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Five Select Restaurants in Kyoto Where You Can Savor the Flavors of Spring

If you are traveling around Kyoto in the spring, you'll want to enjoy the seasonal cuisine. So this time, we introduce five select restaurants that serve seasonal flavors made with takenoko (bamboo shoots) and other ingredients. The selection includes a wide range of restaurants such as ones in convenient locations near stations, and others in the suburbs worth making the efforts to get to.

1. Chikumo

Takenoko announces the arrival of spring in Kyoto. This is a restaurant in the Nishiyama area, a famous takenoko-producing region. The takenoko that the restaurant procures from contracted farms have little bitterness and are thick, white and soft. They are harvested early in the morning, parboiled immediately to reduce the harsh taste, and cooked into creative dishes. There are two kaiseki courses available in the spring - The Takenoko Kaiseki (8,000 JPY - 10,000 JPY (excl. tax and service)) and the more affordable Takenoko Mini-Kaiseki (5,000 JPY (excl. tax and service)). Both are offered for a limited period, from late March to early May.

1. Chikumo

2-6-5 Hachijo-gaoka, Nagaokakyo-shi, Kyoto

2. Yamabun

This is a high-end ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant) in the cobblestoned Gion area, a district with an atmosphere unique to Kyoto. In this restaurant, you can enjoy seasonal flavors, including takenoko, in the stylish interior of a traditional Kyo-machiya residence that was built more than 100 years ago. It offers reasonably-priced seasonal kaiseki courses (3,000 JPY and up (excl. tax)), featuring different items every month. It also has a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, including local sake from Kyoto. This is a place to savor seasonal cuisine together with outstanding sake that has been carefully selected from around the country.

2. Yamabun

570-125 Gion-machi Minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

3. kuukaisan

This is an izakaya (Japanese pub) located 3 minutes on foot from Kyoto Station, where you can enjoy seasonal cuisine made with carefully selected fresh ingredients. The restaurant's pride is the fresh seafood procured directly from fishing ports around the country such as Hokkaido, Miyagi, Toyama and Kagoshima. The owner, who knows everything there is to know about fish, will suggest how best to enjoy it. There is also a vast selection of items made with local Kyo Yasai vegetables, and a wide range of sake that go perfectly with the food. There are menus in English, Chinese (traditional and simplified) and Korean. The average spend is 3,000 JPY.

3. kuukaisan

933 Higashi-shiokoji-cho, Nishinotoin-dori Shiokoji-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

4. San'ei

This is a restaurant that has handed down reliable flavors and techniques for over 80 years, ever since its establishment. Here, you can enjoy seasonal flavors in a convenient location, just one minute on foot from Kawaramachi Station. In the spring (March to April), they serve dishes made with takenoko. The takenoko that is procured every morning are from Tsukahara in the Nishiyama area of Kyoto. The chefs specifically selected the takenoko because it was the softest and had the deepest sweet flavors out of all of the takenoko they sampled. A popular dish is the Takenoko Manju no Ankake, where grated takenoko mixed with coarse rice powder​ is steamed, then deep fried and served with a thick starchy sauce. It is offered as a part of the Takenokozukushi Course (7,350 JPY) and the more reasonably priced lunch set, Takenoko Manjyu Gozen (3,150 JPY).

4. San'ei

319 Inari-cho, Kawara-machi Shijo-sagaru Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

5. Uoka

This is a historic ryotei in Oharano in Nishiyama, and was established in 1872. A wide selection of dishes made with takenoko are served in historic buildings, such as the annex (reservations required) that remains since the time the restaurant was founded. There are kaiseki courses (10,000 JPY and up (excl. tax and service charge)) that include takenoko served in a variety of different ways, such as sashimi, simmered, grilled, and as tempura, as well as the more reasonably priced Takenoko Bento (5,000 JPY (excl. tax and service charge))(available only on weekdays and national holidays). There are English menus as well as staff who speak English.

*The takenoko dishes are served only in April and May. *The images are for illustrative purposes only

5. Uoka

1262 Oharano Kamizato Kitano-cho, Nishigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

This time, we focused on restaurants that serve traditional Japanese cuisine. Be sure to refer to this article when dining 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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