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Kyoto Restaurant Guide (3) / Kyoto Gion & Kodaiji

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Welcome to the Kyoto Food Page, a guide to help you explore the city's many fine restaurants and food markets. We'll also look at some of the specialties of Kyoto cuisine - tofu, kaiseki and vegetarian shojin-ryori - and show you where to sample them.

Kyoto Gion & Kodaiji

Heian Shrine area
Au Temps Perdu (Tea shop). 075-762-1299
Au Temps Perdu has a grand location - Higashiyama to the east, Heian-jingu to the north and the Shirakawa River out front. They serve no coffee, but an extensive range of teas as well as sherry, cava, and wine by the glass. 
Okazaki Enshojicho 64-1. Open 11am-8pm. Closed Mon, 1st, 3rd Tues.
Cafe Cube (Italian). 075-751-8606
Cafe Cube, inside the Hosomi Museum, serves nice Italian food at lunchtime, with a Y1500 set menu that includes appetizer, salad, pasta, bread and tea or coffee. The museum itself houses a private collection of Japanese antiquities, and the museum shop sells refined but inexpensive gifts such as ceramics, hand-dipped candles, bamboo and lacquerware.
Okazaki Saishojicho 6-3, Hosomi Museum. Open 10:30am-6:30pm. Closed Mondays.
Kyoto Nama Chocolat Organic Tea House (Tea shop). 075-751-2678
Black tea from Uji, the renowned tea-growing region south of Kyoto, is served in an array of pots and cups from throughout Japan. It's serious pleasure at a leisurely pace. A double pleasure is to have a cup of tea and cake while Hirofumi Nakanishi, master chef and creator of fresh Kyoto Nama Chocolat, packages your order to take away. 
Okazaki Tenno-cho 76-15. (one block east of Okazaki-michi, a two-minute walk south of Marutamachi; look for the big sign on the right hand side) Open noon-5pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays.
Okariba (Izakaya). 075-751-7790
The owner-chef of this rustic izakaya is also a hunter who bags much of the game served here. The menu includes unusual meats like wild boar (barbecued or stewed), bear stew, and sashimi of horsemeat and venison, along with novelties like bee larvae and grasshopper. Budget around Y4000-5500 per person with drinks.
Okazaki Higashi-Tennocho 43-4, Residence Okazaki 1F. (down the road from Hotel Heian no Mori) Open 5-10:30pm. Closed Mondays.
Tranq Room (Cafe). 075-762-4888
The dynamic menu at the Tranq Room is testimony to Yukihide Hirata's quest for the exotic. He hit that target recently with his all-organic Nama-yuba Donburi - shimeji mushrooms and fried tofu in a konbu-katsuo broth topped with raw tofu skin. The Indian curry set menus are the staple here - available all day for Y800, plus an extra Y200 for a drink.
Jodoji Shinyo-cho 162-2, Hirada Bldg B1F. (go west (away from the mountains) at the sign for Otoyo Jinja (the one with the stone mice) until you reach Shirakawa-dori; turn right - Tranq Room is north of the pedestrian overpass on the west side of the street; in front of Shinnyodo-mae bus stop, by bus from Kawaramachi station) Open noon-midnight. Closed Tuesdays.
Tsuruya (Kyo-ryori). 075-761-0171
Another very famous, very expensive Kyoto kaiseki restaurant with top-class food and service. Located near Heian Shrine, they're known for their more-lavish-than-usual gardens, which can be viewed while you're dining. Dinner menus start at Y38,000, but you can try their non-kaiseki seasonal lunch sets for around Y8000, a relative bargain. (Regular kaseki lunch is Y15,000).
Okazaki Higashi-Tennocho 30. (on Marutamachi Street, a few min. E of Heian Shrine and just E of Okazaki junior high school) Open 11:30am-2, 5-7pm (LO) daily.

South from Sanjo Keihan Station
Canoviano (Italian). 075-531-9831
One of the nicest Italian dining rooms in town, in a modern new restaurant complex surrounded by dramatically lit bamboo groves. Service is first-rate and the food is skillfully prepared and artfully presented, a pleasing mix of traditional and modern Italian. Lunches from Y3000, dinners from Y5000, wines from Y4500/bottle.
Daikokucho 137, Kyouen. Open 11:30am-2, 6-9:30pm (LO) daily.
Yururi (Japanese). 075-532-1744
Yururi's rambling two-story space has a homey feel and a friendly vibe, and the centerpiece at each table is a serious charcoal-burning brazier on which you can grill your own meats and vegetables. Budget around Y3500 for dinner and drinks.
Daikokucho 137, Kyouen. Open 11am-2, 5-11pm (LO) daily.

Ricordi (Italian). 075-541-1199
Designer Italian fare and an excellent Italian wine-bar in this architecturally ambitious two-story restaurant.
Benzaitencho 17, Sfera Building 4F. (W side of Nawate, 2 1/2 blocks north of Shijo) Open 6pm-3am. Closed Wednesdays.
Picasso (Liquor shop). 075-525-6050
A wine specialty shop. The big selection here is strongest in French and Italian wines.
Benzaitencho 15, Space Shimbashi 1F. (W side of Nawate, 2 blocks north of Shijo) Open 2pm-midnight. Closed Sundays.
Grill Miyata (Steak house). 075-525-0848
Monsieur Miyata claims to grill the best steaks in town, and who are we to argue? His no-frills basement shop is charmingly unfashion-conscious, apprearing to have gone through only minimal decorative changes since it opened in the 1960s. Domestic Japanese beef steaks start at around Y5000, and a 200-gram wagyu hamburger set dinner is Y3000; there's also a mixed grill.
Gion Nawate Shijo-agaru. (1 block E and N of Shijo-Ohashi intersection) Open 5-10:30pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
Kappa (Robatayaki). 075-531-4048
Grilled fish and other izakaya fare in a lively, extremely casual setting. An English menu is available, and prices are reasonable.
Nawate-agaru 2-suji-me Shijo-dori, Higashi-kita-kado Sueyoshi-cho. (on Nawate 2 corners N of Shijo) Open 6pm-4am daily.
Matsuno (Unagi). 075-561-2786
Accessible Kyoto-style grilled unagi, in a popular little shop just east of the Minamiza kabuki theater. Unagi seiro-mushi (steamed eel) is one of their specialties. Eel over rice starts at Y1785, and omakase dinners range from Y7500 to Y16,000. Take-out is available, from Y2000.
Shijo-dori Minamiza-higashi 4-ken-me. (on Shijo 4 doors E of Minami-za theater) Open 11:30am-8:30pm (LO). Closed Thursdays.
Izuju (Sushi). 075-561-0019
This 100-year-old shop specializes in saba-zushi (mackeral pressed onto squares of rice), although they have other seasonal fish as well. A six-piece assortment of saba and inari-zushi is Y1340.
Gion-machi Kitagawa 292-1. (corner of Shijo and Higashi-oji-dori, across from Yasaka Shrine) Open 11:30am-8pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Takocho (Oden). 075-525-0170
This no-frills counter shop has been here for more than 100 years, devoting themselves generation after generation to the mysterious art of gourmet oden preparation. Swimming in the konbu broth are some 18 varieties of oden, including octopus and seasonal items like ginkgo nuts and bamboo shoots.
Miyagawasuji 1-237. (on Kawabata-dori and Donguri-dori, just S of Shijo Keihan subway station) Open 6-9:30pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Spontane (French). 075-541-5005
Great French cooking in an old-fashioned bistrot setting. Chef Tanioka uses top-grade ingredients and even grows his own vegetables. Prix-fixe lunches from Y1300, dinners from Y3800.
Miyagawasuji 4-321-6, Riverside Yu 1F. (along the river on Kawabata-dori just N of Matsubara Bridge, about 7 min. S of Shijo Keihan subway station) Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-9pm. Closed Mondays.

Kodaiji Temple area
Minoko (Kaiseki). 075-561-0328
This elegant old teahouse is a wonderful place to experience cha-kaiseki. Distinct from regular (banquet-style) kaiseki, this is a very formal style of meal associated with the traditional tea ceremony. The meal begins with a bowl of thick green tea, and progresses through a multitude of tiny dishes. Here the meal is served in private tearooms looking out onto a pretty garden. Cha-kaiseki menus at dinnertime start at Y15,000. At lunchtime you can order a bento box in the tatami room overlooking the garden - prices start at Y3500.
Gion Shimogawara-dori Kiyoicho 480. (1 1/2 block S of Yasaka Shrine on W side of Shimogawara-dori, across from parking lot) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-8pm (LO) daily.
Wakuden (Kaiseki). 075-533-3100
This venerable old traditional ryotei has three branches around town, but this is the most luxurious, with a gorgeous setting and world-class food. Lunch starts at Y15,000, dinners from Y25,000.
Kodaijikitamonmae-sagaru Kawarahigashi. (one block N of W end of Kodaiji Temple) Open 11:30am-2, 5-10pm. Closed Sundays.
Karoku (Yakiniku). 075-561-6500
The setting looks a lot like a typical traditional Japanese restaurant, with a gorgeous interior courtyard, but the food is first-rate Korean - high-grade yakiniku plus side dishes like tripe fritters, pine nut rice gruel and seafood chijimi pancakes. Drinks include premium Australian and Spanish red wines. Dinner is around Y6000-8000 with drinks.
Yasaka-dori Higashioji-nishi-iru. (on Yasaka-dori just W of Higashi-oji-dori) Open 5-10:30pm (LO) daily.
Kogetsu (Japanese). 075-531-6178
Kogetsu is best known for its hamo (aka conger eel), one of Kyoto's famous local dishes, but they also serve sushi and udon with Kyoto vegetables. Full-course hamo and other seasonal seafood dinners are around Y15,000, and more varied kaiseki menus start at Y10,000. Hamo season is May through October by the way; in winter you'll find crabmeat in its place.
Shimokawara Kodaiji Monzen, Shimokawara 469. (just W of Kodaiji Temple; from Higashiyama-Yasui intersection walk 2 blocks E, 1 block S, 1 block E) Open 11:30am-1:30, 5-8pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
Kikunoi (Kaiseki). 075-561-0015
Chef Yoshihiro Murata is well known in Japan for his frequent TV appearances and his innovative cooking style, incorporating European influences for a new approach to traditional Kyoto-style kaiseki. Prix-fixe menus start at Y8000 at lunch; Y15,000 at dinnertime.
Gion Maruyama Makuzugahara. (on the N edge of Kodaiji) Open noon-2, 5-8pm daily.
News Deli (Sandwiches/deli). 075-533-7056
Moderately priced deli-style items, both Japanese and Western, from this popular cafe chain. Lunch is served until 5pm.
Shimizu 4-180. Open 11am-8pm (LO) daily.
Doi (Kaiseki). 075-561-0309
First-rate kaiseki in a gorgeous traditional ryotei setting. One unusual feature is their "table kaiseki," where you get to sit in a regular chair instead of on a floor cushion and save a lot of money at the same time. Evening kaiseki menus start at Y9,000 for table service, Y25,000 for traditional tatami-room service. Lunches start at Y7,500 and Y16,000 respectively.
Kodaiji Masuyacho 353. (on a small side street about 3 min. S of Kodaiji) Open noon-3:30, 4-8pm daily.
Il Ghiottone (Italian). 075-532-2550
The original, very modern Italian cuisine here takes full advantage of the high-quality vegetables and seafood that are locally available. Dinners average around Y5000 a la carte for food, while the wine list offers a number of decent choices under Y6000 per bottle. Lunch is Y3500-5000. The dining room is tiny, but in a very picturesque location, right next to Yasaka Pagoda.
Shimo-Kawaramachi-dori Tonomaesagaru, Yasakakamimachi 388-1. (just N of Yasaka Pagoda) Open noon-2:30, 6-9:30pm (LO). Closed Tuesdays.

By JS on Dec 18, 2010

tag : Kyoto Restaurant Guide



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