Top 20 Japanese Machiya Restaurants in Kyoto to Experience Traditional Japan
Machiya are traditional Japanese wooden townhouses that brim with antique charm and give the Kyoto streetscapes their traditional feel. There are many machiya that now house restaurants where you can feel the essence of Japan as you enjoy traditional local food. In this article, we will introduce some of the best Japanese restaurants found in Kyoto's machiya. There are many to choose from, so read on to check out our recommendations of 20 of the best machiya restaurants in Kyoto.
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Kyoto Machiya Restaurants Serving Delicious Japanese Cuisine
AWOMB is a Japanese-style restaurant that is so popular it is said to have the longest line in Kyoto. Even more famous is its lovely sushi, which is called teori (handwoven) sushi. Many visitors to Kyoto want to try this sushi no matter how long the line is!
You eat teori sushi by wrapping the ingredients like seasonal fish and Kyoto-style home cooked ingredients in nori (seaweed) sheets yourself. This is highly recommended for visitors from overseas who really want to experience Japan. The appearance of the sushi is so incredibly beautiful it might seem like a shame to eat it! The stylish appearance also makes this the perfect place to meet up with friends, and it would make for a great Instagram post, too. You should brave the lines and try teori sushi at least once!
YURURI is a very stylish Japanese restaurant designed with a Hawaiian style on its first floor and an Asian style on its second floor. Here you can enjoy A5 grade Kyoto beef and local seafood at a reasonable price. YURURI is also equipped with private rooms, making this the perfect location for a date or private dinner party. These private rooms are also a good choice for families with young children.
Their Girls Party plan includes a set menu with a strawberry champagne aperitif, which is sure to please anyone who likes cute things. They also offer wine at 700 yen a glass, so you can enjoy a Japanese meal in style at an affordable price. Why not take your time at this fashionable restaurant to enjoy some Japanese cuisine and a few drinks?
3. Machiya Kappo Misen
If you're after superb Japanese cuisine in a relaxed and stylish atmosphere, Machiya Kappo Misen is highly recommended. Here you can look out at the illuminated courtyard and feel the essence of Japan as you enjoy a Japanese meal. There are various seating options here, including table seating where you can enjoy your meal as you look out at the courtyard, private rooms that are great for a date or business dinner, and loft seating, which is perfect for gatherings with friends.
Machiya Kappo Misen is passionate about the quality of their Japanese cuisine as well as its presentation, so you'll enjoy both the flavor and appearance of each carefully-plated dish. The restaurant's exterior also makes for a great photo to post on social media. This Japanese restaurant is recommended for tourists who want to enjoy Japanese cuisine, or for anyone looking for a fun meal out with a date or friends.
4. Wa Machiya Gohan Soil♯
Wa Machiya Gohan Soil is a restaurant where you can enjoy stylish and creative Japanese food that treasures the spirit of Japanese cuisine while introducing Western accents. You can enjoy meals made with fresh organic vegetables and seasonal Kyoto fish here. Each dish is carefully prepared and presented just like a work of art. They offer a range of dishes that are satisfying even just to look at.
There is also a wide variety of delicious alcoholic beverages to enjoy here, from refined sake from regions such as Kyoto, Yamagata, and Iwate to specialty wines. You can also BYO here, so you can bring a good bottle of wine to enjoy for an anniversary or to treat a special person. Why not come for a special occasion and create some memories here?
5. Kyoto Ayanokoji Mangetsu no Hana
Kyoto Ayanokoji Mangetsu no Hana is a restaurant where you can enjoy matcha green tea sweets and lunch created with ingredients from Kyoto and its neighboring prefectures. Each matcha dessert featuring aromatic green tea from Wazuka in Kyoto Prefecture is exquisite. You can also enjoy specialty desserts such as homemade, soft and springy shirotama (rice flour dumplings), and tsubuan (coarse sweet red bean paste), which has been cooked to perfection. The lunch menu changes on a daily basis, so you can keep coming back to enjoy new Kyoto flavors.
Japanese cultural workshops are also available, including a fun and elegant matcha (powdered green tea) and wagashi (Japanese sweets) experience, making Kyoto cuisine and temari sushi (colorful ball-shaped sushi), learning Kyoto-style home cooking, and wagashi-making. This is a restaurant with many ways to have fun for travellers looking to experience Kyoto culture, couples on a date, or those with young children.
6. Kyo Machiya Dining Kaede
Kyo Machiya Dining Kaede is a restaurant where you can fully experience the flavors of Kyoto. Based around the concept of locally-sourced food, Kaede serves dishes created using only fresh Kyoto ingredients. There is a wide drinks menu, which is indispensable to a good meal, that focuses mainly on sake. These drinks pair perfectly with the chicken, fish and locally cultivated vegetables. It's also popular for its low prices and relaxed setting, which makes it great for a meal on the way home from work or with family on your day off.
The locally sourced tanba kudori chicken is highly recommended. With its characteristic high quality fat and deep body of flavor, this tanba kudori is truly excellent. Dishes such as the seafood carpaccio and salad made with local kyo-yasai (Kyoto heirloom vegetables) are also very popular. Seating options include counter seating, private rooms, and tatami rooms, so this restaurant is also great for dates or family gatherings.
7. Kyo Machiya Obanzai Kohaku
Kyo Machiya Obanzai Kohaku is a warm and friendly restaurant where the female sake sommelier and restaurant manager, the female head chef and organic dining sommelier, and the charming, friendly staff will take care of you with famous Kyoto hospitality. At the counter you can see the dishes being prepared right before your eyes, so this is highly recommended for those who have an interest in obanzai, which is Kyoto's home-style cuisine made from local ingredients. The restaurant has a classic Japanese atmosphere unique to Kyoto.
The creative dishes, created from seasonal ingredients with a pinch of Kyoto's essence, are wonderful. The second floor consists of tatami room seating for 28, while downstairs has table seating for 12, so this restaurant is great for all sorts of social gatherings. Why not come here to enjoy obanzai cuisine as you sip sake chosen for you by the sake expert manager?
8. Kyo Machiya Gohan Takasegawa Qulio
The concept behind the Japanese restaurant Kyo Machiya Gohan Takasegawa Qulio is, "a time for delicious food and relaxation". This restaurant serves meals with delicious flavors that are somewhat different from other restaurants. This unique style is created not only through the ingredients and their production areas, but also the precise recipes and cooking methods used.
One of their specialties is homemade tofu, which is eaten with rock salt and soy sauce. This tofu is a masterpiece made from rich soy milk and good quality nigari (concentrated salt solution). The green onion tofu topped with plenty of Kyoto Kujo green onions is also highly recommended.
The Green Onion Yuzu Zosui (rice soup), containing an entire yuzu citrus fruit, is a splendid dish that you can't try anywhere else. The combination of healthy green onion and fragrant yuzu is a flavor you can only experience here. You can also enjoy a range of hot pot dishes here, making it perfect for families, dates, or gatherings with friends. Why not give your body and soul a dose of warmth with one of these exquisite hot pot dishes?
9. Yanaginobanba BANSAN Kyoiro
Yanaginobanba BANSAN Kyoiro is a Japanese-style restaurant hidden away in the back alleys off Yanaginobanba Street. The narrow street leading up to the restaurant entrance creates a fantastic atmosphere like something out of a Studio Ghibli movie.
In addition to counter seating, there is a tatami room that can seat a maximum of 20 people, and sunken kotatsu (table heater) seating from which you can look out at the restaurant's own garden, making this a perfect spot for group dining.
Their specialty is chargrilled skewers cooked over high-grade charcoal. The extravagant yakitori (chicken skewers) made from local chicken from Nanatani in Kyoto Prefecture is a popular dish. Dishes such as chargrilled Kyoto Wagyu offal and dishes made from carefully-chosen fresh vegetables from the Kyoto Tanba area are also popular. They also stock seasonal sake that pairs perfectly with the dishes, which is sure to liven up your drinking party or girls' night out. Why not take a detour down this back alley and enjoy some fantastic Japanese cuisine?
10. Chisou Inaseya
Chisou Inaseya is a popular Japanese-style restaurant that caters to all kinds of customers, from solo diners to large groups. Inside the restaurant there is relaxed counter seating where you can enjoy specialty Japanese cooking in a comfortable space. Guests can also choose to be seated at a table, in a tatami room, or even the cellar area, making this a great venue for important work events or anniversaries.
There is also a large menu of unprocessed sake varieties. Recommended among these is the Yuiitsu Muni, which is exclusive to Chisou Inaseya. It's sold in small quantities, so this is one sake you have to try when you visit this restaurant. Come indulge in the "ultimate flavor" that has been attained through the owner of Inaseya's refusal to compromise on quality.
Top Kyoto Machiya Japanese-style Restaurants Off the Beaten Path
1. Teppanyaki Dining GARYU
Teppanyaki Dining GARYU is a restaurant bar located in Shijo Karasuma. It is the optimal venue for drinking parties, girls-only gatherings, dates, and casual get-togethers. Many people come here to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, so you might even catch sight of a surprise party here.
Here you can enjoy teppanyaki made from carefully selected ingredients, the ever-popular Kyoto vegetables, and dishes made with fresh seafood.
Popular menu items include the specialty Kuroge Wagyu steak, salt-grilled chicken, and foie gras steak. One of GARYU's characteristics is that not only do they serve Japanese cuisine, you can also enjoy a stylish Western style meal here. You can choose where you would like to sit based on your needs, from counter seating, table seating and tatami room seating. If it's Japanese food that focuses on the ingredients you're after, how about enjoying teppanyaki as it gets cooked right in front of you at the counter?
2. Kyo Apollo Rokkaku
Kyo Apollo Rokkaku is an over 100 year-old Kyoto machiya building that has been remodelled into an izakaya (Japanese-style pub). This restaurant really allows you to feel Kyoto through not only its food but also its architecture. Each dish is a masterpiece that pays homage to its raw ingredients. In particular, the oden (simmered dish containing various ingredients such as fish cakes and boiled eggs) made with dashi (Japanese soup stock) which has been constantly added to since the restaurant opened, has a gentle flavor that is typical of Kyoto. This is a popular menu item not only in winter but in the summer as well.
Other recommendations include seafood sashimi bought fresh from the central market each morning, A4 grade and higher Kuroge Wagyu steak. To conclude your dining experience, the ikura-don (salmon roe rice bowl) will envelop your mouth with bursts of flavor with the popping sensation of salmon roe.
All of Apollo's specialty desserts are made in-house and are perfect to share on a date or with friends. Why not enjoy some specialty culinary delights in a machiya with over 100 years of history in Kyoto?
3. Kyo no Ouchi Gohan Warabeuta
Kyo no Ouchi Gohan Warabeuta is a restaurant where you can enjoy gently flavored obanzai that uses specialty seasonal ingredients and Kyoto vegetables. They offer over 30 different types of obanzai, so you can enjoy trying a range of local vegetables. The restaurant's top recommendation, the Duck Hotpot with Kujo Green Onions, is a bargain at 980 yen. The sweetness of the Kujo green onions with the lean duck meat is perfectly satisfying.
4. Machiya Kyo Kisetsu Ryori Ringetsu
Machiya Kyo Kisetsu Ryori Ringetsu is an 80-year-old Kyoto machiya where you can satisfy your tastebuds with specialty appetizers grilled over charcoal and sumptuous rice dishes. This restaurant sources vegetables from a kyo-yasai farmer authorized by Kyoto City, so you will be able to enjoy some really special dishes made from local Kyoto vegetables. The rice used is the renowned Uonuma Koshi-Hikari variety of rice, which is cooked to fluffy perfection in an old-style cooking pot known as a hagama.
The main fare here is seasonal hot pot and kyo-kaiseki (Kyoto's traditional local cuisine) that include various kinds of delicious seasonal seafood such as eel, grouper, and puffer fish. One of the highlights of this restaurant is that you can enjoy a course menu at reasonable prices that start at 5,400 yen. This is the perfect restaurant for all kinds of groups, whether it be family, friends, or your business associates.
5. Imahara Machiya
Imahara Machiya is a secret hideaway in the midst of Kyoto's downtown. The building, which looks almost the same as it did when it was constructed 90 years ago, is a space in which you can certainly feel the spirit of Kyoto in the air. Imahara is an exclusive venue, as you can only dine here with a reservation.
The theme of the course menus served here is "home-style hospitality", so you can enjoy original Japanese-style dishes with the unique flavor of Kyoto and the warmth of home here. Having a meal as you look out at the courtyard garden with its traditional stone water feature truly gives you a sense of Japan. This is the perfect place for visitors to Japan wanting an authentic Japanese experience, couples wanting to enjoy a special meal together, or for a meal with the family.
Top Kyoto Machiya Restaurants for Dates, Gatherings, or Dining Alone
1. Kyo Wappa & Sozai Sweets Kinowa
Kyo Wappa & Sozai Sweets Kinowa is the restaurant to go to for speciality kyo-wappa (Kyoto-style circular bento boxes) and handmade sweets. Kyo-wappa is made by steaming dashi-cooked rice and a range of accompanying toppings, and steam wafts from the dish the moment you take off the lid. The rice and delicious accompaniments combine to create an exquisite meal. There is an assortment of options available, so you can enjoy a different meal each time you come.
The sweets here are made from carefully-chosen ingredients. They're both healthy and delicious, making this a popular spot for women to meet up. There are many specialties, including sweets that use both white sugar and mineral-rich sudakitou brown sugar, and sweets made with rice flour instead of wheat flour. Come here to liven up a day out with your girlfriends and treat yourself to these specialty sweets.
2. Okazuya Ishikawa
Okazuya Ishikawa is a Kyoto machiya that has been revamped into an obanzai restaurant. A calm, Kyoto-style atmosphere fills the air here, making this the ideal date location for couples wanting to relax in comfort. You can also order half-sizes of the obanzai dishes, so even someone dining alone can easily come in and enjoy a few different dishes here.
At the counter, you can feast your eyes on the range of obanzai dishes presented. All the dishes are well-reviewed, but the kyo-yasai dishes are especially recommended. This restaurant aims to serve food that feels as warm as being welcomed home by one's mother, so why not come by to experience this feeling for yourself?
Rojimon is the sister restaurant of popular Kyoto restaurant Enmadou. The interior of this 130 year-old machiya has been given a modern renovation and is now a sophisticated luxury space. You can now experience the best of Japan through this fusion of the old-fashioned and the modern, and you will no doubt be immersed in a wonderful feeling when you dine here.
Rojimon's specialty is the house-made zaru tofu served in a bamboo basket. This is an extremely popular menu item that most people order when they come to Rojimon. The flavorful Pari-Pari Pizza, which uses dried beancurd dough for the crust, is also divine. Seating consists of the stylish counter, which is perfect for a date, and sofa seating where you can enjoy evening views of the garden. This venue is highly recommended for both a girls' night out or an intimate date.
Taroya is a small izakaya where you can enjoy a variety of obanzai dishes. It can sometimes be difficult to choose what you want to order from the tantalizing obanzai displayed at the counter. A great point about Taroya is that its counter seating is perfect for solo diners, so you can relax and enjoy a meal here even if you're on your own.
There are so many things to try here, with more than 60 obanzai dishes on the main menu and 20 more seasonal recommended dishes. Taroya's famous dish, the potato salad, costs a mere 500 yen, so you can see that the prices are also reasonable! This restaurant comes highly recommended for casual dates as well.
5. Ouchi Kappo Ayatomi
Ouchi Kappo Ayatomi is a restaurant where you can enjoy dishes that distinctly represent each season while seated at a unique sunken kotatsu counter. The chef works nearby, and gives thorough explanations about the food so you can properly savor the dishes. With a large drinks menu, you can also enjoy the perfect sake to go with your meal.
Aside from the sunken kotatsu counter, there is also table seating and kotatsu table seating available, which is perfect for a date in a cozy atmosphere. The counter is a great spot for dining alone. Talking with the chef about the food at this unusual kotatsu counter will really liven up your experience, so why not come by to enjoy Kyoto obanzai?
There Are So Many Restaurants Where You Can Enjoy Kyoto's Home-style Cooking!
Now you know the best places to go to enjoy Japanese-style cuisine in Kyoto's machiya. No matter which you visit, you're sure to feel the elegant essence of Kyoto. All these restaurants serve dishes that are both pleasing to the eye and palate. These restaurants all have unique flavors, too, thanks to the specialty ingredients and preparation methods used. Choose one of these Japanese-style restaurants in Kyoto's machiya for an anniversary with a special someone, a family meal, or even for treating yourself to a luxurious solo-dinner date.
Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.