Funatsuru, Kyoto style French restaurant

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Funatsuru is a Kyoto style French restaurant set along the Kamo River with views of the Higashiyama mountains with close to 150 years of history. The building itself was built almost 100 years ago. You can read about the history of this restaurant here.

I made a reservation for a window seat. At the time of making the reservation, the staff could not guarantee a window seat for me but will try their best. We were fortunate on the day of our arrival that we were given a window seat. The view was beautiful – The river, mountain, and sky. The staff who greeted us was graceful and pleasant. She could speak decent English.

There are two different lunch courses. One is for ¥ 3,000 which includes a hors d’oeuvre, soup, main dish, dessert, bread, coffee or black tea. The other is for ¥ 4,500 which includes a hors d’oeuvre, soup, a fish dish, a meat dish, dessert, bread, coffee or black tea. We decided on the ¥ 4,500 lunch course.

I did not take a picture of the menu so I don’t know the names of the dishes or what exact ingredients were used in the dish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The course started with a turkey mushroom pate followed by a soup. The soup was very interesting. It tasted like a saltish very mild cafe latte with cocoa nibs. The waitress did describe that it was some kind of coffee soup.
Next, we had the flounder wrapped in pie pastry. I love this dish! The flavors in this dish were mindblowing. The fish was cooked to perfection. The buttery flaky crust accentuated the natural flavor of the fish. The tomato-based sauce further boosts the already delicious flavor of the pie. Even till now I can remember the flavor. A very memorable dish!
We had the duck with apple and root vegetable sauce next and lastly a white chocolate cream cheesecake.
I really enjoyed the food. Each one was delectable and beautifully presented. I would recommend this restaurant for the food. However, it was really loud in the restaurant, probably the loudest restaurant I have been to in Japan. Most of the customers were rich middle-aged women and they were talking pretty loud. I did not enjoy that. Lucky for us, we got there around 1 PM and the noise began to subside half an hour later as some were finished with lunch and left. The last order for lunch at the restaurant is 2PM.




Opening hours: 12 PM to 22:00 PM (closed on Tuesdays)

Telephone: +81 75-351-8541

Address: 180 Minoyacho, Kiyamachidouri Matsubara-Agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto




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 are not as adventurous (like myself). The food served at Gion Karyo is nothing too alien or unique to the taste buds. If you have any food restrictions or allergies, you can let them know 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, 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.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

The highlight for me was the dessert and coffee. For dessert, I had some kind of 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


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


Gontaro, Kyoto

Gontaro is a famous udon noodle restaurant in Kyoto. There are three branches in Kyoto. I went to the main branch which is located downtown on Fuyacho Dori, between Nishiki market and Shijo Dori.

The restaurant had a Kyoto machiya style exterior with a stone path leading to an automatic sliding shoji door. The interior is decorated in Sukiya-zukuri architectural style, a style common in many of the Japanese tea houses; creating a tranquil ambiance. There was only one waitress dressed in Kimono. She did not speak much English but she could understand some of the things I said. She was nice and had a smile on her face the whole time.

The restaurant offers a variety of Soba and Udon noodles with some side dishes. The prices are reasonable. There is also English menu available.

As I was really craving for fish, I ordered the Nishin udon (¥ 1200), a Kyoto specialty. It is basically a piece of dried herring placed on top of the udon. At the time, I did not know it was dried herring. On the menu, it stated sweet stewed herring. The soup was very good but I did not like the herring. It was dry and chewy. I guess I was not used to eating dried fish.

If you are in the area, this is a good place for Soba and Udon noodles.




Opening hours: Monday to Sunday except Wednesday 11:00 AM to 21:00 PM

Telephone: +81 75-221-5810

Address: 604-8053 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 麸屋町通四条上ル



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 


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


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.




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



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


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


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


My first meal in Kyoto

image via google maps
image via google maps



My first meal in Kyoto was dinner at this small homey Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) restaurant on Sanjo-jingu-michi. The owners were two lovely elderly couple.  The menu was simple with a variety of Okonomiyaki, noodles, and stir fried dishes. There is no English menu available. Luckily, my sister could read and speak Japanese.

My sister and I were tired after a day of traveling, so we did not order too much. We ordered a stir-fry vegetable, fried kimchi udon noodle, and a seafood Okonomiyaki. The fried kimchi udon noodle was better than I expected.  It was a mixture of sweet, salty and sour (from the kimchi).  The pork slices in the fried udon were especially tender and savory, it had absorbed all the different flavors.

It was our first time having Okonomiyaki. It was intriguing watching the man make it. We were full of anticipation. When the Okonomiyaki was placed in front of us, we were as if two children who could not wait to dig into a bowl of cookies. 🙂

I could only taste the sweetness of the Okonomiyaki sauce on my first bite, but as I ate on, the other flavors (the vegetables, egg, shrimp, and squid) began to present itself. It was a savory pancake indeed and also very filling!

This is a good place to eat if you are in the area and looking for something less commercial.




Nishiki market, Kyoto

Nishiki Market is a four-hundred-year-old market. It has both modern and traditional shops selling fresh seafood, vegetables, souvenirs, local sweets, pickled vegetables, popular local food and etc. The market is very clean and packed with locals and tourists. It is a great place to explore local produce and savor Kyoto specialties. It is definitely worth visiting.

One of my favorite store at the market is the Aritsugu knife shop.  They are one of the oldest and most famous knife makers in Japan.The knife selection was impressive and amazing handiwork. You can even have your initials carved onto the knife. A household kitchen knife would cost around 10,000 yen. They also sell other cutting tools such as scissors, pots, and pans. I regretted not buying a knife when I was there. I will put that on my list of things to buy on my next trip.



Sukiyaki, Gion, Kyoto

After a long day strolling around 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 floor 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. Prior to 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 Noen Coffee shop.