Where to Eat in Kyoto: Our 30 Favorites

Where to Eat in Kyoto: Our 30 Favorites

Experience history and culture through food by going on a food spree in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan.

When one thinks of Japan, one thinks almost automatically of Tokyo. While the huge and bustling neon-lit city may be the considered as the "center of Japan", being a perfect mix of cutting-edge technology and tradition, it would be a shame for visitors to Japan to miss out on Kyoto, which is considered one of its most beautiful historical cities. Kyoto, the former capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years and "home to the emperor from 794 to 1868", is also known as “the city of a thousand temples.” This city features a rich history and vast cultural heritage.

If you're looking for a more ancient and traditional side to your Japanese experience, then Kyoto would be a good place to go to. It is only 3 hours from Tokyo by bullet train, which would make a great day trip or a side trip for a few days. It's a great escape from the big city which features an excellent foodie scene. From ramen, tempura to traditional kaiseki cuisine, one of the best ways to experience what the city has to offer is through dining. Here are some of our top picks:

Kendonya

It is definitely worth a trip to Kendonya for their udon—this restaurant features udon noodles that are excellently chewy or “koshi”, and it’s definitely not easy to make noodles have this texture. The noodles are paired with a soup called “dashi jiru”, which is a relatively light soup but with a deep, sophisticated flavor. Together, they make an amazing bowl of noodles that can’t be found anywhere else.

Kendonya is located at Kyoto Pearl Apartment House Ina Re, 1F, 41 Fukakusa Ichinotsubocho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Hours:
11am-3pm, 5pm-8:30pm, Thursdays to Tuesdays
Closed on Wednesdays
Price Range: Lunch, ¥ 999; Dinner, ¥999. Cash only.

Nezameya

Nezameya is famous for its roasted quails and sparrows. The delicate meat is delicious, and is comparable to unagi (eel). Be enticed by the appealing smells as they are being roasted in front of you. These are some of the rare Japanese dishes that you don’t usually find on your dining table, but be adventurous and give these a try—you won’t regret it!

Nezameya is located at 82-1, Fukakusa Inari Onmaecho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
9am to 6pm, open daily
Price Range: Lunch ¥1,000 to ¥1,999. Cash only.

Inafuku

Inafuku is another place that serves sparrows and quails. But what makes Inafuku so special is their secret sauce. Once you taste the roasted birds with the sauce, you will understand why people keep coming back for more.

Inafuku is located at 2-4 Kaidocho Fukakusa Fushimiku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
9am to 5pm, Wednesdays to Mondays
Closed on Tuesdays
Price Range: Lunch ¥999; Dinner ¥999. Cash only.

Nishiki Warai

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Okonomiyaki are Japanese pancakes cooked on a table-top griddle and featuring a variety of ingredients from seafood, meats and vegetables, and every visitor to the country should at least try it once—or as is mostly the case, LOTS of times. Located at the west part of the Nishiki Market, this Nishiki Warai is one of the best places in the city to enjoy okonomiyaki.

Tip: Nishiki Warai also serves great yakisoba.

Nishiki Warai is located at 1F M’s Court Building, 597 Nishiuoya-cho, Takakura-nishi-iru, Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Hours:
11:30am-12pm (last order 11:15pm)
Price Range: ¥1000-¥2999.

Tousuiro

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Tousuiro is a tofu palace, and the kitchen geniuses at this place can do more with tofu than you could have ever imagined! Tousuiro is a favorite among Kyoto’s vegetarians and also people who love bean-curd.

Tousuiro is located in a narrow alley off Kiyamachi-dori, along the Kamo-gawa river. With a traditional Japanese atmosphere, it serves divine tofu dishes, each artfully made.

Tip: In warmer months, you might want to sit on the outside deck overlooking the river.

Tousuiro is located at 517-3 Kamiosaka-cho, Sanjo-agaru, Kiyamachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Hours:
11:30am-2pm (last order), 5pm-9:30pm (last order) Mondays to Saturdays
12pm-8:30pm (last order), Sundays
Price Range: ¥2000 - ¥5999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTER, JCB, AMEX

Wasabi

Wasabi is a stylish, casual sushi restaurant in Gion, and is a great place to relax with a few drinks while enjoying great Japanese food. The sushi is authentic—no fusion rolls here—and charcoal grilled beef, chicken and vegetables.

Wasabi is located at Hitosujime Kitakado Tominagacho Higashi iru Shijo Agaru Nawate Dori Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
6pm-4am, open daily
5pm-12am, holidays
Closed on Sundays
Price Range: Lunch ¥ 1000-¥ 1999; Dinner ¥ 4000-¥ 4999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, Diners, Amex, JCB

Tagoto

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Tagoto is a delight to the senses, as you have a little of everything here at this restaurant. Located on the 11th floor of the Kyoto Station, Tagoto serves traditional Kyoto cuisine, and also Japanese favorites such as soba, sushi and tempura. Portions are generous at reasonable prices.

Kyoto Station Building, The Cube 11F, 901 Higashishiokoujicho Shiokoji Sagaru Karasuma dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
11am-10pm, last order at 9:30pm
Price Range: ¥ 1000-¥ 1999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, Amex, JCB

Futaba

Futaba specializes in Mame Daifuku—daifuku mochi rice cake with bean paste. It’s one of the most popular sweets around, and it’s easy to see why: the daifuku is tender as marshmallows, and the sweet bean paste is kept from being too cloying with a dash of salt to balance it out, and the crunchy peas adds superb depth to the cake. You definitely won’t stop at just one!

Futaba is located 55 Nakanocho Inari Fukakusa, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
9am to 6pm, Fridays to Wednesdays
Closed on Thursdays
Cash only

Hougyokudou

Hougyokudou is famous for Inari Senbei, or the rice crackers with a fox’s face on them. The fox is a symbol of the nearby Fushimi Inari Shrine. The crackers are beautifully made, with an intricate design on each cracker. They taste amazing too—a bit of light sweet white miso paste and savory roasted sesame. No wonder it’s one of the most popular (and tasty!) souvenirs for visitors of the shrine.

Hougyokudou is located at 27, Fukakusa Ichinotsubocho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
7:30am-7pm, open daily
Cash only

Torisuke

Tucked in a little alley in Gion, this restaurant may require a bit of looking find, but is definitely worth the search. As the name implies, it specializes in chicken dishes. The chicken used here is so fresh, you can eat it raw! In fact, the star of the show here is the chicken sashimi or raw chicken meat!

Torisuke is located at 347, Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
7pm to 5am, Mondays to Saturdays
Closed on Sundays and holidays
Price: Dinner ¥4,000 - ¥4,999. Cash only

Torishin

Torishin probably serves the best bowl of Oyakodon—a rice bowl of chicken and egg—in the city. This eatery only serves said bowl during lunch time, at two sizes: the regular and the large. Come dinner time, you can also order yakitori.

Torishin is located at Gion Nawate Shijo Agaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
12pm to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm, Fridays to Wednesdays
Closed on Thursdays
Price Range: Lunch ¥999; Dinner ¥ 3000-¥ 3999. Cash only

Yasohachi

Yasohachi is more than a yakitori restaurant, it’s a barbecue restaurant where you can skewer and grill the freshest vegetables, and the freshest beef and pork as well. Their chicken is from Tanba, and Tanba chicken is known as one of the very best in Japan. The water they use is taken from the well of Pontochou, and rice from Kameoka. (Again, Kameoka rice is known to be the most fragrant and delicious, with a delightful sticky texture.) It is very evident that Yasohachi only serves the best of the best: the best ingredients to create the best dishes. No wonder this place is packed all the time, especially with its super reasonable prices.

Yasohachi is located at 192 Shimokorikicho Sanjo Sagaru Pontocho Dori Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
5pm-12am, last order at 11pm. Open daily
Price Range: ¥3000 - ¥4500. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, Diners, MUFG, Amex

Chojiro

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When you want an excellent sushi experience, come to Chojiro, where the sushi is exceptional and the service is friendly and attentive. Chojiro serves amazingly fresh and tasty high-quality sushi at a surprisingly low price. It’s the same quality—perhaps even better—than the high-end sushi places nearby.

This sushi place is beloved by both locals and tourists alike. Why? With multi-lingual menus on their iPads, it makes ordering sushi in a non-English speaking country super easy.

Chojiro is located at 103-2, Hashimotocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto B1F
Hours:
12:00pm – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 1:00am, Mondays to Fridays
12:00pm – 1:00am, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
Price Range: Lunch,¥1,000 -¥1,999; Dinner,¥2,000~¥2,999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, JCB, Amex

Konnamonja

Located next to a tofu store, this shop creates the best desserts with soy milk—from doughnuts to ice creams, and even corn dogs!

Konnamonja is located at 494 Nakauoya Nishiki Kouji Agaru Sakaimachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Hours:
10am-6pm
Cash only

Hashitate

Source: http://sharing-kyoto.com

Hashitate serves the best seafood rice bowls, and is a sister restaurant of the famous Wakuden. The Hashitate Don is the most popular item on the menu: you will get a seafood rice bowl with grilled bonito, shrimps and conger, plus another rice bowl with tempura taro, eggplant and other vegetables.

Located right inside the Kyoto Station, you can try real Kyoto-style cuisine here at reasonable prices!

TIP: End your meal with a set of lotus rice cakes and Matcha.

JR Kyoto Isetan SUVACO 3F, 901Higashishiokoujicho Shiokoji Sagaru Karasuma, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Hours:
11am-10pm, open daily
Closed on SUVACO JR Kyoto Isetan holidays
Price: ¥2000- ¥3000. Credit cards accepted: JCB, VISA

Nishiri

Vegetable dishes are gaining popularity in Japan with the increasing number of vegetarians among its denizens. Nishiri is a unique restaurant specializing in tsukemono—or Japanese pickled vegetables. This restaurant offers tsukemono rice bowls to tsukemono sushi, which features the pickled vegetables instead of fish.

Nishiri is located at the Kyoto Station Building, The Cube B1F, 901 Higashishiokoujicho Shiokoji Sagaru Karasuma dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours:
8:30am-8pm,open daily
Price Range: ¥1000-¥1999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, Mastercard, JCB, Amex

Tsujitome Kyoto Isetan

Bento—or lunch boxes—is a food phenomenon in Japan, and here at Tsujitome, you can have those beautifully prepared bento boxes you always see on TV! Containing rolled egg, grilled fish, shrimp balls, sesame marinated vegetables and vinegared sushi, these gorgeous bento boxes is a feast for the eyes, and the tongue with its differently delicious flavors. Plus it’s healthy too!

Tsujitome is located at JR Kyoto Isetan B2F, 901 Higashishiokoujicho Shiokoji Sagaru Karasuma dori Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Hours:
10am-8pm, open daily
Closed on Kyoto Isetan is closed
Price Range: ¥5000-¥5999. Cash only

Mimiu Gion

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Come to Mimiu Gion to experience its Udonsuki. What is Udonsuki, you ask? It is a special nabe dish from Western Japan. Assorted meat and vegetables are stewed together in a shallow pot. Imagine all these different flavors coming together and complementing each other beautifully, producing a rich, flavorful soup. Add chewy udon noodles to the mix, and you've got a local favorite.

Mimiu Gion is located at Gion Oki Building 3F & 4F, 216, Shijo-dori Yamato-oji Nakano-cho, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0075
Hours:
11:30am-9:30pm, last order at 9pm.
Price Range: ¥2,000 ~ ¥3,000. Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTER, JCB, AMEX

Teppan-kappou Sou

If you love beef, Teppan-kappou Sou is the place where you can enjoy some of the best beef found in Japan. Teppan-kappou Sou is located in the bustling district in Gion, but is tucked away form the busy streets of Kyoto. Serving delicious gourmet dishes in an elegant setting, guests will surely have a memorable dining experience here.

Teppan-kappou Sou serves only the highest quality of beef in Japan—which is Wagyu A5—and only the best and highest quality of meat can have the A5 seal in Japan. The meat is so good, it's life changing!

The must order here is the set meal called "Shou", which includes seasonal vegetables, a daily soup and a choice between giant, succulent shrimps, Japanese beef fillet or the famous tenderloin, all grilled to perfection. The meal also comes with a green salad, rice, miso soup, a side of pickled Japanese vegetables, plus coffee and sherbet of your choice.

Teppan-kappou Sou also has a great selection of Japanese and international wines that will surely be a great pairing for your meals. Both the manager and the chef here are sommeliers, and would be more than happy to help you out.

If you like curry, then you are in luck. While many Wagyu beef restaurants serve curry, the curry here at Teppan-kappou Sou has an original, unforgettable flavor that is found nowhere else. The curry is made with wagyu, and cooked with an original roux and a variety of spices of the chef's own recipe.

Want a lighter meal, or something that you can take out in a hurry? Get the Meibutsu Wagyu Katsu sandwich! Deep fried wagyu cutlets bathed in a secret sauce, topped with shredded lettuce, enveloped by two pieces of freshly baked bread. This is a treat you can't find elsewhere.

Although it is located in Gion, a district famous for its ridiculously expensive prices, the prices here at Teppan-kappou Sou is surprisingly reasonable for food of this quality. No wonder a 3-day reservation is recommended if you want to snag a table here. Delicious food at great prices, plus a friendly atmosphere will surely keep you coming back.

Teppan-kappou Sou is located at Onishi Bldg II 1F, Nishino-cho 216-2, Higashiyama-ku, Nawate-dori Shinbashi-agaru, Kyoto
Phone Number: +81 75 551 4515
Hours:
Dinner: 5:30 PM - 3 AM
Closed on Sundays and varied holidays.
Price Range: ¥8,400 ~ ¥20,000. Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTER, JCB, AMEX, Diners.

Hachiokian

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This restaurant specializes in chicken dishes, everything from rice bowls to ramen bowls. When we talk about specialization, we mean an intense study from the egg, to the way the chicken was raised, and how to cook them.

But this devotion pays off, as Hachiokian's chicken truly stands out with its original "chicken-y" taste. The chef uses minimal seasoning that only serves to complement and bring out the natural taste of the meat.

A must try here is definitely the Oyako-don, a rich, rich bowl of chicken and topped with fresh egg, and served with fragrant hot rice. The Oyako-don is definitely the epitome of this unique way of serving chicken.

Hachiokian is located on the 7th Floor of the Kyoto Takashimaya, 52 Shincho Kawaramachi Nishi iru Shijo Dori Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Phone: 075-221-8811
Hours:
10am - 9pm
Price Range: ¥1,000 ~ ¥2,999. Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTER

Chihana

If you have never tried Chihana before, then you have another excuse to go back to Kyoto. Chihana is a 3-Michelin Star restaurant that specializes on Kaiseki—a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that showcases the skills and techniques used to prepare such amazing meals. One can say that Kaiseki is comparable to French Haute cuisine.

Chihana is situated in one of the busiest streets in Gion District which is famous for being the "Geisha District of Japan" when it was still its capital city. Luxury and culture makes a great mix.

Now what's great about Chihana is that you can see the food being made in front of you and can watch the amazing techniques of the chef and his assistant, on how they turn simple ingredients into something amazing and delicious. It is a definitely a feast for the eyes. Another perk of eating over the counter (aside from getting a front row seat) is that you can freely ask the chef and assistant questions regarding the dishes they are preparing, especially if you're the type who is curious about food and its history.

While ordering a la carte is possible, I highly suggest that you pick the Chihana course meals to get the full experience when in Chihana. They may be a little pricey but trust me, it is worth every penny you spend! The menu will give you an insight of five hundred years of tradition packed into beautifully prepared dishes that are just divinely delicious. Here are some of the dishes that poignantly pierced my soul and made me ask myself "Why have I waited so long to eat here??"

Bonito sashimi cured with pear and citrus fruits: this is one of those dishes that the chef has played with international flavors, but have kept the traditional ways of preparing the dish in a Japanese manner. The pears lend a citrusy and sweet taste that perfectly jives with the taste of the fresh sashimi and bonito flakes.

Vegetables and white fish with miso sauce: this is one of my favorites, where the simple ingredients provide such complex flavors that you will not have imagined. The fish totally compliments the squash and turnips, while the miso sauce finishes the perfect trifecta with a lovely umami taste.

Lastly, the rice course: simple, but exceptionally delicious. Then again, as expected from a 3-Michelin Star restaurant. The Japanese steamed rice is served with mushrooms, pickled vegetables, and sliced shiso, and it is a mindblowingly good combination!

If you are in Kyoto or the vicinity, then I strongly urge you to plan and make time for this deeply culturally rooted restaurant that showcases the traditional dishes of the old Japan. Trust me, it's a uniquely Kyoto experience you wouldn't want to miss.

Chihana is located at 584-13-2 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0074, Japan
Phone: +81 75-561-2741
Price Range: ¥18,000 ~ ¥35,000. Credit cards accepted: VISA, MASTER

Hafuu

Hafuu has a perfect dining location—away form the busy streets of Kyoto, and is located in a quiet and serene residential area. It is a traditional Japanese restaurant, but done in a modern style, and results in a great, unique atmosphere. What makes it unique? Hafuu is small and intimate, and can only seat around 36 people. The restaurant's friendly and cheerful vibe encourages diners to get to know one another.

TIP: Personally, I think the best seat in Hafuu is in the bar counter where you get to see the chefs preparing the food and they would chat with you. Not only will you get served freshly-cooked food, but you'll leave with an amazing amount of information about Japanese food.

Hafuu serves some of the best beef in Japan. If you find yourself in Hafuu by lunch time, I suggest you get the Wagyu Siriloin Steak set meal that comes with a salad, rice, miso soup and your choice of coffee or tea. The Hamburger Steak is also a must try, and also comes with the aforementioned sidings.

At dinner time, Hafuu's menu changes, and I think it's the best time to go because you never know what's waiting for you. Although a little more expensive than their lunch sets, the dinner set meals are still a bang for your buck with the quality and taste of the food.

I highly recommend to get the Original Dinner Course, which consists of lightly roasted beef for your appetizer: "grilled thinly sliced brisket with salt-based sauce on top", a soup of the day (or should I say night), and for your main course a 200g Wagyu Sirloin Steak or a 180g Wagyu Fillet Steak. And of course, it comes with salad, a choice of rice or bread, and capped off with dessert, and coffee or tea.

Some of Hafuu's a la carte dishes that you might want to try are the "Wagyu Fillet Steak with Teriyaki Sauce", the super flavorful "Stewed Beef" and lastly, the lovely "Seafood Gratin". Hafuu also offers a great sake and wine list that will surely make a great pairing to your meal.

Hafuu is located at 471-1 Sasaya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-city (located on Fuyacho-street, and
Ebisugawa-street to the north)
Phone: 075-257-1581
Business hours:
Lunch: 11:30am - 1:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm - 9:30pm
Closed every Wednesday
Price Range: ¥1,100 ~ ¥12,000

Ren

Ren specialty is their Chuka Soba, a magnificent-looking bowl of chewy al dente noodles bathed in a soy sauce based meat broth that, for some reason, tastes "more like seafood" rather than meat. Perhaps it is because of the secret ingredient in the soup—slivers of yuzu fruit skins. In any case, the citrusy flavor stops the soup from becoming too tiresome on the tongue, and makes it refreshing instead. This beautiful dish is then topped with a large, juicy slice of chashu pork, topped with sliced onions and bamboo shoots.

Ren is located at 27-18, Fukakusa Ichinotsubocho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Phone: 075-605-4330
Hours:
Wednesdays to Mondays, 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 11pm
Closed on Tuesdays
Price Range: 1000-1500 yen. Cash only

Hatakaku

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Hatakaku is a restaurant that has been in Kyoto for more than a hundred years. There is no menu in Hatakaku because they only have one dish which the founder of Hatakaku invented: the dish that is called Botan Nambe, which literally translates to "Wild Boar Hotpot."

The Botan Nambe is a dish that is served in rural mountainous areas of Japan, and this dish and its varying recipes have been passed down from the ancient times to present times. Hatakaku strives to recreate this experience for its diners. What is great about having Botan Nambe here in Hatakaku is your meal will be steeped in culture and tradition. From the private rooms that are traditionally decorated, you will find yourself seated in the center of the room, eating on tatami mat floor which is a traditional Japanese way called irori.

The dish speaks for itself—the thinly sliced wild boar is perfectly arranged in the center of the pot and the fat of the boar is shaped in a flower. The carefully arranged vegetables are put in the stock— which is made of white miso and dashi mixed together and gives a subtle yet complex flavors. After the meat and the vegetables are all cooked, and the flavors are all beautifully mixed together, it's now time to eat!

After enjoying this truly delightful dish, you will be given a choice if you want to add rice into the stock and whatever remains inside the hotpot. The flavorful result is called zosui rice soup, another Janese favorite.

The Botan Nabe is only served from November to March, and if you are here in Kyoto at that particular time, I highly suggest that you battle the cold and make your way to Hatakaku to enjoy this special Japanese dish. So come on and take a bite out of history and culture!

Hatakaku is located at 430 Uchikamae-cho, Nishi-iru, Goryomae Karasuma-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075-441-0610
Hours: 12pm – 9:30pm
Closed on Mondays
Price Range: ¥10,000 ~ ¥15,000

Kagizen

If you want to have a traditional Japanese tearoom experience, Kagizen is one of the best places to go to in Kyoto. This traditional tearoom has been operating in Kyoto for more than 300 years, serving sweet delicacies and performing tea ceremonies for generations. Kagizen was founded on 1726 back in the Edo period.

Located in the Gion district of Kyoto, Kagizen is a stand out among other shops because they serve Wagashi. Wagashi is traditional Japanese sweets—made of mochi, bean paste and fruits—that is most commonly served with tea.

Some of the other best sellers of Kagizen are Kuzuriki—green tea paired with fresh Japanese cake, and Warabi Mochi.

There are also seasonal delicacies which are to die for, sakura or cherry blossom sweets during springtime, or winter sweets such as oshiroku (red bean soup), and Kibimochi-zenzai (millet rice cake). Make sure to try them if you're visiting during a particular season! Kagizen also sells all sorts of confectionery sweets which will bring anyone with a sweet tooth straight to heaven!

When in Kyoto, it is a definite must to experience a traditional tearoom ceremony. It is an interesting experience, with the tea prepared and served according to traditional ways. The tea is surprisingly more flavorful and is thicker in consistency compared to regular teas. Paired with such delicately prepared sweets, Kagizen is a gem in the bustling street of Gion, and is a shop that you must not miss.

Kagizen is located at Kazigen, 264 Gionmachikitagawa Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan,
Phone: +81 75 525 1818
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am - 6pm
Closed on Mondays

Ramen Itsuwa

Ramen is a dish that has originated from China, and unlike in Tokyo, the Chinese-style ramen—also known as traditional style ramen—is actually more popular in Kyoto. This probably has to do with Kyoto being Japan's historical capital, and the Chinese influence in the city due to the trading it has done with China.

Ramen Itsuwa's menu is quite simple: there are only three items that you can order on the ramen vending machine: the original traditional style ramen, double soup ramen (the broth is a mix of soy sauce and tonkotsu), and the rather smoky yakimiso ramen (soup features a grilled miso base).

If you get here and find it packed, don't be daunted. The line actually moves fast, with people ordering from the vending machine, entering and slurping down the bowl, then leaving. Talk about fast food—literally!

Ramen Itsuwa is located at Hitosujime Kado Shijo Nawate Agaru Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Phone: 075-551-5027
Price Range: 1000 - 1500yen
Hours:
Mondays to Thursdays, 6:30pm to 3am
Fridays and Saturdays, 6:30pm to 4am
Closed on Sundays and holidays

Sumibi-Torito

Yakitori is one of the most loved dishes in Japan, and Sumibi-Torito is one of the best yakitori spots in Kyoto. The sole reason why Sumibi-Torito is the best of the best in Kyoto is the owner would go up the mountains each week personally to buy the freshest chickens available. The owner highly believes that quality is the key, and it shows in his dishes.

The restaurant features a modern Zen design that provides a relaxing vibe. A fair warning: Sumibi-Torito gets a little crowded, especially during the later parts of the evening, so either pop in for an early dinner, or call ahead of time to reserve yourself a table or a spot by the counter.

The great thing about this spot is that they use almost all of the parts of the chicken, and they do so magnificently. I suggest you unleash your adventurous side here at Sumibi-Torito, and friendly chefs for recommendations or, when in Rome, eat what the locals eat!

Now on to the food: one great starter is the chicken bits with ponzu sauce, and the chicken neck with pink peppercorns. The chicken liver is another dish that you must not miss—fragrant, bursting with flavor, and a great creamy texture. The neck with skin yakitori is also a must try, an interesting deviation from the typical chicken yakitori. The chicken thigh with onions is another great dish that will surely wake up your taste buds and make them yearn for more!

For the main dishes, I suggest you get the grilled onigiri or rice balls. It's so simple—sticky rice balls, lightly brushed with soy, grilled until golden brown, but it is one of the best rice dishes I have ever had! Don't miss the tsukune, which is minced chicken that is grilled to perfection, then served with a chicken egg yolk on the side. You break the egg yolk, and use that to dip the chicken in before eating it. The yolk lends a richness to the meat, and it is wonderful. And of course, who could forget the Tebasaki, or grilled chicken wings? It's a favorite among Japanese, especially when throwing back a few cups of sake or bottles of beer.

And we've saved the best for last: karage (Japanese fried chicken)! Sumibi-Torito is known to make some of the best karage in the country. For an out-of-this-world experience, one simply must eat it with the zosui, which is rice cooked with chicken stock and deliciously fresh eggs. It is like a soupy, flavorful porridge, which goes really well with the crunchy texture of the chicken.

Pair all these yummy dishes with sake or beer, which Sumibi-Torito has an extensive menu of. You'll surely have an extraordinary experience here—so extraordinary that visiting Sumibi-Torito should be a ritual for those who come visit Kyoto.

Sumibi-Torito is located at Sumibi-Torito, 1F Kamihara Building, 9-5 Higashimaruta-cho, Kawabata-higashi-iru, Marutamachi-dori, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Phone: +81 752 4144
Hours:
Mondays to Sundays, 5pm to midnight

Yoshikawa Tempura Inn

Yoshikawa Tempura Inn is one of the best places to have kaiseki tempura in Kyoto. The restaurant itself is built in a Japanese traditional style called sukiya-zukuri, which translates to "pursuit of elegance" in English. The interior of the Yoshikawa Tempura Inn is simply amazing, filled with elegant artworks and furniture. You will never have seen more elegant wooden tables, and it will be hard to find the cushy futons that you'll sit in nowadays. Upon stepping inside the beautifully decorated and preserved Yoshikawa Tempura Inn, your first reaction would be as if you have went back in time, where the house was still brand new, and Kyoto was still the capital of Japan.

TIP: You may opt to stay at the Yoshikawa Tempura Inn as well. The rooms are also decorated according to the period, and staying here proves a delightful and interesting experience.

The dishes in Yoshikawa Tempura Inn are prepared with the utmost skill and the quality of the ingredients are second to none. Actually, the dishes look like edible artworks that are beautifully arranged. Definitely a treat for your eyes! There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from, but
one of the best sellers in Yoshikawa Tempura Inn is the Tempura Kakiage O-chazuke. The difference of Tempura Kakiage O-chazuke to a regular tempura is that every vegetable is thinly sliced—paper-thin, actually—then battered and perfectly fried. And Yoshikawa Tempura Inn has definitely perfected the way of frying tempura. These fried delights simply melts in your mouth, and there is none of that oily taste found in lesser quality tempura shops. The result? Light and crispy goodness!

The Tempura Kakiage O-chazuke comes with fresh grated wasabi on the side and pickled vegetables.

The O-chazuke is a dish that is eaten with tea. No, not PAIRED with tea, but literally eaten with tea. The beverage is poured into the bowl with the rice and the tempura. Yes, it may seem strange, but the Kakiage complements the rice and tea mixture (tea porridge, anyone?) beautifully. Slurp away!

Make sure to drop by this amazing restaurant, and have a slice of history and culture along with the excellent food they serve.

Yoshikawa Tempura Inn is located at Nakagyo-ku Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture Tomikoji through Oike down Matsushita -cho 135, 604-8093, Japan
Phone: +81 75-221-5544

Ippudo Ramen

Ippudo Ramen is one of the best ramen spots in Kyoto, and possibly one of the best around the world. Ippudo Ramen originally came from Fukuoka Hakata in 1985 in, and it became world famous due to its unique meat-based broth which people all around the world went crazy for. Ippudo Ramen has certainly made this simple dish of broth and perfectly cooked noodles with various meats and vegetables into a global phenomenon. Due to its popularity and the high demand all over the world, Ippudo Ramen has expanded to New York, Sydney, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore.

One of Ippudo Ramen's bestsellers is the Karake Men, which is a special ramen dish that usually comes with chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, onions, minced pork and topped with cabbage and scallions, then finished off with a hot and spicy broth.

In my opinion, there's always a reason to drop by Ippudo Ramen for a steaming bowl of hot ramen, wherever you may be in the world.The owner puts soul to every dish he makes, and that resulted in a simple restaurant growing into a world class restaurant which brings joy to every person.

Ippudo Ramen is located atIn, 653-1 Nakagyo-ku Babtouyacho, Kyoto, Japan,
Phone: +81 75 213 8800

Mamezen Soba

Mamezen Soba is considered a "Kyoto culinary treasure" because of a very unique dish: its namesake ramen with soymilk broth! Before you turn your nose up at it, this is actually a surprisingly delicious dish, and this writer isn't even a fan of soymilk!

Mamezen is created by Chef Minoru Yonegawa, whose family owns a yudofu restaurant (yudofu is tofu hotpot) called Toka. Toka's hotpot features a rich, creamy broth made out of soymilk, and this is where Yonegawa got the idea of the soymilk ramen.

Onto the soymilk ramen: the soup is rich and flavorful, a katsuo (bonito) dashi broth with soymilk and then simmered until thick and silky. The fish lends a smoky flavor, which is beautifully enhanced by the creaminess of the soymilk. The longer it is simmered, the more the soup thickens up. You can opt for a lighter soup or a thicker soup. The egg noodles are very thin, similar to angel hair pasta. The delicate noodles are a great partner to this uniquely wonderful broth. The dish is then topped with scallions, shiitake mushrooms, umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), and—when in season during the winter and spring months—nanohana (rape blossom).

For vegetarians, the dashi broth can be made without the bonito fish.

Another must-try here at Mamezen Soba is the Donburi: this rice bowl features fish, pork, and vegetables served over fragrant rice. Several strips of namayuba (soybean skin) are placed on top for extra texture, then a thick ankake sauce is poured over it. The ankake sauce is made of—you guessed it—soymilk, dashi and thickened with starch. Lastly, the rice bowl is topped with ground fresh ginger.

If you want to try both, order the omakase set, which features a bowl of the soymilk ramen along with a yuba donburi rice bowl.

Mamezen Soba is located at Higashi Takagi-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto.
Telephone: 075-703-5731
Price Range: 1,000-1,500 yen

Hours:
Lunch: 11:30am - 3pm (2:30 pm last order)
Dinner: 7:30pm - 11pm (10:30 pm last order)
Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and some other days. The restaurant encourages to call first, in case they're closed.

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