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1. KYOTO KITCHO (京都 吉兆 嵐山本店)
This is the one place that you must go to for a once-in-a-lifetime Japanese fine dining experience, and not only because it has 3 Michelin stars in the 2014 Kansai guide but it is also “the” place that a lot of foreign tourists take the trouble to head to. Come and enjoy the best of the best Japanese dining service here. The chef and his staff here give their very best in creating beautiful and delicious masterpieces. Each dish is served at its best temperature and at the right time. While dining, you can also take in the beautiful views of the Japanese garden from a nearby window.
HP: www.kitcho.com/kyoto/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 58 Sagatenryuji, Susukinobabacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
2. Hyotei (瓢亭 本店)
This fine dining place first started off as a simple tea house 400 years ago for temple worshippers or visitors to take a break. It slowly built its repertoire as a fine dining restaurant and has made a name for itself now. It is popular in the world of literature and politics. All your senses will be greatly satisfied here not only through the fine food that they serve but from the ambience of the dining hall to the beautiful garden with its Koi fishes. Hyotei is truly rich in history and culture.
HP: hyotei.co.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 35 Nanzenji Kusagawacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
3. Hafuu (はふう 本店)
For those who are craving for beef, this is the place to head to because they are the best of the best here in Kyoto and they are well known for serving the most scrumptious beef cutlets and steak! The most popular item on their menu would have to be their beef cutlet sandwiches. The staff here will make you feel welcomed as they are fluent in English. You’ll get to see the chef prepare your food in front of you too. If you are on a budget, lunch would be the better option as their lunch meals are around USD 50. Dinner will start from USD 50 and could go up to USD 100. However, just from the quality of beef that they are serving, their prices are truly a steal.
HP: hafuu.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 471-1 Sasayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
4. Sojiki Nakahigashi (草喰 なかひがし)
This little gem is found along the way to Ginkaku-ji. It is super famous and popular that it may take you many months to finally reserve a seat for yourself. There are many locals from outside of Kyoto that take all the effort and time to come here to have a taste of what the kitchen has to offer. The chef comes up with creative ways to showcase local produce through the seasons. Simple but divine and it will help you appreciate what mother nature has to offer.
HP: www.kyo-ryori.com/shop.php?s=43 (Japanese Only)
Address: 32-3 Jodoji Ishibashicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
5. Okazaki Tsuruya (岡崎つる家)
This famous restaurant close to Heian Shrine has been around since 1928. Many famous authors and politicians would come here to satisfy their palettes. The grounds cover about 3300m2 and the building itself takes up 400m2 . The landscape here is simply gorgeous. Besides local famous people, this restaurant has ever served international figures like Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, the late Princess Diana, former President Bush and former Soviet statesman, Mikhail Gorbachev.
HP: www.kyoto-tsuruya.co.jp/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 30 Okazaki Higashi Tennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
6. Shimogamo Saryo (下鴨茶寮)
This fine dining place has a long history that spans from 1856. For an authentic Japanese fine dining and hospitality experience, you’ll have to make reservations here. You can truly look forward to the masterpieces here that highlights local seasonal produce. When you arrive at the restaurant, beautiful Maikos will serve you green tea before your meal begins.
HP: www.shimogamosaryo.co.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 62 Shimogamo Miyagawacho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
7. Kikunoi (菊乃井 本店)
City Foodsters/Flickr City Foodsters/Flickr
Kikunoi started all the way back in 1912 and it was awarded 3 stars in the 2014 Michelin Guide, Kansai edition. It is recognized as one of the few fine dining places that truly captures the essence of Japan. Kikunoi will not only fill your belly with really good food but its customer service will warm your soul. This is one restaurant not to be missed.
HP: kikunoi.jp/chinese/index.html (Chinese)
HP: kikunoi.jp/ (Japanese)
Address: 459 Shimokawaracho, Yasakatoriimaesagaru, Shimokawaradori, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
8. Manjiro (萬治郎)
Manjiro with its 120 years of history as a local Japanese inn is tucked in a beautiful serene place with beautiful cobblestone pavements. Here you will get to satisfy your taste buds with authentic Kyoto fine dining. For those who have always been fascinated with the Geisha and Maiko culture, you can come here an experience their performances for around USD 400 if you order their meals that are priced above USD 100.
HP: www.kyoto-manjiro.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 518, Washiocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
9. Yuzuya Hotel Isshinkyo (柚子屋旅館 一心居)
There is a Japanese inn in Gion that houses a wonderful Japanese fine dining restaurant. This restaurant is not only open to serve the best seasonal dishes to their inn’s guests but also to other patrons. Come and experience Kyoto’s rich culture here as there are also Geisha and Maiko’s performances available. The inn also has unbeatable offers on their accommodation and meal plans.
HP: yuzuyaryokan.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 545 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
10. Gion Hanasaki (祇園 京料理 花咲)
This fine dining restaurant is housed in a real Machiya townhouse building. Here you will get to satisfy your tummy with authentic Kyoto dishes. If your budget permits, you could also experience their Geisha and Maiko performance with your friends or family. Geisha and Maiko performances are only available for group patrons though. The performance fee is a fixed rate, so the bigger your group, the cheaper it will be per person. We recommend this place for a night of good food and authentic Japanese cultural experience.
HP: www.gion-hanasaki.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 570-17 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
11. Gion Kurashita (祇園 くらした)
This is also another gem tucked in Gion and here you’ll get to try Kyoto fine dining and tofu dishes. You can come here solo, with a date or in a group to celebrate a special occasion as there are counter seats, private rooms and Japanese dining style seats for groups. There are meal plans that include an all-you-can-drink option and also Geisha and Maiko performances at a fee.
HP: www.gion-kurashita.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 570-157 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
12. CHIMOTO (京料理 ちもと)
CHIMOTO started in 1718 and is really popular among writers for its food and ambience. Located by the famous Kamogawa river, this restaurant will delight you all year round with their seasonal menus that showcase the local produce here. There are private rooms here with windows that guarantee you a beautiful view of Higashiyama. Come here for food that are too beautiful to eat and for the best service in town.
HP: chimoto.jp (Japanese Only)
Address: Shijosagaru, Saisekidori, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
13. Saiseki Chimoto (彩席ちもと)
This place welcomes solo patrons. Try Japan’s finest food alone without having to feel awkward that you are dining solo at the country’s best fine dining place, which also happens to be a sister shop of CHIMOTO.
HP: chimoto.jp/saiseki/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Shijoohashi Nishizume, Nishiishigaki Shijodori Kudaru, Simogyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
14. Nakamura (なかむら)
One of the reasons why people rave about the food here is because they are known for using the best and the freshest food in the whole country. Every dish that comes out from the kitchen is a piece of masterpiece that showcases each ingredient perfectly without being too overwhelming. For authentic Japanese fine dining that hasn’t been tainted by any modern fusion hype, you must come to Nakamura then. There are private rooms here and rooms big enough to cater to big groups. There is also a tea room here for tea ceremonies.
HP: www.kyoryori-nakamura.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Oikesagaru, Tominokoji, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)
15. Kichisen (京懐石 吉泉)
Kichisen was recently awarded with 3 Michelin stars in their 2015 guide. Located near Shimogawa, the food here captures the changing seasons in Japan’s most historical and beautiful city the best. Each dish that comes out will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each single ingredient is treated with care and you’ll be impressed with the perfect symphony of each bite offers. Kichisen is where to go for an unforgettable dining experience.
HP: www.kichisen-kyoto.com (Japanese Only)
Address: 5 Tadasunomori (Morimotocho), Shimogamo, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (Google Map)