Kyoto cuisine is said to arise from the fusion of various cooking traditions, including imperial court cuisine (yūsoku-ryōri), samurai cuisine (honzen-ryōri), Buddhist temple cuisine (shōjin-ryōri), and tea ceremony cuisine (cha-kaiseki). The unbroken flow of elegance that characterizes the people and lifestyle of Kyoto, the ancient Buddhist discipline, and the heart of the tea ceremony, imbued with the sense of season and some contemporary playful spirit have all been integrated as “Kyoto cuisine.”
Kaiseki is the quintessential Japanese haute cuisine, a tasting course characterized by the perfection of its preparation and elegant presentation. Originally a meal of small dishes meant to accompany the bitter green tea of Japanese tea ceremonies, kaiseki has become a dazzling culinary tradition unto itself. Kaiseki eschews strong sauces or overly complex arrangements, instead presenting every dish with stark simplicity around natural themes that highlight the superior quality of seasonal ingredients. This absence of artifice means that every ingredient must be selected at the height of freshness and then carefully prepared to showcase its true flavor.
This is a special experience and also very pricey, so be prepared. Lunch is a good option, if price is a consideration.
Karyo is a traditional Japanese kaiseki restaurant offering exquisitely prepared and presented dishes with an emphasis on the finest ingredients, from fresh seafood to choice seasonal vegetables.
Kaiseki is Japanese haute cuisine, and nowhere serves it quite as beautifully as Kyoto. Often a reflection of the season in which it is served, each dish is created to be as much of a delight to behold as it is to taste. Karyo enjoys a well-deserved reputation with Japanese nationals and foreigners alike, for its superb kaiseki courses, as well as for very reasonable prices for such high-end food.
Located between the Kamo River and Yasaka shrine, this secluded restaurant is the perfect way to end an afternoon walking around the beautiful and traditional area of Gion. The 2-storey interior is stylish and comfortable, offering 8 traditional counter seats and a private room for up to 4 people on the 1st floor, and 7 table seats on the 2nd floor. For visitors looking for a romantic setting, Karyo is ideal.
Both smoking and non-smoking available. Advance booking is necessary.
It is small, so best to make a reservation.
Kiyamachi Sakuragawa is a traditional Japanese restaurant offering kaiseki and kappo cuisine.
Kaiseki is the Japanese equivalent of Western haute cuisine, served in extensive courses comprised of many delicate and artfully presented small dishes, with some equally exquisite main dishes.
Kappo cuisine, on the other hand, has its roots in ceremonial feasting and Buddhist tradition and brings a more sophisticated and, in some ways, simpler culinary aesthetic to kaiseki courses.
Kiyamachi Sakuragawa specializes in the freshest fish (grilled, steamed and sashimi) and other seafood dishes, beautifully prepared and presented along with other fine ingredients and choice seasonal vegetables. Often reflecting the season in which it is served, each dish is created to be as much a delight to behold as it is to taste.
Boasting three Michelin stars, Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama is perhaps the most famous kaiseki restaurant in Japan. A meal at this restaurant includes Kobe beef, fatty bluefin tuna and saké of the highest grade.
Hours: Thu-Tue 11:30 am-3:00 pm, 4:30 pm-9:00 pm
Closed: Wednesday, December 26th to December 31st and January 3rd to January 9th
The affable owner-chef provides delightful service. He is also a chef who isn’t trapped by tradition – the salad-style carpaccio is one example. Western ingredients are sometimes incorporated into the dressing to keep your taste buds guessing. At the end comes rice, grown by his parents – try it first as-is, then with salt and finally with small rare fish from Lake Biwa boiled in a sweet broth – and soup that uses the upper, clear layer of miso soup.
Lunch = 12:00-14:30 L.O.13:00
Dinner = 18:00-21:30 L.O.20:00
Annual and weekly closing: Closed late January, late August, late December, 1 January, Tuesday and 2nd Monday
Dating back to 1801, Kinmata is situated in a ryokan.
This was my first kaiseki experience when I stayed here many years ago. It continues to receive rave reviews, for both the ryokan and meals. It has been managed by the same family for eight generations. In the heart of the Nishiki market area and inside this historical building.
“We focus especially on serving the authentic hospitality cuisine in the tradition of the “cha-kaiseki.” In Japanese, the word “gochisō” (feast) originally meant that the host had raced around on horseback to gather the ingredients for his guests’ meals, and thus expressed hospitality. At Kichisen, we follow this philosophy as we gather delicious seasonal ingredients from throughout Japan and offer them to our guests.
To make a reservation at Kichisen, please contact your hotel, tell them when you would like to dine with us, and ask the staff to call Kichisen at 075-711-6121 to arrange your reservation. Please see the reservations page for more details. We look forward to hearing from your hotel, and to welcoming you in Kyoto.”
For more interesting information about this 3 star Michelin restaurant and chef Yoshihiro Tanigawa: http://kichisen-kyoto.com/en/
“Kyokabutoya began from the desire to serve quality cuisine in a bar-like atmosphere, to create a restaurant where chefs would want to eat, and to fill that restaurant with laughing voices and smiling faces!
Within the very traditional exterior of Kyokabutoya is an interior renovated to preserve the best attributes of Kyo-machiyatownhouses while creating a relaxing atmosphere for guests – a perfect harmony of old and new. Wine is available by the glass so that guests can enjoy different pairings with Japanese dishes.
We also hope to acquaint our non-Japanese guests with genuine Japanese cuisine in a relaxing atmosphere.”
Mr. & Mrs. Tanaka are both professional chefs of Japanese cuisine and serve their traditional Japanese kaiseki course dishes in a casual atmosphere. The husband fell in love with the fresh vegetables in Ohara (northern Kyoto) so they include lots in their dishes. The lunch “Rororo Bento” has a number of different dishes served on small plates so that you can try many kinds of tastes. One of the plates has 8 dishes such as simmered seaweed, sesame tofu and lily bulbs seasoned with plum. Another plate is with rice cooked in an iron pot with two side dishes. Vegetable miso soup accompanies the set. Considering the generous portions and dishes, Demachi Rororo is incredibly reasonable, not to mention a very popular restaurant in Kyoto.
Hours: 11:30-14:00, 18:00-21:00
Closed: Tues., 1st & 3rd Mon.
This famous 2 Michelin restaurant is located on extensive grounds at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain Range in Kyoto.
Legend has it that water from a local well called “Kikusui-no-i” was used by the first wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (a key figure in Japan’s feudal era) to make tea, causing spring water to burst forth in the pattern of a chrysanthemum (“kiku” in Japanese) in full bloom. The locals took care of this well for many generations, and eventually began to use its water in cooking. This was the origin of the name Kikunoi – literally meaning “chrysanthemum well.” The restaurant itself was established in 1912 and is currently headed by the third-generation owner-chef Yoshihiro Murata.
Hours: 11:30 – 1:30 and 5:00 – 8:30
No regular holidays (however, closed some days during the New Year period.
Akasaka Kikunoi and Roan Kikunoi (Kiyamachi) do not take online reservations.
Please make reservations through your hotel concierge.
Kuzushi Kaiseki Nekoya
Located in front of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, this small and exclusive kaiseki establishment seats just seven customers. Each one of them waits in anticipation of the next act of culinary magic from Chef Takei Suzuki, famous in the Japanese culinary world for reimagining traditional Japanese food using non-traditional ingredients, such as foie gras and wild game. Every dish is made completely from scratch in house, lending Nekoya fare a unique character and flavor in an environment that relaxes the mind and body—just as long as one can get a seat.
Born in Kyoto in 1949, he set his heart on cooking from age 18. He went to Hyotei thinking “If I want to learn, I’ll learn from the best.” Until 27, he spent almost 10 years there learning the fundamentals, afterwards moving between famed restaurants in Kyoto and Okayama. At 38, he returned to Kyoto and opened his own place, Midori. He vaulted to fame with his interpretation of traditional Japanese food using non-traditional ingredients like game meat and foie gras. Afterwards, in 2008 he moved to his current location in front of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where he serves his cuisine in a small and cozy 7-seat space.
Hours: Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Sunday, Holidays, Days before holidays] Lunch 12:00-13:00 Customers can enter until 13:00/Dinner 18:00-21:00 Customers can enter until 21:00
Nikuno Takumi Miyoshi
Nikuno Takumi Miyoshi is a refreshingly modern take on kaiseki that, in bold contrast to most such establishments, specializes in wagyu beef dishes. Serving only the finest grade A beef, Miyoshi presents its guests with a number of renowned wagyu brands including Matsusaka beef and Kobe beef. The exquisitely prepared wagyu gyutan, or beef tongue, is the undisputed highlight of the menu.
Chef Yoshiko Yano has explored the finer points of traditional Kyoto cuisine for nearly 30 years, creating beautifully plated dishes meant to be savored with both the eyes and the palate.
Every dish at Ishibekoji Kamikura uses carefully selected fresh, local ingredients, which are diligently prepared and painstakingly arranged in an array of pleasing natural colors. Highly recommended here is the “Omukai” course, a seasonal seafood arrangement that is not only a pleasure to eat but also to gaze upon.
〒605-0825 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Shimokawaracho, ４６３−１２ 605 0825
Enjoy a banquet of the seasons and the senses at Teramachi Yoshikura, whose kaiseki course focuses on the home-style cuisine of Kyoto, known as kyo-ryouri. Each understated dish is executed with simple seasonings to evoke the natural bounty found in Kyoto’s seasonal vegetables. Renowned Chef Toshiyuki Taniguchi, whose illustrious career includes cooking for state guests and the Japanese prime minister, takes great care in the presentation of every dish, from the ingredients down to the dishware. The restaurant also offers a selection of hard-to-find sakés and shochu liquors to complement every dish.
At the heart of every dish found at Michelin-starred Owatari is fresh water drawn from local Shimogoryo Shrine. This refreshing natural nectar is then enhanced by dashi soup stock and topped off with fresh local ingredients in order to bring out the savory umami flavor. House favorites include turnips simmered in pure Kyoto water and cooked with caramelized white miso, as well as succulent snow crab from the Hamasaka region in Hyogo prefecture.
Utilizing fresh seafood and produce from the nearby area of Kyotango, Muromachi Wakuden combines black abalone, delicate shoots of bamboo, rapeseed blossom paste, and Japanese pepper in a stunning dish that captures the essence of the spring season. In addition to private dining rooms as found in most kaiseki restaurants, Wakuden offers counter seating where guests may observe the chef, a master at the height of his craft whose dishes perfectly embody the seasonality of Kyoto kaiseki.
Every day, restaurant staff at Gion Nishikawa visit the Ohara morning market for vegetables such as Kamo eggplant and old-fashioned sugukipickles from reputable Kyoto-area farmers. This farm-fresh bounty is expertly paired with only the finest sashimi, with local specialties such as Akashi sea bream and Nushima conger eel, as well as carefully selected seafood from across Japan—tilefish from Tsushima, Nagasaki black abalone, Boshu clams, Noto rosy sea bass, and seasonal sea urchin from Rishiri Island in Hokkaido and Yura, Wakayama. Gion Nishikawa’s painstaking quest for the best locally and nationally sourced ingredients is never in vein, as every dish refreshes and reinvigorates in a relaxing atmosphere.
Located in the historic Gion district, Michelin-starred Aji Fukushima truly captures the refined and delicate atmosphere, culture, and flavors of old Kyoto. Every dish, from the stunningly prepared egg yolk and sea urchin down to the homemade tuna broth, demonstrates the formidable skill of Chef Yoshikatsu Tsuji, who strives for peerless perfection in all his creations. Hours: Lunch 11:30-13:00 Customers can enter until 13:00/Dinner 17:00-20:00 To enter after 20:00, please call beforehand. Closed: Sundays, Last Monday of every month
A one Michelin star restaurant. Fine craftsmanship is apparent throughout the beautiful interior; the furnishings are elegant, but it is the home-like atmosphere and friendly service that draw people here. There are private rooms available, but we recommend the counter seats where you can chat with the chef.
Shoes must be removed.
The specialty here is mizutaki chicken hot pot, a delectable dish featuring fresh local Tamba chicken and generously garnished with kujo scallions, a traditional Kyoto vegetable. The tofu used in the hot pot comes from renowned Kyoto tofu shop Hattori and retains the natural sweetness of soybeans. Guests can enjoy recessed kotatsu seating, a low table with enough room underneath to stretch, as well as a view of Gion Kurashita’s central courtyard, containing a picturesque garden that beautifully displays the scenery of the passing seasons.
In the grounds of Daitokugi Temple, find Izusen. Why not top off your temple experience by enjoying a nice shojin ryori kaiseki here? If the weather cooperates, you can even eat in the garden.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-4:00 pm
Closed: December 29th to December 31st
Ganko Takasegawa Nijoen
This 400+ year-old establishment used to be a vacation home for a powerful merchant, but has since been converted into a beautiful restaurant that serves authentic Kyoto kaiseki. Additionally, Ganko Takasegawa Nijoen provides maiko (apprentice geiko) performances.
Despite being located in The Ritz-Carlton hotel, Kaiseki Mizuki offers surprisingly affordable and delectable lunch sets for 5,000 yen.
As would be expected of the Ritz-Carlton, the service is also impeccable and sommeliers are on hand to recommend a wine to complement your meal.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:30 am-2:30 pm (last order), 5:30 pm-9:30 pm (last order)
Located near Kodaiji Temple, this two Michelin star restaurant started out as an inn before turning itself into the elegant kaiseki restaurant it is today. Kodaiji Wakuden uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients, so each season has a unique menu.
Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00 pm-3:00 pm, 5:30 pm-10:00 pm
Closed: Sunday and late December to early January
Treat yourself to a nice kaiseki meal after shopping at the major department store (Takashimaya) across the street. This hidden gem serves authentic kyo ryori kaiseki and even bentos (lunch boxes) for those who’d prefer to dine picnic style.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-8:30 pm
Right in the centre of Gion, Mashita boasts a Michelin star for its exemplary traditional cooking. With a ton of experience under his belt, Chef Masahiro Mashita has perfected the art of preparing kaiseki. With the utmost respect for the craft, he carefully selects the best ingredients and arranges each dish exquisitely.
Hours: Fri-Wed 11:30 am-2:00 pm, 5:00 pm-9:00 pm
Ume No Hana
Most of the dishes at Ume No Hana Kyoto Karasuma consist of tofu. To keep it interesting, they are prepared in a variety of unique ways. In addition to its delicious tofu dishes, it’s affordable too.
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 am-4:00 pm, 5:00 pm-10:00 pm
Closed: December 31st to January 1st