sign still stands, with dates from 92-98. An unused spotlight sits high atop the roof of the Kobe. There's a really big, beautiful round window on the side of the building that gives a glimpse inside at just how nice this place used to be, decorated with huge Japanese lanterns and fountains that are still in there

The place must have been gorgeous in it's heyday; there is a lush stand of bamboo trees wrapped around one side of the building, and a small creek runs alongside the place. Signs of exquisite Japanese landscaping are still found throughout the grounds, still lovely despite their neglect. A wooden stairway around back leads up to the roof, which has a nice, if somewhat lonely, view of the creek below. I couldn't help imagining what it must have been like to dine here when it was in it's prime... it seems so elegant.

An old ice machine sits forlornly out back. A neon arrow sign that once pointed the way toward the Kobe now points to nowhere. Pieces of the stoves and ovens are piled up against the back of the restaurant. The grounds around the place are starting to grow wild; there's some sort of big blue tank hidden in the woods out back, too.

I was sorta bummed that I never got to see this place when it was open... it looks like it was a really nice restaurant. The building is not in bad condition, just really neglected... who knows, maybe one day it will re-open as a restaurant?


This sign did not say this the day that I explored it- this somewhat amusing message popped up overnight a few months later. Har har har.


Our visitor Doug wrote, "I recently encountered your essay about the Kobe Japanese Restaurant on your lostdestinations.com web site. I enjoyed your writing - even though the story is so sad. Anyway, I was a busboy there in 1984-86. Your ideas about the elegant charm of that place are right on target. I'd love to share stories with you about the lovely waitresses, the magnificent showcase of Japanese culture, the friendliest boss I've worked for before or since...that place was terrific! Years later, I dumped one college for another because the former didn't offer courses in Japanese language. I'll always regret that I won't be able to take Mayumi Gorga on that date she promised me after I graduated from college..."

"I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your web site. I especially enjoyed the Route 9 photos. I was actually in the Kobe Restaurant a few times. They used to have a dinner-theatre shows there a long time ago, I went to a few with my wife and friends..." --Michael

"What I heard about the Kobe was that the small stream that runs next to the restaurant became polluted and they had to shut it down because it was contaminating their water." --Gene

Do you have any background information or stories to tell about this abandoned site?

Another Route 9 Roadside Find! For even more, check out Trippin' On 9


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