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Kichisen vs. Hyo-tei vs. Nakamura: Need To Choose Between These Three Kyoto Kaiseki Spots

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Hey folks,

We've locked down all but one of our meals for our upcoming trip through Tokyo, Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. All that's left is to figure out which three-star kaiseki restaurant we want to go to in Kyoto.

The problem is that we are going at the height of cherry-blossom season. So, on the night we have set aside for this particular meal, Kikunoi, Mizai and Chihana are all fully booked (Kitcho is a bit too expensive for our taste).

Kichisen, Hyo-tei and Nakamura all still have openings as of now. As between these three restaurants only, which one would you choose and why?

Thanks very much!

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  1. And Hyotei is not too expensive for your taste?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Uncle Yabai

      We're trying to limit ourselves to ¥30,000 a head for this dinner without getting one of the lower priced menus offered by the restaurant (which would presumably be less reflective of what the restaurant is capable of).

      The English translation of Hyo-tei's website that I'm using appears to offer only a ¥27,000 dinner, despite the Michelin guide saying that they offer a large range of menus from ¥23,000 to ¥45,000. Kichisen's website says that they offer menus ranging from ¥14,000 to ¥25,000 and Nakamura ranges from ¥21,000 to ¥26,000.

      The least expensive dinner menu at Kitcho is ¥35,000, and even that would seem to me to run the risk of not adequately reflecting what the restaurant is capable of given the fact that it pales in comparison to their high-end ¥85,000 menu.

      So yes, Kitcho is out of our range given what we are looking to spend and our other parameters.

      1. re: stephenkyr

        Hyotei dinners *start* at ¥27,000, so your limitation also applies to Hyotei. I think Hyotei is very good, but you can do even better, value for money, to just get their lunch box at the annex. That's ¥5,000 and worth every Yen.

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          That's very good to know - maybe we will do that for lunch on the day we are visiting Nanzen-ji. And the translation of Hyo-tei's page must have left a lot wanting.

          In terms of a big blowout formal kaiseki dinner for at or under the ¥30,000 mark, what would you recommend, other than those ones that I mentioned as being booked? I'm leaning most towards Kichisen.

          1. re: stephenkyr

            They don't call it "Lost in Translation" for nothing. I have never been to Kichisen or Nakamura, so can't comment on which one would be preferred. I not a big fan of ultra-expensive kaiseki, it tends to disappoint the heightened expectations.

            I'd much rather shoot for something less "exalted" but which carries a level of artistry and care even better than the "top" kaiseki. Something like Ryozanpaku, Sojiki Nakahigashi, Jiki Miyazawa, or Mitsuyasu.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              I will look into all four of these - thanks much!