Kichi Kichi, Kyoto’s famous Omu Rice


Located in one of the alleyways in Pontocho, is a small and cozy restaurant established since 1978 serving one of Kyoto’s best Omu rice.  It took us a while to find the restaurant even with the help of google maps. We went back and forth along Pontocho main street, trying to find the right alleyway. We got to the restaurant around 6:15 PM and there were already customers waiting outside the restaurant. The restaurant only has 8 counter seats and a table which can accommodate about 5 people.

I read about how popular this place was so I made a reservation in advance. You can make reservations 6 weeks in advance on their website. I emailed them to make a reservation because the date I wanted to make a reservation was not available on their website. I definitely recommend making a reservation especially for the counter seat, where you can watch the magic happen.

Other than their famous omu rice, Kichi Kichi also serves salad, soup, beef stew, casseroled chicken leg, and croquette. Since we were there for the omu rice, we ordered that and a potage soup of the day (¥ 650) and salad (¥1500). The omu rice comes in two sizes – standard (¥ 2700) and half size (¥ 1450). I think half size would be sufficient for the ladies. I ordered the standard and it was a little bit much me.

The potage soup of the day was creamy corn soup. It was creamy and light with a lovely smokey bacon flavor. The salad was lovely, not the usual western salad. It had assorted vegetables, drizzled with a light citrusy dressing. I love the array of colors of the ingredients.

Chef Yukimura Motokichi puts on quite a spectacular show for his customers. He knows people will be filming him making his famous omu rice. He will position himself in a direction where you are able to take pictures or film him. He definitely has skills! The way he tossed the rice up in the air and how he makes his omelet in the perfect shape every single time. Motokichi makes it look so easy.
To make the omu rice, Motokichi first prepares the fried rice. He adds chicken, onions, mushroom, green soybeans, and beef bouillion sauce to rice. Once the rice is cooked, it is placed in an ellipse shape mold on a plate. He subsequently prepares the omelet which is then placed on the rice. Motokichi makes a slit down the middle of the omelet, and the egg just wraps around the rice so elegantly. To complete the omu rice, Motokichi adds beef bouillion sauce. He does different tricks with the omelet. For the second omu rice dish, he threw the omelet up in the air and it landed on the rice, covering the rice perfectly: pretty impressive!

The omelet was smooth and fluffy. It was delicious eaten with the chicken fried rice. Compared to other omu rice prices, the prices here are a bit more expensive but I personally feel that it’s worth it. It is one of the best one I’ve had.

 

I highly recommend this restaurant. You will definitely have a great time and an enjoyable meal.

 

Kichi Kichi Omurice 

Website: http://kichi2.net/

Opening hours: Lunch ( Weekends and national holidays 12:00 PM to 14:00 PM), Dinner ( Monday to Sunday 17:00 PM to 21:00 PM)

Telephone: +81 75-211-1484

Address: 604-8017 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 材木町185-4

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Kishin Kitchen, an intimate culinary experience in Kyoto

 
I got to know about Kishin Kitchen as I was searching 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 for him 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 very 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 artist 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 to make 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. 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

Website: https://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

Sushitetsu, Pontocho

Sushitetsu is located on the first floor of the building next to the Pontocho kaburenjo theater. It was recommended by the receptionist in the hotel me and my brother was staying at. She said that both locals and foreigners dine there and the price is reasonable. After splashing quite a bit on more expensive meals the past two days, I am definitely looking forward to somewhere more low key and inexpensive.

There are both counter and horigotatsu seating. There are English menus with pictures. The menu has a variety of a la carte sushi, sushi rolls, assorted sashimi, tempura, cooked dishes, salads, and soup. The sushi chef takes your orders and makes the sushi in front of you. It is an enjoyable experience watching your food being prepared and served in front of you. The chef hands off each sushi right after it is prepared on bamboo leaves.

Each sushi dish (2 pieces) is ¥ 216 and the rolls are ¥ 540. We got the california roll, tamage (egg), ebi (shrimp), aburi nigiri (broiled salmon), uni (sea urchin), kanimi (crab meat),  shimaji-nigiri (yellow jack), Iwashi (sardine), maguro (tuna), and salmon. The sushi was delicious and the ingredients were fresh.

When we got our first batch of sushi, we looked for the wasabi and could not find any. Then when my brother ate his first piece of sushi, he noticed that the wasabi was between the topping and the rice. So all we had to do was dip the sushi in the soy sauce. Suprisingly each sushi had a sufficient amount of wasabi, at least for us it was.

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Do take note, that this restaurant allows smoking inside. I cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke, especially if the smoke is wafting towards me. This happened as I was enjoying the sushi. A customer next to me was smoking. As much as I would like to stay longer and order more sushi, I left right after finishing the remaining food.

All in all, this is a great sushi place with an excellent value for money.

 

Sushitetsu

Website: https://sushitetsu.owst.jp/

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 12:00PM to 11:30PM

Address: 〒604-8002 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Ishiyachō (Kiyamachidori), 先斗町通三条下る石屋町123

Musoshin ramen, Kyoto


Musoshin is just a stone’s throw away from Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple Kenninji. Like most ramen restaurants, it’s not very big. It has seating for 12.

This is my first encounter with average service in Kyoto. The atmosphere was cold and dull, the staff was expressionless half the time. The guy who greeted me though was helpful, he helped me with ordering the ramen from the ticket machine.

 

I had the musoshin ramen with egg (¥ 830). The soup is thicker and creamier than any ramen soup I have had. It is almost like the consistency of a stew. On their website, it states that the musoshin soup is creamy and thick because of the different vegetables used and dissolving in the process creating this thick broth. I am not sure if I liked the thick consistency. The noodles didn’t seem like it was cooked thoroughly and the egg was cold.

I honestly did not enjoy the ramen. However, it’s subjective. Many of the reviews online for this place were positive. So give it a try if you are in the neighborhood.

 

Musoshin

Website: http://www.washoku.com/zsr/musoshin/index_jp.html

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday ( 11:15 AM – 11:00 PM)

Telephone:+81 75-551-0345

Address: Japan, 〒605-0933 京都府京都市Higashiyama-ku, Komatsuchō, 東山区大和大路四条下ル小松町558-2

 

Café Blue Fir Tree, Kyoto

I stumbled upon this café as I was searching for a place to have breakfast near the vicinity of my hotel. The café is located along 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 have 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 seat in the middle of the counter, but for some reason, the younger staff insisted that I sat 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 a lot of 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 a little 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

Menya Takakura Nijo, Kyoto

Menya Takakura Nijo is a ramen restaurant off the beaten path in Kyoto. It is less than a 10-minute walk from the Karasuma Oike subway station. It is a cosy little eatery with 9 counter seats. Orders and payment are done through a ticket machine which is only available in Japanese. The staff are friendly, they will help translate. The inside is warm and clean with atmospheric jazz lounge music playing in the background. A very common music genre played in many of the restaurants in Kyoto.

 

I ordered the ramen with egg for ¥ 800. Before preparing the noodles, you are given a choice of either normal or whole wheat noodles. Both pork pieces and leek were grilled over a small charcoal grill. The pork was flavorful with a distinctive smokey flavor. The soup was a combination of tonkatsu and fish broth. It was thin and intense with a tinge of sourness.

The ramen was good, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea because of its unique flavor. My brother who was with me absolutely loved the ramen! He said it was one of his best meal in Kyoto.

If you are looking for a place where is less touristy and more local, this would be a good place.

 

 

 

Menya Takakura Nijo

Website: http://www.takakura-nijo.jp/

Opening hours: Weekdays 11:00AM – 10:00 PM, Weekends 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Telephone: +81 75-255-9575

Address: 64-1 Kannoncho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Itoh Dining by Nobu, Hakone

 

Itoh dining is a Teppanyaki restaurant in Gora, Hakone. It is stated on their website that the restaurant is in collaboration with chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa who is a Japanese celebrity chef and restaurateur.

From the reviews I read about the restaurant, it seemed like a popular restaurant. I wanted a counter seat so I made reservations two weeks in advance. Upon entering, I was greeted with a warm welcome by a lady staff. The same lady also served my food and introduced each dish to me.

The only downside was that the room was smokey from the cooking. I’m not sure if it was usually like that, or that the ventilation system was not working well that day.

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There are lunch and dinner sets, and ala carte available. I decided on the Kuroge Wagyu Steak Lunch for ¥ 3,780 including tax. The set includes a soup, seasonal salad, A4 Kuroge Wagyu Steak, bread or rice, pasta, dessert, and coffee. For those who are not familiar, A4 is the grading for the Wagyu beef, with A5 being the highest.

My meal started off with a mushroom soup followed by a seasonal salad with sweet potato. Next, was the much anticipated Kuroge beef. As I was seated at the counter, I was able to watch the chef prepare the dish on the iron plate. The young chef first smeared the steak on both sides, then took it aside to the non-heated area of the iron plate, cut it into cubes, and placed back onto the heated area to cook the beef further as I requested for my steak to be well done. The beef was served nestled in black pepper sauce and garnished with thin garlic chips, accompanied with a bowl of rice (there is the option of rice or bread). I now understand the hype about Wagyu beef. The beef was juicy, tender, and melts in your mouth! There is no other beef like it! The garlic chips added a nice pungent and nutty flavor to the meat.

Next, I was served pasta with leek, beansprout, and small cubes of beef which was also cooked on the iron plate. The taste kind of reminds me of Aglio e Olio. Lastly, I had a matcha pudding for dessert followed by a cup of earl grey tea.

 

If you are in the area, this restaurant is definitely worth a visit!

 

Itoh Dining by Nobu

Website: http://itoh-dining.co.jp/hakone/index.html

Opening hours: 11:30AM – 15:00PM (Lunch), 17:00PM- 21:30PM (Dinner)

Telephone:+81 460-83-8209

Address: 1300-64 Gōra, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0408, Japan

Bakery & Table, Hakone

 

Bakery & Table is a cafe/ restaurant situated along the shores of the beautiful Lake Ashi.  The ground floor is the take-out bakery. There are varieties of bread and cakes, jams, dips, sauces, and drinks. There are also chairs and tables both inside and outside available.  The first floor is the cafe, where one can order drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The restaurant is located on the second floor. Here you can order fancy sandwiches, crepes, beef dishes, and desserts.

All three floors offer a beautiful view of the lake. There is an elevator in the building, which is great for people with luggage.

I arrived at the lake around 2pm and decided to have lunch first then head over to the hotel. I thought I’d have coffee and a simple sandwich at the cafe. When I got to the cafe, it was packed. So I made my way up to the restaurant and there were plenty of seats available. I was able to get a counter seat facing the lake. The view was stunning!

 

I ordered the beef tendon and seasonal vegetable baked curry rice with cheese topping (¥ 2,600). It was my first time tasting Japanese curry in Japan and I have to say, this dish blew me away. It was absolutely scrumptious!  The curry had a lovely aroma. It tastes kind of like an English stew with curry. It was creamy, buttery, cheesy and savory. I liked that this dish had a variety of vegetables, which is hard to come by in Japan. There was shitake mushroom, avocado, broccoli, carrot, capsicum, and  The portion was quite big, I savored every bite.

 

 

 

 

 

Bakery & Table

Website: http://www.bthjapan.com/hakone.php

Opening hours: 8:30AM to 6PM

Telephone: +81 460-85-1530

Address: 

Katsukura, Kyoto

Katsura is a restaurant specializing in tonkatsu.  There are multiple branches in Kyoto. I went to the Shijo Teramachi branch. There are counter seating on the top floor and table seating on the lower floor.

Katsukura prides themselves on using high-quality pork and ingredients.

There are three categories of zen-sets (Sangen pork tonkatsu, tonkatsu, and assorted) and a la carte option on the menu. All pork zen-sets come in 3 sizes (80g, 120g, and 160g) and each zen set comes with barley rice and miso soup.

There are 3 pots of sauce on each table. I was given a bowl of white sesame seeds which I had to grind with the given wooden pestle before adding the desired sauce, and an information sheet of each sauce. One pot contains the yuzu (citrus) dressing for the shredded cabbage, and the other two pots contain two kinds of tonkatsu sauce, one milder and the other stronger.

I ordered the Sangen pork premium loin cutlet zen-set. It cost 1,300 yen for the 80g cutlet.The pork was crispy and fluffy on the outside and succulent on the inside. The pork itself had a natural sweetness to it, and it did not have the so -called “pork” taste. The tonkatsu sauce accentuated the taste of the pork, giving it a lovely sweet flavor, it was delicious! The 80g size was perfect for me.

The shredded cabbage with the yuzu dressing was refreshing, a perfect accompaniment to the deep-fried dish.

The rice, cabbage, and soup are unlimited so you can ask for as many refills as you like.

If you are looking for a good Tonkatsu place with good quality pork in Kyoto, I highly recommend this place.

 

 

Katsukura Shijo Teramachi

Website: http://www.katsukura.jp/

Opening hours: 11am to 10pm (Monday to Sunday)

Telephone: +81 75-221-5261

Address: 604-8042 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Higashidaimonjichō, 寺町通四条上ル

 

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 map and this cafe caught my eye. The cafe is under the long-running confectionery shop “Kagizen Yoshimura”, which was 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 which 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. It cost 1,200 yen for both. The staff was warm and friendly. There is an English menu available with pictures of each of the dessert. The menu is limited, it only had 4 types of desserts available. Apparently, the confectioneries on the menu changes according to the season.

The kuzu Mochi was soft and had a jelly-like texture. I like that the syrup and soybean flour came separately, allowing me to add it as to my liking.

I would definitely recommend this cafe, not only to enjoy good Japanese confectionery but also to 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