Kyoto is alive with Japanese tradition and culture, and operated as the previous capital of the country for over a millennium. Home to thousands of classical Buddhist temples, majestic gardens and imperial palaces, it’s a dynamic, modern city which still retains much of the grandeur and beauty of old Japan. And as well as offering an alluring array of attractions for visitors, the former capital also boasts some of the best Asian and international cuisine in the country. Here’s Kyoto’s best 10 restaurants and kitchens across town.
Menbakaichidai stands out because of its overwhelmingly friendly atmosphere, and it is the spot in town for creating your very own customized ramen dish. Become an expert in the art of making the Japanese delicacy here, and even try your hand at making the noodles from scratch. Order the speciality ‘fire ramen’ if seeking a spectacle, as the owner presents this dish complete with dramatic music and an array of fiery lanterns! Address and Telephone: 757-2 Minami Iseyacho, Kamigyo-Ku, Kyoto 602-8153,Kyoto Prefecture +81 75-812-5818
La Mano di Marco is the place to be for diners seeking something a little different to Japanese cuisine in Kyoto. The expert chef here, Marco, creates flavorsome dishes influenced by the food of France and Italy, with some of the top menu picks being the tagliatelle with foie gras and porcini mushrooms, and the scallops wrapped in Italian pancetta. The fresh herbs found throughout the restaurant here are charming and aromatic.
Izakaya Kyo Taisanboku is a Japanese gem nestled down a side street in central Kyoto. Step foot inside and you will be greeted by smiling staff and met by tempting aromas rising from the succulent grilled beef. A wide sake menu is available, giving diners the perfect opportunity to try many varieties of the Japanese rice wine; and the beef croquette here, made with a crispy outer layer and a rich potato and beef filling, is delicious. Address and Telephone: 424-2 Ikesucho, Nakagyo, Kyoto 604-8216, Kyoto Prefecture, +81 752313736
There are two Hafuu Honten restaurants almost next door to each other in Kyoto, a tasty partnership serving up some scrumptious Asian plates. This is a top spot to sample some perfectly cooked, tender and delicious steaks, all served with a variety of vegetables and a sauce of your choosing. The sleek and chic furnishings create a classy setting in which to dine, and there is a polished bar area or a large dining space in the back of the establishment where diners can enjoy a fantastic dish of fine food.
This bar is set in a picturesque merchant’s alley, a quiet spot hidden away from the bustle of the city’s traffic. Tapas-style food and ice-cold beer abound at Beer Komachi, a laid back venue specializing in craft ales, and a perfect place in which to relax and enjoy a meal with friends. All plates are prepared using local, organic ingredients, and top menu picks include the roast lamb, the tofu pizza and the spicy scallops.
For visitors searching for a traditional Japanese establishment, Shishin Samurai Café Bar & Restaurant is the place to go. The owner is a fountain of knowledge for everything to do with Samurai culture, and this interest in reflected deliciously in his menu; don’t miss the ginormous Samurai burger and couscous salad. Authentic artwork charmingly adorns the walls here, transporting diners into a Samurai era of bygone Japan.
Arash’s Kitchen serves a variety of Meriterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian Plates, a mixture of tasty cuisines sure to tantalize the taste buds! Chef Arash, the mastermind behind the diverse menu, is extremely friendly and welcoming and speaks both English and Japanese, offering help and advice. As the venue is always brimming with customers reservations are highly recommended, and whilst here diners are implored to try the tender and juicy chicken and beef kebabs. Address and Telephone: Shogoinsan’no cho16-4 | 2F Sun Plaza, Kyoto 606-8392, Kyoto Prefecture+81 757464769
Le Bouchon is set on a small street at the back of the City Hall in central Kyoto, serving a mixture of Japanese and French dishes. A casual and elegant venue in which to enjoy some French classics, two of the most popular main dishes here are the quenelle à la lyonnaise and the chicken breast roll with foie gras. And if seeking a sweet option to follow, don’t miss the sticky and moreish creme caramel. Address and Telephone: 71 Enokicho, Nakagyo-ku | Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto 604-0931, Kyoto Prefecture+81 75-211-5220
Okariba is a cozy, warm establishment with a decor based on the style of a log cabin, with low ceilings and rustic, wooden seating. And this is the place to sample some hearty, meaty fare, with wild boar, venison and trout being some of the top picks on the menu. Don’t miss the owner, who both sees diners to their table and helps out in the kitchen. With a variety of hot and cold beverages available, visitors might just find that they can spend hours snuggled up in this cozy hut! Address and phone number: 43-3 Okazaki Higashitenno-cho, Sakyo-ku | Residence Okazaki 1F, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture +81 75-751-7790
Yoshikawa Inn Tempura is the top spot in which to try tempura in central Kyoto. Two large, fixed-price menus leave the diner spoilt for choice with vegetable and seafood tempura options. With a private dining area as well as a beautiful bonsai garden area in which to sit, customers can choose to enjoy the sophisticated interior or eat under the balmy Kyoto sun.