The city’s culinary delights include multicourse kaiseki menus, ramen, even humble barbecue, but what characterizes everything from the simplest izakaya to a three-star Michelin restaurant is the use of the freshest ingredients prepared with artful care and technique.
352 Sumiyoshicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8143, Japan
Kaikado has been handcrafting tea caddies from copper, tin, and brass since 1875. In 2017, its fifth-generation owner, Seiji Yagi, expanded the family business to include a café, located just a five-minute walk from Kaikado’s small workshop and flagship store in Kyoto’s Kawaramachi district. Housed in a 90-year-old listed building, the café immediately drew in Kyoto’s designers and architects with its bright interior comprising concrete walls, light golden oak tables, bookshelves, and copper lamps designed by Danish designers OeO and made by Kaikado. The minimalist eatery sells cheesecake and other goodies from the local bakery Hanakago, alongside blends from London’s Postcard Teas, brews from Tokyo’s Wani Coffee, and Kaikado’s own house-made matcha.
595-2 Fujinishicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8234, Japan
There’s something restorative about the glowing paper lantern and purple-and-white noren hanging in front of the sliding door of this homey izakaya in Kyoto’s central Nakagyo’s ward. Inside, all hunches are verified by the warm Kiharu-san himself, who grins mischievously behind the L-shaped, 10-seat counter and bar stocked with a rainbow of elegant sake and shochu bottles. But the real restoration starts with the soul-satisfying food, specializing in perfectly charcoal-grilled seasonal vegetables such as roasted palms in their husk, onions in their skin, and golden bowls of snow peas bathing in a pool of golden chicken fat. Slices of roasted salmon served with Matsuyama citrus fruits, fragrant bowls of rice porridge spiked with conger eel, and platters of paper-thin chicken doused in green onions are hearty works of edible art.