Kyoto cuisine in Kyoto
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Kyoto cuisine (also known as "Kyo-ryori" or "Kyoto-ryori") is known throughout Japan for its highly refined preparation and artistic presentation. Basic ingredients include tofu and tofu products like yuba (tofu skin); locally grown vegetables like eggplant, daikon and carrots; bamboo shoots; and fu (the processed wheat gluten that's a staple in Buddhist vegetarian diets). Fish and seafood are generally imported from other parts of the country, since Kyoto is inland.

Kyo-ryori restaurants often serve a lot of tofu and yuba dishes, sometimes building an entire menu around these ingredients. Tofu specialty restaurants are listed in their own section at the bottom of this page.

Many Kyoto restaurants offer kaiseki service, a lavish banquet cuisine where numerous small dishes are ceremoniously brought to the table over the course of an hour or two. Some places specialize in only kaiseki service (and these can be very expensive), while other restaurants offer a full range of meal options, including "mini-kaiseki," a more economical kaiseki option. (Note that the term "kaiseki" is now used in many ordinary Japanese restaurants simply to refer to their most expensive, multi-course options.)

Finally, there's shojin-ryori, vegetarian temple cuisine that's served at many teahouses attached to Kyoto temples, usually only at lunchtime.

Advance reservations are absolutely necessary for most kaiseki specialists and shojin-ryori places. They're a good idea in other restaurants as well, although the shops located in department stores or near Kyoto station usually don't require advance booking.

Shojin-ryori

Vegetarian temple cuisine

Ikkyu - Shojin-ryori: Daitokuji Temple
[ Open noon-6pm (LO) daily. ]
This well-established restaurant has been preparing vegetarian shojin-ryori since the mid-1400s, and it's one of the few shojin places that serves (early) dinner as well as lunch. Lunchtime service...
[ Open noon-6pm (LO) daily. ]
Izusen - Shojin-ryori: Daitokuji Temple
[ Open 11am-4pm daily. ]
This famous shojin-ryori establishment specializes in teppatsu-ryori, a rather elaborate variation of Zen vegetarian cuisine. Located inside Daitokuji Temple (on the grounds of the Daiji-in...
[ Open 11am-4pm daily. ]
Shigetsu - Shojin-ryori: Tenryuji Temple
[ Open 11am-2pm daily. ]
With a fantastic location overlooking the beautifully landscaped garden of Tenryo-ji Temple, Shigetsu serves up a beautiful vegetarian shojin-ryori lunch built around yuba, tofu and seasonal...
[ Open 11am-2pm daily. ]

Kaiseki

Elaborate (and expensive) banquet cuisine

Kinmata - Kaiseki: Kawaramachi
[ Open 7:30-9am, noon-1, 5:30-7:30pm. Closed Wednesdays. ]
This 200-year-old ryokan is now known mainly as a restaurant, with excellent seafood-centric kaiseki service. Small private tatami rooms look out onto tiny courtyards or miniature gardens, and...
[ Open 7:30-9am, noon-1, 5:30-7:30pm. Closed Wednesdays. ]
Roan Kikunoi - Kaiseki: Kawaramachi
[ Open noon-1:30, 5-8:30pm (LO). Closed Wednesdays. ]
Third-generation kaiseki chef Yoshihiro Murata takes a fresh approach to the cuisine, drawing on French and other European influences and using some non-traditional ingredients (like Japanese pears...
[ Open noon-1:30, 5-8:30pm (LO). Closed Wednesdays. ]
Doi - Kaiseki: Kodaiji Temple
[ Open noon-3:30, 4-8pm daily. ]
First-rate kaiseki in a gorgeous traditional ryotei setting. One unusual feature is their "table kaiseki," where you get to sit in a regular chair instead of on a floor cushion and save a lot of...
[ Open noon-3:30, 4-8pm daily. ]
Kikunoi - Kaiseki: Kodaiji Temple
[ Open noon-2, 5-8pm daily. ]
Chef Yoshihiro Murata is well known in Japan for his frequent TV appearances and his innovative cooking style, incorporating European influences for a new approach to traditional Kyoto-style kaiseki....
[ Open noon-2, 5-8pm daily. ]
Wakuden - Kaiseki: Kodaiji Temple
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-10pm. Closed Sundays. ]
This venerable old traditional ryotei has three branches around town, but this is the most luxurious, with a gorgeous setting and world-class food. Lunch starts at Y15,000, dinners from Y25,000.
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-10pm. Closed Sundays. ]
Kitcho - Kaiseki: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-2:30, 5-8:30pm (LO) daily. ]
In case you can't get reservations at the main branch of Kitcho, or if you can't swing a bank loan to cover your meal there, this is a more affordable, yet still elegant, alternative; full kaiseki...
[ Open 11am-2:30, 5-8:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Kitcho Arashiyama branch - Kaiseki: Tenryuji Temple
[ Open 11:30am-1, 4:30-7pm (LO) daily. ]
Perhaps the most famous kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto (and one of the most expensive), Kitcho offers first-rate food and very formal service in an idyllic setting. Guests are served in elegant private...
[ Open 11:30am-1, 4:30-7pm (LO) daily. ]

Kyo-ryori

(Many of these restaurants also have kaiseki options)

Tsuruya - Kyo-ryori: Heian Shrine
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-7pm (LO) daily. ]
Another very famous, very expensive Kyoto kaiseki restaurant with top-class food and service. Located near Heian Shrine, they're known for their more-lavish-than-usual gardens, which can be viewed...
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-7pm (LO) daily. ]
Kinobu - Kyo-ryori: Karasuma
[ Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-9:30pm daily. ]
If you want French wine with your kaiseki, this is the place - most bottles are under Y6000, although they have a number of Bordeaux wines in the Y40,000 range for big spenders. Besides kaiseki and...
[ Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-9:30pm daily. ]
Yaoya no Nikai - Kyo-ryori: Karasuma
[ Open 11am until they run out daily. ]
On the ground floor is a top-class produce shop with picture-perfect Kyoto vegetables, while upstairs they've set aside a tiny room for lunch. There's only one choice - a prix-fixe menu of small...
[ Open 11am until they run out daily. ]
Ikumatsu - Kyo-ryori: Kyoto City Hall
[ Open 11:30am-1, 5:30-7pm (LO) daily. ]
Mini-kaiseki lunches start at just Y7000 at this 200-year-old ryokan, and there's a pleasant riverfront terrace that's open May to September. Full-blown kaiseki menus are Y14,000-20,000. They also...
[ Open 11:30am-1, 5:30-7pm (LO) daily. ]
Kyohyakusai - Kyo-ryori: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-9:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Obanzai-ryori - Kyoto home-style cooking - is the specialty here, and you can choose from a wide selection of local delicacies in tiny portions. At lunchtime you get one main dish (tempura, fish,...
[ Open 11am-9:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Sepporai - Kyo-ryori: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-10:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Accessible tofu and vegetable-centered Kyo-ryori in this tastefully decorated restaurant near Kyoto station. There are only four sakes, but they're chosen to go with the food; you can also choose...
[ Open 11am-10:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Shozankaku - Kyo-ryori: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-9:15pm (LO). Closed some Tuesdays. ]
Shozankaku specializes in yuba (tofu skin), paired with top-quality vegetables and seasonal ingredients like bamboo shoots, mushrooms and fresh-water fish. Yuba-centered lunches start at Y2700,...
[ Open 11am-9:15pm (LO). Closed some Tuesdays. ]
Wakuden - Kyo-ryori: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-2:30, 5-9pm. Closed some Tuesdays. ]
Yet another Isetan branch of a Kyoto culinary landmark; this one features a pleasantly modern interior and a panoramic northward-looking view of the city. Food and drink averages around Y4000 at...
[ Open 11am-2:30, 5-9pm. Closed some Tuesdays. ]

Tofu

Komameya - Tofu: Karasuma
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-11pm. Closed second Wednesday. ]
Fresh Kyoto yuba (tofu skin) is the focal point of the menu here, with unusual dishes like yuba and roast duck carpaccio and yuba dumpling pizza. The dining room is attractively appointed in...
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-11pm. Closed second Wednesday. ]
Umenohana - Tofu: Karasuma-Oike
[ Open 11am-3, 5-9pm (LO) daily. ]
Excellent home-made tofu is the core of the menu here, with tofu-centered set meals at various price levels (Y4000-10,000).
[ Open 11am-3, 5-9pm (LO) daily. ]
Tousuiro - Tofu: Kyoto City Hall
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-9:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Good home-made tofu is the specialty here, with multi-course tofu dinners starting from Y4859. Lunch is by reservation only.
[ Open 11:30am-2, 5-9:30pm (LO) daily. ]
Fujino - Tofu: Kyoto Station
[ Open 11am-9:15pm (LO). Closed some Tuesdays. ]
This well-known tofu specialist has several branches in town, but this is probably the easiest to find. Multi-course deluxe tofu dinners average around Y4500; lunches run Y2000 or so.
[ Open 11am-9:15pm (LO). Closed some Tuesdays. ]

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