Fathom Favorites : Kyoto Restaurants

1. Tenryuji Shigetsu

A reservation is necessary at this tatami mat restaurant inside Arashiyama's Tenryuji Temple. And you'll need a Japanese speaker to make it. But being able to eat shojin ryori (sophisticated vegetarian Buddhist cuisine) in such a serene setting is worth the extra work. 

68 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji
Kyoto, Ukyo-ku 616-8385

2. Izuju

Across the street from Yasaka Shrine on Shijo-dori (the main drag), this small century-old restaurant dishes out insane Kyoto-style sushi, which has a much higher rice-to-fish ratio and incorporates more cured fish (because the city historically had a hard time securing fresh stock). Everything on the menu is worth a try, but of particular note is hakozushi, a block of vinegar rice topped with mackerel, and inarizushi, rice and vegetables inside deep-fried tofu.

292 Gionmachi Kitagawa
Kyoto, Higashiyama-ku 605-0073

3. Honke Owariya

The oldest soba and buckwheat confectionary shop in town, dating back to 1465. The two-floor restaurant is famous (expect to wait) but not at all hectic — expect to hear no more than whispers and slurping. At the cashier, a pack of soba noodles make for a good souvenir, and a box of mochi will pull through as a solid afternoon snack. 

322 Niomontsukinukecho
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0841

4. Mizuki

Located in the Ritz Carlton, this Japanese restaurant showcases four traditional Japanese cuisines (kaiseki haute cuisine, sushi, tempura, and teppanyaki) in various settings. 

Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori
Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku 604-0902

5. Monk

Nordic-meets-California-cuisine served in a restaurant located along Philosopher's Walk, a favorite spot for viewing cherry blossoms. The fourteen-seat restaurant is just under six months old and reservations are a must. Yoshihiro Imai, the owner and chef, forages nearby farms and local markets for ingredients each morning to create artful four- and seven-course dinners. Request seats at the bar so you can watch him in action.

147 Jodoji Shimominamida-cho
Kyoto, Sakyo-ku 606-8404