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Kyoto Recommendations?

ponocat Feb 5, 2008 09:46 AM

I am going to Kyoto in May for 3 days and am looking for suggestions for great places to eat (cost not an issue). DG14973 wrote in a chowhound thread that Hyotei and Kinmata Ryokan are great and am thinking of trying one or both. Any further suggestions would be most appreciated.

Most of the threads mix Kyoto with Osaka and/or Tokyo, so it is a bit hard to research what past suggestions chowhounders have made. So, if someone has made suggestions in the past and can point to them, that'd be good too.

I have seen references on this site to how Kyoto tempura differs from Tokyo's. Can anyone elaborate?


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  1. skylineR33 RE: ponocat Feb 5, 2008 12:22 PM

    Hi ponocat, saw you in the other post. I recommend Kikunoi for kaiseki, I did not have a single course that is disappointed there, very tasty food with beautiful and innovative preparation. Its Tokyo branch just got 2 michelin stars. But the main branch is at Kyoto !

    6 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33
      ponocat RE: skylineR33 Feb 5, 2008 01:55 PM

      Thanks for both responses!

      1. re: skylineR33
        exilekiss RE: skylineR33 Mar 21, 2008 11:11 PM

        Hi skylineR33,

        Do you have Kikunoi's contact info in Kyoto?

        1. re: exilekiss
          skylineR33 RE: exilekiss Mar 22, 2008 08:19 AM

          I don't have it with me now, but a quick search on Google will do, sorry.

        2. re: skylineR33
          Wandering Foodie RE: skylineR33 Apr 6, 2008 08:50 PM

          Not wanting to offend, what would the dress code be for a place like Kikunoi? Thanks.

          1. re: Wandering Foodie
            skylineR33 RE: Wandering Foodie Apr 7, 2008 06:37 AM

            Eventhough I think there is no official dress code, I would suggest smart elegant with something like long pant and button down shirt will be good. This is what I do and see what most people dress there. Hope this helps !

            1. re: skylineR33
              Wandering Foodie RE: skylineR33 Apr 11, 2008 09:12 PM

              Cool, thanks very much.

        3. i
          isabelle94 RE: ponocat Apr 4, 2008 05:46 AM

          I just got back from Kyoto and food was generally very good. Most of the places we went to did not have English menus and I don't even know the names of them. Feel adventurous and try a place that looks nice (and is full of people!)

          One restaurant that was definitely worth going to was Spoon. We stumbled across it one evening. They had only a very limited English menu so we asked the waitress for omakase. She was very sweet and helpful and asked us how many courses we wanted and started bringing out the food. We sat at the bar which was great because we got a chance to have chat (albeit slightly hampered by language barriers!) with the chef who was assembling stuff in front of us. We had sashimi, a lovely green salad with yuba, tempura, broiled chicken and rice cooked with mushrooms and scallops. We washed it all down with beer and between the two of us, it came to l less than £30 (¥5300). This place was definitely a find.

          Here's their website:

          1 Reply
          1. re: isabelle94
            ponocat RE: isabelle94 Apr 4, 2008 07:53 PM

            Thanks for the tip, isabelle94. I will add it to my list for the trip.

          2. Robb S RE: ponocat Apr 5, 2008 04:24 PM

            In answer to your question about tempura in Kyoto vs Tokyo, I don't think there's much major difference between those cities. One poster in another topic claimed that Kyoto tempura is far superior to Tokyo's (an opinion that seemed to be based on exactly one meal in an inexpensive tempura shop in Shinjuku), but I would disagree. Tokyo is known for its good seafood (compared to Kyoto, which is landlocked), and has many highly regarded tempura shops at every price level.

            If you're interested in doing a high-level comparison though, you might be interested in trying Tenyu, near Kyoto City Hall, vs. the main branch of Ten-Ichi in Ginza. [And please report back!]

            5 Replies
            1. re: Robb S
              ponocat RE: Robb S Apr 5, 2008 07:07 PM

              Interesting! Your suggestion about doing a comparison is just the sort of challenge I like—a yummy one. I definitely will report back on everything. Counting the days now til May...

              1. re: ponocat
                Yukari RE: ponocat Apr 18, 2008 06:17 PM

                Three I would like to recommend are:

                Tankuma Kitamise with chef Kurisu. It is a small kappo restaurant, you sit at the counter and he prepares the food right in front of you.

                Izuu for sabazushi with chef Sasaki in Gion.

                Seiwaso with chef Takenaka. A great ryokan and you can have lunch or dinner there.


                Oh, if money is not a concern, then go to Gion Maruyama.

                1. re: Yukari
                  prasantrin RE: Yukari Apr 19, 2008 12:39 AM

                  Is Tankuma Kitamise the one at Tokyu Hotel? There's also a Tankuma at Rihga Royal.

                  1. re: prasantrin
                    Yukari RE: prasantrin Apr 19, 2008 09:43 AM

                    The main shop, where chef Kurisu is at is:

                    Kyoto-fu, Kawaramachi, Shijo-agaru
                    Phone: 075-221-6990

                    Best to call ahead and make a reservation at the counter. I had a very nice lunch and think it ran about 6,000 or 7,000 JPY.

                    He does have many shops around the country, most recently in Tokyo station's Daimaru restaurant floor.

                    1. re: Yukari
                      prasantrin RE: Yukari Apr 19, 2008 03:45 PM

                      Found it! Thanks! It will go on my list (which is already too long...).

                      For anyone interested, the website is http://www.tankumakita.jp/ (Japanese only).

            2. t
              timwild RE: ponocat Apr 21, 2008 04:51 AM

              I just got back from there - didn't have a bad meal the whole time, and `i ate a LOT......For a good izakaya and a break from the formality, try Totoro, next to the immigration office, about two blocks west of the Imperial Palace. You'll need to book, I think. The chicken meatball in particular was spectacular - a lightly seasoned minced chicken ball, grilled on a stick and served with a raw egg yolk for dipping - sublime.

              1. w
                Wandering Foodie RE: ponocat Apr 22, 2008 05:47 AM

                I've been in Kyoto for the last 4 days and I've gotta agree that Kikunoi and Spoon were both amazing. Thanks for the great tips! Now off to Osaka.

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