Izakaya are places where you can enjoy a variety of food and a wide range of drinks including beer, chuhai (shochu and other alcohol mixed with soda water), sake, and shochu. In this article, we introduce ten izakaya known for their seafood from among the many izakaya in Kyoto.
1. Robata Uonabe ICHI-RIN
This is an izakaya where one can enjoy fresh fish procured directly from domestic fishing ports along with local Kyoto sake. Fresh fish caught in the morning can be enjoyed raw, grilled, and in nabe (hot pot). First, order the Sakazuki-mori (3,300 JPY (incl. tax) and up), a selection of the recommended sashimi of the day. Also, be sure to get the fresh seasonal seafood, such as Ise lobster and turban shell, char-grilled right in front of the counter. The local Kyoto sake, of which there are always more than 10 varieties to choose from, go perfectly with delicacies such as Eihire (dried ray fin) (630 JPY (incl. tax)) grilled just to your liking on a charcoal burner.
This izakaya serves seasonal fish selected by the keen eye of the head chef. The menu always has a selection of the day's recommended fish. There is a tank on site so that shrimp and shell fish can be kept fresh and then prepared once the order is placed. Our recommendation is the Robata-yaki Moriawase Kai-mori (1,580 JPY (excl. tax) and up), an assortment of shellfish taken straight from the tank and then char-grilled. The food is made with Kyoto ingredients, such as seasonal Kyo Yasai vegetables and Nanzenji Tofu. At any given time, there is a choice of about 15 different sake varieties that have been carefully selected from around the country.
3. Fushimigura Karasuma Bettei
This izakaya serves sake from 17 breweries from Fushimi, the famous sake-making district in Kyoto, along with fresh and seasonal fish. There is a selection of about 50 different types of sake to please everyone from beginners to aficionados. The recommended sake menu is the Fushimi no Jizake Otameshi Set (the sampler of three local Fushimi sake) (700 JPY (excl. tax)), which changes monthly. The sake can be enjoyed with fresh seafood procured directly from fishing ports as well as obanzai* (400 JPY (excl. tax) and up) made with nama-fu (wheat gluten), fresh yuba (tofu skin) and Kyo Yasai vegetables.
*Obanzai is Kyoto-style home cooking.
4. Marufuku Kamanza Nijo Branch
This is an izakaya near the popular tourist spot of Nijo Castle. Its specialty is the Sushi (100 JPY and up), which can be ordered individually. There is also a wide selection of grilled fish, such as Tai no Ara-taki (ara-taki of sea bream) (780 JPY) and Buri Kama Shio-yaki (salt grilled Japanese amberjack collar) (750 JPY). In addition, there is a variety of items, such as tempura and meat dishes made with seasonal ingredients and a wide range of sake and shochu.
This is a place to enjoy fresh, seasonal ingredients at reasonable prices. It prides itself on the freshness of its seafood, which is procured from around the country. Be sure to enjoy the recommended items that change daily and monthly, such as Otsukuri (sashimi) (380 JPY (excl. tax) and up), grilled fish and simmered fish. The crunchy, freshly fried Tempura (80 JPY (excl. tax)) and Hamayaki (480 JPY (excl. tax)) of fish and shellfish grilled at the table are also popular. There is also a variety of sake that is carefully selected by the sake-loving owner, including seasonal ones and ones that go perfectly with the food.
6. Anji Fucho-mae Branch
This is a lively and casual izakaya restaurant that serves fresh fish from around the country. Its specialty is the Oke-uri Ryori. After sitting down, the staff will bring out the fresh fish procured that day in an oke (pail) so you can select the fish and cooking method of your choice. The Salt Grilled Toro Hokke (850 JPY (excl. tax) and up) of hokke* caught in Rausu, Hokkaido, is also outstanding. The Saba no Miso-ni (the Mackerel simmered in flavored miso) (650 JPY (excl. tax)) and Shun-sengyo Aradaki (aradaki of fresh seasonal fish) (650 JPY (excl. tax) and up) are also popular. Enjoy them with the special sake procured from around the country.
*Hokke is a type of fish that can be caught in the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is distinguished by rich, fatty white meat.
7. Kaba Kyoto Shijo Karasuma Branch
Robata Kaba is an izakaya that is very popular in the Sanin Region on the Sea of Japan, which known for its fantastic seafood. The Kyoto Shijo Karasuma Branch is its first branch in the Kansai Region. A dish you don't want to miss is the Kaba Oke-mori (680 JPY (excl. tax) and up), a collection of eight different sashimi of fish caught that morning. You can select the types of fish you want to try. The Robata-yaki of chargrilled seasonal vegetables and fresh fish procured directly from the Sanin Region are also fantastic dishes that whet the appetite with the aroma of the grilled food. The sake consists mostly of outstanding sake chosen from the many breweries in Shimane and Tottori Prefectures.
Boutahei aims to be the cheapest seafood izakaya in the area. Not only does it serve fresh seafood, but because it is procured through a special route that the owner has cultivated himself, there is a selection of unusual fish rarely seen at other restaurants. There is a wide variety of menu items that change depending on each day's catch, such as Salt Boiled Gangara (a type of spiral shellfish) (400 JPY) that is usually consumed locally and rarely seen outside of the fishing ports, and simmered Baba, which is a type of deep-sea fish. When you are finished drinking, be sure to order the restaurant's original Hama-fu Jiru (hama style soup) (500 JPY), which is full of seafood such as Japanese blue crab and shrimp.
9. Kani Douraku Kyoto Fushimi Branch
Kani Doraku is a chain of crab restaurants famous for the huge signs with moving crabs. The main restaurant is in Dotonbori in Osaka, but there is also a branch in Fushimi in Kyoto. At this restaurant, you can savor a wide selection of dishes made by skilled chefs while enjoying the view of a garden that showcases the changing seasons. The signature menu item, Kani-suki (crab sukiyaki) (4,300 JPY (excl. tax)), is an outstanding dish through which you can savor the delicate sweetness and umami flavors of crab. Enjoy it with a secret broth that is light yet complex. There is also the Kani Zukushi no Kaiseki Ryori (crab kaiseki course) (4,600 JPY (excl. tax) and up) of numerous crab dishes including appetizers, sashimi and tempura, as well as a wide selection of a la carte items.
10. Mekiki no Ginji Shijo Omiya Eki-mae Branch
This is a branch of an izakaya chain popular for fresh fish procured from fishing ports and fishermen around the country. The No. 1 most popular menu item is the Sashimi Gokai Otoko-mori (dramatic sashimi plate) (1,580 JPY (excl. tax)). It is a luxurious selection of fresh sashimi including shrimp, tuna and salmon. The Ma-ika Sugata-zukuri (squid sugata-zukuri) (1,580 JPY (excl. tax)) of a whole squid from Hakodate includes tasty tentacles, mantle, and liver grilled at the table. The Hamayaki (358 JPY (excl. tax) and up) of clam grilled on a grate is also a must try.
Izakaya that serve a variety of tasty dishes as well as sake are a part of Japan's unique culture. There are many in Kyoto, so be sure to refer to this article and visit them.
*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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