Shijo Kawaramachi is a particularly lively area in Kyoto. There are many fashionable and attractive gourmet spots there,and here are five select izakaya with reasonable prices that you can enjoy casually.
1. Bansan Kyoshoku
Bansan Kyoshoku is in a renovated machiya-style traditional wooden townhouse. The entrance, which looks like a narrow alley, is marked by a Japanese lantern. The cobblestones beyond it make for a very Kyoto atmosphere. The counter is piled with fresh Kyoyasai vegetables procured at the morning market in Tamba. The restaurant is particular about the ingredients it uses, and gets its fresh fish directly from Nishiki Market and its free-range Nanatani jidori chicken from Kameoka. A recommended dish is the Nanatani free-range chicken sashimi plate (1,400 JPY). The sashimi made from free-range chicken freshly slaughtered in the morning is odorless, soft, and has just the right amount of meat. It is an item with a slightly sweet flavor.
Momoya is a specialty kushiage (fried skewer) restaurant. They use a specially mixed vegetable oil so the skewers fry up lightly and go well with wine. Their signature menu item is the asparagus wrapped in pork (280 JPY (excl. tax)), which are crispy deep-fried super thick asparagus stalks wrapped in thin slices of pork. The discounted six kushiage set (800 JPY (excl. tax)) is appropriate for those who may have difficulty selecting from a large menu since it's a chef's selection of seasonal kushiage.
3. Mame-cha Kyoto
This is a restaurant in the atmospheric cobblestoned streets of Ishibekoji. It is in a renovated old Japanese house, with a horigotatsu recessed floor-style counter with a view of the courtyard on the first floor and a private room and a room with zashiki-style seating with a view of a five-story pagoda out the window on the second floor. Here, you'll be able to enjoy some of Kyoto's home cooking, called obanzai, in a luxurious setting. The recommended dish is the cute Mame-cha's obanzai box (880 JPY (excl. tax)). Seven types of daily obanzai are served in a small box so that you can enjoy various flavors at once.
Kazuya is a hideaway-like restaurant in the back streets. Their signature offering is definitely the sumibiyaki charcoal grill! The Kaizoku (pirate) chicken (990 JPY (incl. tax)) of bone-in chicken thighs vigorously cooked on a charcoal grill comes with French fries and is a specialty dish recommended for those with a hearty appetite. The Shima-hokke (striped Okhotsk atka mackerel) open-cut filet (790 JPY (incl. tax)) is procured directly from the central wholesale food market and is huge! Because it is cooked on a charcoal grill, it is plump and juicy. Keep in mind that today's sumibiyaki charcoal grill of fresh fish, made with a daily selection of seasonal fresh fish, is limited in number.
Kuruma specializes in sumibiyaki charcoal grill of free-range chicken from Miyazaki. The restaurant is in an elegant renovated Taisho-era (1912-1926) townhouse with great atmosphere full of the Kyoto feel. The restaurant is a relaxing space from which guests can enjoy the courtyard. The recommended dish here is the sumibiyaki of Jitokko free-range chicken thigh (1,500 JPY (excl. tax))! The springy thigh meat with a slight charcoal aroma is the restaurant's popular signature dish that is said to give out more and more umami flavors as you eat it.
All of these izakaya restaurants are reasonably priced so you can visit them casually. The Shijo Kawaramachi area is also easy to get to, so stop by when you are in Kyoto!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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