People often associate Kyoto with Japanese cuisine, but it is also the biggest consumer of beef in Japan. It consumes nearly double the average national consumption volume of beef! Below are 10 famous yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) restaurants that you have to check out when visiting the meat-loving city of Kyoto.
Housed in a 90-year-old machiya (traditional Kyoto home that’s long and narrow with a small frontage, thus why it’s also called “eel’s bed”) in Gion, this restaurant is a place where you can dine in luxury. It costs 7,500 JPY (excl. tax, reservations required a day in advance) to savor their courses made with only the best premium Japanese Black beef in their private rooms. Grilled over charcoal, it can be eaten with salt, sauce, negi-shio (leek and salt), or black sesame seeds. After eating, head to the dessert room and take a moment to relax. For lunch, you can enjoy Japanese Black beef through their Sumibiyaki Course (charcoal-grilled meat course) (7,000 JPY (excl. tax, no reservation required)).
Enveloped in a modern and mature vibe, this restaurant specializes in Kobe beef. They buy the whole cattle, enabling them to serve up rare and special parts. Kobe beef is known for being light despite its marbled nature, as well as its silky, melt-in-the-mouth texture. Their Dinner Course (prices start at 7,000 JPY (excl. tax)) will let you enjoy this premium Kobe beef in six different ways, including yakiniku and yaki-shabu (a dish that fuses yakiniku and shabu-shabu, which is a dish of thinly-sliced meat that is boiled with vegetables and then dipped in sauce before being eaten) Same-day reservations are no problem. They also offer lunches that only use Kobe beef at reasonable prices, such as the Kobe-gyu Yakiniku-don (grilled Kobe beef bowl) (1,500 JPY (excl. tax)).
3. Hiro Yasaka-tei
Hiro Yasaka-tei is a charming restaurant that is found along a quiet street overlooking the Yasaka Pagoda. The only menu item here is the Osusume Yakiniku Kaiseki (traditional course meal) (prices start at 8,640 JPY (incl. tax)), which will let you taste fine Kyoto cuisine with a seasonal flair, as well as premium Japanese beef yakiniku. There are private rooms available, but you’ll get an extraordinary experience by dining in their huge reception hall while marveling at the beautiful 330 sq.m. Japanese garden. Have your dessert at their salon, which originally was a renovated storehouse. Experience luxury while enjoying the aftertaste of the food you ate!
4. Hiro Gion Yamana-an
Hiro Gion Yamana-an, the sister restaurant of Hiro Yasaka-tei, is a quaint restaurant housed in a renovated ryori-ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn that is centered around cuisine) that is more than 100 years old. At this modern restaurant, you can enjoy yakiniku in a space that shows traces of the former ryori-ryokan with its large beams and polished pillars. Their Ryori-cho Omakase Course (a course where the head chef chooses the dishes to be served), which is based around Japanese Black beef yakiniku and filled with seasonal ingredients, starts from 6,000 JPY (incl. tax). Their menu is also filled with Wagyu yakiniku a la carte dishes, such as the Ryori-cho Gensen Shioyaki Yon-shu Aji Kurabe (2,680 JPY), which is loaded with different kinds of recommended meats for the day. Similar to its sister restaurant, this is a place where you can have your fill of Kyoto dishes and new types of yakiniku.
Ryuuan is a restaurant where you can savor yakiniku and shabu-shabu made with the finest Tamura beef. They refuse to compromise about anything about the beef, including its pedigree. A rare kind of meat that you will barely see in the market, Tamura beef has an exquisite balance between its melty fat and marbled lean meat. They offer a long list of dishes for both lunch and dinner. Everything on the menu can be ordered from lunch onward. They offer 10 types of meals, from great-value ones that cost 1,000 JPY (excl. tax), all the way up to the special Wagyu steak course, Ryu-an Ami-yaki Lunch (grilled meat lunch) (6,500 JPY (incl. tax))! Ryuuan is just a minute’s walk from Gion-shijo Station, making the restaurant easy to access at any time.
This restaurant offers yakiniku of top-class Wagyu at its most delicious, which includes Tamura beef and other kinds of premium beef from all over Japan. It is the sister restaurant of Ryuuan, which is known for its use of Tamura beef. When you order the Omakase Yakiniku Course (prices start at 6,000 JPY (excl. tax)) that incorporates the recommended handpicked ingredients of the day, you can tell the staff what meat you want. Great-value meals include the Yakiniku Set (prices start at 5,800 JPY (excl. tax), serving is for 2 people or more), which comes with meat that you can eat with salt or sauce, yaki-shabu (wherein the meat is seared before being eaten), and lettuce. Just like its sister restaurant, it is also popular for its value lunches.
Toku is a restaurant where you can eat premium yakiniku in a luxurious space. With seats offering a view of Kamogawa River from the window, this mature space will let you feel all four seasons in Kyoto. Here, you can eat Omi beef, which is one of the three best brands of beef in Japan. The restaurant buys the cattle whole, so you can savor beef cuts that only come in small quantities at affordable prices through dishes like the Omi-gyu Kisho Bui Sanshu-Mori (assortment of three rare Omi beef cuts) (4,500 JPY (excl. tax)). The Kuroge Wagyu no Atsugiri Gokujo Tan (thick slices of Japanese Black beef tongue) (2,980 JPY (excl. tax)), in particular, is a famous dish with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that many fans come from afar to taste. Make sure to come early, as only limited quantities of this dish are available.
Kinoe is a restaurant where you can consume all of Japan’s three best Japanese beefs – Omi beef, Kobe beef, and Matsusaka beef. They are particular about every single aspect of the beef, including which producers it came from. If you want eat all of them at once, you have to order the Omi-gyu, Kobe-gyu, Matsusaka-gyu San-shu Moriawase (3,990 JPY (incl. tax)). You will be able to eat and compare Omi beef – well-known for its delicious lean meat, Kobe beef – which has a taste and aroma that’s famous worldwide, and Matsusaka beef – a flavorsome variety that melts in your mouth. It also offers more than 10 types of yukhoe (raw meat), which is something that they can do because they have a license for handling raw meats. Made with fresh, raw meat taken from a whole Omi cattle, their yukhoe is priced from 790 JPY (incl. tax). Enjoy the robust flavor that you can only taste with raw meat!
9. Nishiki Henkotsu
This restaurant is located near Nishiki Market, which is a sightseeing spot that is also called “Kyoto’s kitchen”. Customers get to taste items like the Wagyu Ichibo (1,280 JPY per 100g (excl. tax)) – a cut of beef with a high scarcity value that is known for the unique juiciness of its lean meat and having the right amount of fat. Wagyu Ichibo is cheap because the meats served here are apparently sourced directly from the butcher shop that the owner used to work at. You can eat this premium Wagyu with two kinds of secret sauces. Those who prefer a lighter flavor ought to try the white sauce that tastes a bit like Japanese broth, while those who prefer a more robust taste should go with the secret black sauce, which is made by setting aside a mixture of more than 30 ingredients for a long time.
10. Hiro Shoten
This is a restaurant where you can enjoy Wagyu yakiniku at reasonable prices. It is the second-line sister restaurant of Hiro Yasaka-tei and Hiro Gion Yamana-an, which were two high-class yakiniku restaurants featured above. The prices here may be cheap, but the meats and meat dishes are truly delicious. One particularly popular dish is the Gensen Shio Yonshu-Mori (assortment of four kinds of meats) (1,980 JPY (incl. tax)), which will let you nibble on small pieces of a variety of meats, handpicked from the fresh Wagyu delivered that day. You can also enjoy other ways of eating Wagyu, such as through the Nikuya no Motsu Nikomi (stewed offal) (580 JPY (incl. tax)) and the famous handmade Japanese hamburger, Wagyu Bakudan (680 JPY (incl. tax)).
Kyoto may be packed with famous restaurants serving Kyo-kaiseki (traditional course meal of Kyoto) and Obanzai (traditional homecooked cuisine), but don’t you also feel like eating some delicious meat? This list featured a wide array of restaurants, from high-end yakiniku shops carrying the unique vibe of Kyoto, up to yakiniku spots that customers could easily visit. All the restaurants on this list are famous joints where you can enjoy premium Wagyu. Make sure to use it as a reference the next time you crave yakiniku 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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