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Jun 7, 2012 07:42 AM

Kyoto solo?

Does anyone have recommendations for a woman dining alone in Kyoto? I'm going to be there for a few weeks and am looking for some good ideas. I speak fluent Japanese, and I've lived in Japan and been to Kyoto many times, but I never know where to eat. Oddly, I have no trouble in Tokyo, but the restaurant culture there is very different.

I'm looking for cheap, mid-priced and expensive places -- anything but the conbini!

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  1. According to the Michelin Guide, Hokkoriya was founded by a proprietress who was interested in opening a place where women would feel equally welcome dining alone. One star, obanzai, dinner only, a la carte 3,500-5,000. Closed mid June. When are you going?

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Cookbook Addict

      Great tip - thanks! I'll be there mid June through early July -- maybe I can catch it.

    2. Nothing specific, but anywhere that's located in a hotel, department store or shopping mall should be comfortable, and that includes many nice mid- and upper-level restaurants in places like Isetan. Other than that, most restaurants with a counter are set up for solo diners.

      1. I lived in Kyoto for two years and after moving elsewhere in Japan, visited often. The only places I wouldn't consider dining alone were izakayas, yakiniku restaurants, and similar places where dishes were meant to be shared (Spoon, for example). I think maybe some kaiseki places are probably less solo-diner friendly (and perhaps some high-end European places), but I ate at places like Ten-you, Yoshikawa, O-men, Katsukura, various French, Italian, Indian, Thai places, etc. etc.

        I'm also female, btw, and if I ever felt a tiny bit ill-at-ease at a restaurant, it wasn't because of my gender.

        1. Okariba is a must-try but you must be a very adventurous eater to get the most out of the experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RichardBreadcrumb

            Do you usually go there solo? To me Okariba is the kind of place better experienced with a dining partner (even better with a large group), but ymmv and all that. (kind of like dim sum--you could certainly go alone, but you wouldn't be able to get very many dishes, and it wouldn't be as much fun).

          2. I like sitting at the counter if I'm alone.

            Last time I was solo in Kyoto, I ate at the counter at "Kashin."
            There's a lot of Kyoto specialties, like tofu and kyo-yasai (done as "teppai" [nuta] and as takiawase), to jidori and hamo.

            It's a family affair, with a father doing the sashimi and the grill, a daughter doing the vegetables and a mother pouring the sake. The daughter, Keiko-san, speaks English, but your Japanese ability will go a long way in conversing with the other solo diners at the counter.

            Check out some photos here:

            12 Higashikujo Nishisannocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi
            (One block south of Avanti, below Kyoto Station