Karasuma-Oike: Izakaya
Open 11:30am-2, 5-9pm (LO) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays
decor: Notable decor

This popular dining bar balances elegant decor with a casual, lively atmosphere. The kitchen turns out creative Japanese cuisine and offers a well-chosen sake list, all at quite reasonable prices.

It's hard to choose a favorite dish here, but the pork kakuni - served in a rich sauce with just the right amount of fat for optimal flavor - is a strong contender. Gindara Saikyoyaki (miso-marinated silver cod), with tender, oily flesh contrasting appealingly with crisp skin, is another.

Gorgonzola-maitake mushroom spring rolls are filled with plump mushrooms in a crunchy fried shell, set off by a gorgonzola sauce that's assertive without being overpowering. Renkon manju (lotus-root dumplings) are a cold-weather comfort food, deep-fried burdock root and chicken tsukune are sure-fire crowd pleasers, and the salad with hakusai and smoked scallops raises the bar for izakaya salads.

Budget around Y5,000 or so for dinner with drinks; note that reservations are essential. Unfortunately there are no reservations at lunchtime, so unless you want to wait on a long line, dinner is recommended.

Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Daikokucho 90, Dolce Vita Kyoto Rokkaku B1F.

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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended