Recommendations for Kyoto
I just wrapped up a two week trip in Japan with about a week spent in Kyoto. I spent a long time combing these boards before leaving, so I thought it was worth adding the places that we enjoyed.
We had a truely delicious experience in Kyoto and I was very pleased to discover that many of our favorite meals didn't actually cost much at all. I used a rating system for all of the restaurants 1-4 stars with 2.5 being an average meal. It was just two of us traveling, so what we sampled at each place was limited. Here were our impressions:
Omen - Serves Omen set (udon noodles) and is an absolutely delicious lunch. The dishes are served beautifully, with the udon, broth and vegetables each presented separately. Located near the Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) behind to the bus parking lot for the temple. This place gets quite busy and is well written up, but I still think it was worth it. 3.5 stars.
Ganko - A relatively inexpensive way to try kaiseki (set menu), but the food is nothing to write home about. There are several branches in the city. I think it is worth it to keeping searching... 2 stars.
Mishima Tei - Sukiyaki restaurant on Sanjo-dori and Teramachi-dori. This is supposedly a classic Kyoto restaurant with its highly polished dark wooden floors and very attentive service. The woman who cooked our sukiyaki stayed with us at the table throughout our meal. The price for sukiyaki is quite high and I am not convinced this is the best place in town. Nevertheless, it is worth having at some point on a visit to Japan. 2.5 stars.
Waraji tei - The best homestyle cooking restaurant we found in Kyoto (based on several creditable recommendations) The counter is filled with about 20 different dishes when you enter. You can select from these dishes or get one of the many off the menu options. My husband discovered here, that he had a real passion for fish heads. This restaurant is out of the way which makes it all the more of an adventure. No English is spoken but the food is fabulous. To make reservations, have a Japanese speaker call 075 801 9685. 3.5 stars.
Ippo(o)-do(o) tea - A very snazzy place to have formal Japanese tea service in a very modern setting. Depending on the tea you select, they will provide you step-by-step instructions on how to properly prepare the tea. It has a little air of intimidation because there is so much ritual behind it, but it is still an interesting experience. Nijo-kita Teramachi. 2.5 stars.
Takasebune - A tempura restaurant only in a tiny little restaurant with delicious tempura. 188 Sendo-cho Shijo-sagaru on the little street just on the east side of the Hankyu department store. 3 stars.
Small place across the street from Hirota Guesthouse on Nijo-dori with a sign that says "Seafood" in English - Serves series of small dishes specializing in seafood. A nice dinner out without costing an arm and a leg. The grilled fish was particularly delicious. 3 stars.
Yorum - Sake bar on Nijo dori about 4 blocks west of Hirota's on the south side of the street. Yorum has extensive sake knowledge and speak English fluently (he's Israeli). If you like sake, this is definitely worth the trip. (And even if you don't he will introduce you to one that will make you like it!) During the daytime, the space is used by another man, that makes delicious soba. 3 stars.
Tamura Restaurant (Gion) - A tiny place with a delicious home cooked style food. 2.5 stars. This evening was most memorable because we were there for a few hours eating and drinking and in the end we walked out having spent about $25 total.
Apparently, Mishima-tei is considered one of the best (if not the best) places for sukiyaki in Kyoto. Maybe you didn't care for Kansai style sukiyaki as opposed to Kanto style? Anyway, it seems like a destination spot with its 140 year history.
Here's their website: http://www.mishima-tei.co.jp/
Here's a blog/rating site with more photos: http://r.tabelog.com/kyoto/rstdtl/260...
Waraji-tei seems like a good find. It's looks like a typical obanzai ryori place, which is a Kyoto specialty.
Here's a site with some info and photos: http://www.geocities.jp/yonehara9119/...
i just got back from kyoto myself. i would recommend everyone to stay at hotel okura. very good location & service. here are 2 excellent restaurants. expect to pay $8,000 yen pp w/o alcohol.
the special selection meat is far superior than whats pictured on their website
I'm happy to report Waraji-Tei is still a very good place to experience Obanzai Kyoto-style home cooking. It's definitely an adventure as it's not near most hotels. Our hotel made the reservation. They also printed a map from some Japanese website to present to the taxi driver. Waraji-Tei warned our hotel clerk on the phone that they did not speak English. I said no problem because we eat everything and I knew we could just point at bowls on the counter.
The taxi will drive through a neighborhood and upon arrival the outside looks like a corner tavern in an American city. Well, it is a tavern. A tavern that serves Kyoto home-cooking. It's also 1/2 mile from the Nishiojioike subway station.
We took four seats at the counter so we could point and eat. Everyone was extremely nice. In fact, that night there was an outgoing young man who spoke decent English at the counter. We proceeded to select various fish, meat and vegetables. The fish really stood out and Japanese vegetables are always so fresh and flavorful. Now you have to realize everything is served room temperature. We didn't order anything from the menu.
The whole affair was 8800 yen for four people with the men drinking a couple beers and the ladies drinking plum wine. It's is very hard to drink and eat this quality of food in Kyoto for this price if you're not eating noodles. At the end, the staff called us a taxi. FYI, it's CASH only and please don't expect someone to speak perfect English and explain every item in detail.