Gion Karyo, Kyoto

Set in an old Kyoto house, Gion Karyo is a kaiseki restaurant located in the heart of Gion.  It is a great kaiseki place for people who are not as familiar with Japanese cuisine or not adventurous (like myself). The food served at Gion Karyo is nothing bizarre or unique to the taste buds. If you have any food restrictions or allergies, you can inform them in advance, and they will prepare your food accordingly.  The staff speaks sufficient English, and there are English menus available.

The interior decorations were simple, with not much ambiance.

 

 

I made reservations in advance. When you are presented to your seat, there will be a menu ready on the table. The price for the lunch course is ¥ 5000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The dishes were beautifully presented. However, for me, it lacked taste. Most of the dishes tasted similar and were a little bland. There was no wow factor for me.

The highlight for me was the dessert and coffee. For dessert, I had some matcha arrowroot dessert accompanied with ice cream and caramel cake. My brother had the Crème brûlée. The matcha arrowroot dessert tasted like matcha jelly with evaporated milk and soybean flour – very fragrant.

Overall, the food was basic and average, especially for the price. But it is definitely a foreigner-friendly restaurant.

 

Gion Karyo

Websitehttp://www.karyo-kyoto.jp/gion/

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30 Am to 8 PM

Telephone: +81 75-532-0025

Address: 605-0074 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Gionmachi Minamigawa, 東山区祇園町南側570-235

 

Kishin Kitchen, an intimate culinary experience in Kyoto

 
I got to know about Kishin Kitchen as I searched through google for a place to have breakfast. This place was on the list, and the reviews were positive. As my brother will be accompanying me on this trip, and it is his first trip to Japan, I thought it would be nice to try a Japanese-style breakfast.
Kishin Kitchen is attached to the Hana-Touro Hotel in Gion. The interior gave me the impression of a dining and kitchen area in a house. It had a warm and homey feel. The staff was welcoming and friendly. Two of them spoke good English.
The restaurant offers their signature breakfast for ¥ 2,500.  The breakfast includes a starter, white rice, and a choice of soup. The meals were prepared by a young chef. He gave an explanation of each dish after it is served.
We had kumiage-yuba, a cold soy skin dish as a starter. The texture was delicate with a refined taste. It tastes like cold soy milk with a hint of saltiness. I, however, was not too fond of the texture.
Before serving the rice and soup, we were asked to choose one out of five handmade bowls by different Japanese artists for the rice. They first served us about a tablespoon of ‘almost’ cooked rice to taste. One of the staff explained that the rice has a different flavor and taste before it is completely cooked. It had a stickier texture. The rice was cooked in a donabe, which is a special Japanese ceramic pot. We were then each served a small portion of rice. You can ask for refills.
The white Miso soup was one of the best I’ve had. The soup had a rich milky pork stock, with a subtle Miso taste, garnished with thinly sliced scallions and a small dollop of mustard.
After everyone was finished with their rice and soup, they served us some scorched rice with a pinch of salt to taste. It was fragrant and delicious, kind of like salty rice crackers.

 

We were served the pickles and Charcoal-grilled Maruboshi Sardine along with the rice and soup. The sardines were a little salty, which went great with the rice.

There weren’t many customers when we were there, but I do recommend making a reservation. When you make a reservation, you are asked to choose a time slot. There are five different time slots available each day; each time slot is an hour and 20 minutes. So do be punctual, we were 10 minutes late, and the other customers had to wait for us before they begin serving the meal.

Though the meal was simple, I had a very memorable and intimate dining experience here. This is probably the first time that I paid attention to every bite, savoring every subtle flavor of the food.  Every aspect, from service to ingredients to preparation of food, was done with care.  I look forward to my next visit.  I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to taste high-quality local Kyoto cuisine.

 

Kishin Kitchen

Websitehttps://www.kishin.world/

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday,  7:30 AM – 12 AM

Telephone: +81 75-525-8500

Address: 555-2 Komatsuchō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0811, Japan

Café Blue Fir Tree, Kyoto

I stumbled upon this café as I searched for a place to have breakfast near the vicinity of my hotel. The café is located in one of the alleyways in the Gion district. They are famous for their thick, fluffy hotcakes.

The interior has a rustic feel with a laid-back and cozy atmosphere. There was two lady staff. I was the first customer that morning. The younger one greeted me and showed me to a counter seat at the end of the counter. After I sat down, I realized I had forgotten my purse. I excused myself and ran back to the hotel to get it. When I got back, there were 3 customers seated at the very end of the counter. I asked if I could sit in the middle of the counter, but for some reason, the younger staff insisted that I sit at the end of the counter. I was not too happy about that. There wasn’t anyone else in the café.

 

Initially, I wanted to order the hot cake, but as I was going to meet someone later, I did not have much time. The hotcake takes 20 minutes to cook. Instead, I ordered the french toast (¥500) with earl grey tea (¥300). There is also savory french toast available.
The french toast came in a hot cast iron pan, lightly coated with powdered sugar and a dollop of cream. The french toast was fluffy, moist, and slightly crusty on the outside. It was lovely! I would definitely come back for more.

 

*The picture on the right is the hot cake. The customer next to me ordered it.

 

 

 

 

Café Blue Fir Tree

Website: http://www.cafebluefirtree.com/

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 7PM

Telephone: +81 75-541-1183

Address: Japan, 〒605-0802 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Yamatochō, 大和大路通四条下ル大和町6-1, モア祇園 1F

Zen Cafe, Kyoto

I was looking for a cafe near my hotel in the Gion district to have Japanese dessert and tea. I was browsing through Google Maps and this cafe caught my eye. The cafe is under the long-running confectionery shop “Kagizen Yoshimura,” established during the Edo period. I missed the chance to try the dessert at the Kagizen main store the last time I was in Kyoto. I’m not about to miss that chance again. The café was located just behind my hotel (Kyoto Granbell Hotel). From the pictures, the atmosphere looked serene, an ideal place to relax.

The cafe is located in a modern minimalist building in one of the alleyways in Gion. The interior was modernly decorated with some Japanese touches. There is a small Japanese garden inside the cafe, with counter-seats available facing the garden. There are two spaces with shelves stocked with books for those who want to have some alone time to read and enjoy the food. There is also a semi-private space that can accommodate 4 people.

It’s a good place to have a break from the crowd. Definitely what I needed after spending days with crowds of people.

I ordered the café’s signature dessert, “Kuzu Mochi” and hojicha (1200 yen). Kuzumochi is a mochi made from arrowroot powder. The staff was warm and friendly. There is an English menu available with pictures of each dessert. The menu is limited; it only had 4 types of desserts available. Apparently, the confectioneries on the menu change according to the season.

The Kuzu Mochi is served with kinako (soybean flour) and kuromitsu  (black sugar syrup). I like that the black sugar syrup and soybean flour came separately, allowing me to add them to my liking. The mochi was soft with a jelly-like texture. The sweetness of the syrup and the subtle nutty flavor of the soybean flour complemented the mochi well. The hojicha and mochi were a great pairing.

I would definitely recommend this cafe, not only to enjoy good Japanese confectionery but also for those who need some ‘zen.’ 🙂

 

Zen Cafe

Website: http://www.kagizen.co.jp/store/#zenCafe

Opening hours: 11am to 6pm (except Monday, if Monday is a national holiday, the store will be closed the following day)

Telephone: +81(0)75-533-8686

Address: 570-210 Gion-machi Minami-gawa Hana-machi, Higashi-yama-ku, Kyoto

Sukiyaki, Gion, Kyoto

After a long day strolling around the Gion district, my sister and I settled down at the Doishibadukehompo (土井志ば漬本舗京都駅ポルタ店) restaurant for some sukiyaki. This restaurant has three floors. The first floor is a pickle store selling all sorts of Japanese pickles. The second and third floors are for dining.

Sukiyaki is a popular Japanese hot pot dish. It usually consists of thin slices of beef, tofu, mushrooms, scallion, vegetables, and jelly noodles. Before writing about sukiyaki, I didn’t know that one was supposed to beat the egg and dip the cooked food into the raw egg. My sister, who studied the Japanese language and some of its culture, told me to crack the egg into the pot. So I took her word and did exactly that. Regardless, it was a good meal.  The sukiyaki cost 1450yen per set.

Doshibadukehompo is located along Shijo Dori right next to Noen Coffee shop. The map below shows the location of the Noen Coffee shop.

Kagizen Yoshifusa, Gion, Kyoto

image via
image via http://www.kagizen.co.jp/en/store/

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Kagizen Yoshifusa is a long-established sweet shop in Kyoto making Kyogashi (Kyoto sweets).  The interior is furnished with old-style furniture and wood panels –
very vintage.  All confectioneries are beautifully handcrafted.


There is also a cafe at the Gion branch offering a simple menu consisting of Matcha, mochi, Japanese cake, and their house specialty, “Kuzukiri,” which is noodles made from kudzu starch served with brown sugar syrup.

 

Kagizen Yoshifusa

Website: https://www.kagizen.co.jp/en/

Opening hours: Daily 9:30 a.m. – 18:00 p.m., close on Mondays

Telephone: +81 0755611818

Address: 264 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan