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Feb 20, 2009 01:19 PM

Osaka and Kyoto

We'll be visiting Osaka & Kyoto in early April and interested in recommendations of best places to eat that is representative of the food in the respective local areas. We're looking at something mid-priced, no more than about $200 US. And we're open to all types - kaiseki, sushi, etc.

Someone one this board mentioned Kikunoi in Kyoto. Is this good? One issue is we do not speak Japanese, so not sure how the reservation can be made or how to order.

Thank you in advance.

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  1. If you do some searches on the board, this topic has come up numerous times. You're from Toronto, right? Perhaps I could help you out a bit over email in addition to what you find here?

    13 Replies
    1. re: tjr

      Not sure how you can send private messages through this board. Yes, I'm from the Toronto.

      I did search the board but didn't find any suggestions to my liking, in particular, well under $200 per person. In light of the current economy, good QPR local food is our goal. We intend to talk to locals for suggestions when we're there but thought maybe someone on this board may have suggestions.

      1. re: syoung

        If you can't find something to your liking in Japan for under $200 US a person, you're either (a) going about it all wrong, or (b) just impossible to satisfy.

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          Sorry, what I meant to say in a rather quick & dirty way was we already searched the board, added to our to try list of those that we liked and discarded those we did not. In other words, we already searched this board and looking for more suggestions with a $200/person constraint for dinner.

          Nevertheless, if you have nothing constructive to add, it would be appreciated if you would just ignore the thread rather than post a patronizing comment.

          1. re: syoung

            If you've already gone through some of the suggestions given in previous posts, maybe you could post what you're *not* interested in (as well as the places you are interested in), so no one recommends them again. It's difficult to know what to suggest when you say you're open to anything, but then say you've discarded a number of other suggestions already.

            If we at least know the places you are already interested in, or not interested in, we can give more specific responses.

            1. re: syoung

              What prasantrin said. Good luck with the attitude, should be a door opener for you here in Japan.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                Uncle Yabai, respectfully, what did I do to offend you? I'm not sure who's the one with the attitude. I asked for more suggestions and your response was (and I paraphrase) you're either doing it wrong or your're impossible to satisfy. Hopefully not everyone in Japan is as unwelcoming and good luck with that attitude as well.

                1. re: syoung

                  More a visceral reaction to your "bite the hand that feeds you" (excuse the pun) approach for help. To your question, I don't know much about Osaka, but the Nenohi is very good. Kyoto, lots of places, much of it very secret and hidden. I've been to Kikunoi, and I wasn't that impressed, don't know, it just didn't do it for me. I prefer Hyotei, but their dinner prices may be above your limit. Another great place is Aunbou, run by a former Buddhist monk. Very reasonable prices and very good food. If you want a good tofu lunch, can't go wrong with Okutan, there are two of them. And for a real old-style experience, there is Hiranoya up in the boonies in Sagano. Don't know if they will be open already in April, but the over-river-water somen noodle dinner at Sagenta in Kurama is pretty memorable.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    ...and if you do not speak Japanese you will have trouble at most of those places.

                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                      The Okutan has an English menu, but you really don't need it, since they only serve one thing, one way, no substitutions or nothin. As for speaking Japanese, you're SOL pretty much anywhere in Kyoto except your hotel (and not all hotels...) and the kinds of rancid places that the Lonely Planet guide writes about.

                      Now, if you are willing to live a little, the field of view widens considerably, even if you will be in a state of bewilderment throughout your meal. It enhances the experience sometimes.

          2. re: syoung

            You really have to go out of your way to spend that much in Osaka. Here are a few suggestions in that city:

            Mogami (kushikatsu, an Osaka specialty):

            Maimon (premium grilled seafood and chicken):


            Nenohi (run by a sake brewery):

            En (a very good upscale izakaya):

            1. re: Robb S

              Ooh I love Nenohi. It is run by the Morita sake brewery, of Sony fame.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                I am in Japan for two weeks and struggling to find the right places to eat (I don'r read or speak Japanese). Thanks to those who suggested Nenohi, totally great dinner. I spent 8400, and drank a lot of sake from the expensive side of the list, and had some really good stewed pork and grilled chicken thigh marinated in miso. Yum. I would go back for sure. This was some good food. Plus the waiter was super cute, as were a number in the kitchen.

              2. re: Robb S

                Thanks for the suggestions Robb S, this is exactly what we're looking for, local specialties beyond the touristy places. We'll definitely put them on the to try list.

          3. Yes, Kikunoi is very good. The menu is all prix-fixe, so you just need to choose a price level when you make the reservation. Ask your hotel to make the arrangements. (They have two branches in Kyoto, and the "downtown" branch, Roan Kikunoi, is less expensive but still quite good.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robb S

              Thanks again Robb. Good thing to know that you need to choose a price level at the time of making the reservation.