Kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri is a traditional Japanese dining experience that involves multiple courses of delicious food in order to create the perfect meal. This sophisticated haute cuisine is known for its meticulous preparation, fresh seasonal ingredients and beautiful presentation. With many places to try it – from top-class restaurants to traditional Ryokan inns – Kyoto is famous for its kaiseki. Here is a list of some of the best restaurants for kaiseki in Japan’s former Imperial capital. Bon Appétit!
Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama
Restaurant, Japanese, Asian, $$$
Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama is a top class restaurant in the Arashiyama district of western Kyoto famous for its kaiseki. For over-the-top, spare-no-expense kaiseki, this is the place to go if money is no object. Amongst the exquisite scenery of Arashiyama, excellent fresh seasonal food is served in an elegant atmosphere.
Gion Karyo is a good affordable restaurant which will gently ease you into the world of Kyoto kaiseki. Situated in the historic geisha and entertainment district of Gion, it is set in an atmospheric old Kyoto house which has an authentic charm. The restaurant offers traditional kaiseki with English menus and there are English speaking staff available.
Minoko is a 100 year old Kyo-ryori (Kyoto cuisine – the umbrella term for kaiseki) restaurant in Gion that specialises in kaiseki. The restaurant’s charming rooms are connected by wooden passages that look out onto a Japanese style garden. It is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner; they do a fantastic 11-course meal. Kocha shitsu (small tearooms) are available to enjoy upon request.
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Kinobu is a traditional kaiseki restaurant located on Shinmachi Street – one of Kyoto’s kimono fabric merchant areas. The third-generation chef at Kinobu prepares authentic kaiseki using seasonal ingredients and fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea. They have a great 7-course dinner served by kimono-clad waitresses in private rooms.
Kiyamachi Sakuragawa is an accessible place to enter the refined world of kaiseki cuisine. The Michelin-starred restaurant specialises in the freshest fish and other seafood dishes, along with seasonal vegetables – all beautifully prepared and exquisitely presented.