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As children dread their inevitable return to school, parents nationwide wait with bated breath for the moment they no longer need to think of ways to keep their kids entertained during the long, hot days of summer.

It can be tricky finding a place that is both child-friendly and offers a half-decent menu — family restaurants are often the automatic choice, with their mediocre food and thin coffee.

Moku Moku Farm is a buffet restaurant that has two locations in Nagoya: one in the fashionable Lachic department store, the other in JR Towers’ food court above Nagoya Station.

Moku Moku Farm isn’t just a cute name, but refers to a real farm in Mie Prefecture that doubles as a family-friendly park with (obviously) great food that is produced on site. The food at the buffet is sourced directly from the farm, so everything is crisp and fresh.

The buffet includes a lot of seasonal foods, so expect a different menu depending on what time of the year you drop by.

There’s a wide range of dishes that cater to almost everyone’s dietary needs. For vegetable lovers there’s a lot to choose from, with loads of salad items and dressings of your choice, as well as chunky cucumbers and juicy tomatoes that you can take whole.

Mains often include a curry with wheat-infused rice, some simple pastas, several kinds of sausages and roasted meats (most commonly pork and chicken). There are also white, whole-grain and raisin breads in case you really need filling up, and if you still have room for dessert there are ice-creams, miniature cakes and the aforementioned raisin bread, sugar-coated and deep-fried.

For drinks there are teas, coffees and two or three freshly pressed juices, which also change with the season. The best of the bunch, however, is the goya (bitter gourd) and apple juice.

There are a number of wines, sake, shōchū (distilled spirits) and craft beers available, with the house wine costing ¥450 per glass or ¥2,600 for a bottle. The beers start at ¥500 per bottle, and all are OK, but the red lager is a particular favorite of mine.

It’s rare to find quality and quantity working in such harmony, especially at an affordable buffet, but everything from the sturdy wooden plates to the heavy earthenware cups show simplicity and class. The atmosphere is friendly, and although the restaurant is always busy it is never annoyingly bustling.

Children under the age of 2 eat for free (it’s ¥514 for kids aged 3 to 6), so you’ll see many families frantically stuffing fresh vegetables onto their children’s plates. The atmosphere is lively enough that there’s no need to worry about your child crying — it will just mix in with the din of the other guests. Besides, the staff are always friendly and the food is so good, your child should be smiling before too long.

Note: Although neither Nagoya locations have their own bathroom, some of the poshest public potties in Nagoya are nearby, and are perfect for changing smelly diapers. The toilets near both restaurants can get extremely busy, however, so be prepared to line up.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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