Figuring out where to eat in Kyoto offers a glimpse into the immense cultural heritage of Japan’s former capital. With close attention paid to giving you the finest ingredients and service, the best restaurants in Kyoto offer everything from high-end kaiseki cuisine to ramen, tempura and trendy cocktail bars. Read on for 10 of the best Kyoto restaurants, from the geisha district of Gion to the home of the Imperial Palace, Kamigyo.
Although found among the international chain restaurants and coffee shops of Gion, Kagizen offers a traditional Japanese tearoom experience. It stands out especially for its delicate wagashi, the traditional Japanese sweets usually served with tea, and its incredible mochi, rice cakes filled with red or white bean paste. The tea, prepared according to traditional recipes, is uniquely flavourful and thick. This delightful tearoom is a favourite among Kyoto-ites for the delicious pastries and tea as well as for the tranquil atmosphere that offers repose from Gion’s bustling activity. For a true Japanese tea experience, Kagizen is definitely not to be missed.
For a vegan restaurant in Kyoto, look no further than Ain Soph Journey. Opened in 2018, it has long-standing sister stores around Japan, and serves vegan food that is accessible to even the most sceptical meat-lovers. Featuring mouthwatering vegan-beef and -chicken burgers, fluffy pancakes topped with fresh fruit, and fusion food like taco rice, there’s sure to be something for everyone. The old-fashioned space can cater to large groups and even wedding parties.
Yakitori is one of the many staple dishes of traditional Japanese cuisine. Due to the simplicity of this dish, which is basically a type of skewered chicken, the restaurants that serve it are, more often than not, very basic (and very smoky). With its stylish decor, Sumibi Torito offers a different type of experience, transforming this traditional dish into an haute-cuisine delicacy. The selection of the meats is meticulous, as the owner of the restaurant makes weekly visits to a poultry farm in the nearby mountainous area in order to choose the very best chicken. But the secret to the delicious yakitori lies in the cooking method. The restaurant has a beautiful grill and each dish is cooked on a charcoal fire to seal in the juices and preserve the flavour.