Sun streams through the windows and the reflection off the red awning tints the walls a rosy pink. Menus from renowned French restaurants adorn the walls, as do antique clocks that all display different times. The abandon is welcome, as lunch at Le Plat Plus is a leisurely affair.... [See FULL REVIEW
Saga Shingucho 72-1. (on Marutamachi-dori, a 10-minute walk from JR Saga Station or Keifuku Arashiyama Station) Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-8:30pm (LO). Closed Tues. and 3rd Mon.
Perhaps the most famous kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto (and one of the most expensive), Kitcho offers first-rate food and very formal service in an idyllic setting. Guests are served in elegant private dining rooms, and the food is presented in rare antique bowls and dishes. All this will set you back at least Y40,000 for dinner or Y35,000 at lunchtime. Plan on spending at least a few hours, and book well in advance.
Saga Tenryuji Susukinobanbacho 58. (near Arashiyama Park) Open 11:30am-1, 4:30-7pm (LO) daily.
With a fantastic location overlooking the beautifully landscaped garden of Tenryo-ji Temple, Shigetsu serves up a beautiful vegetarian shojin-ryori lunch built around yuba, tofu and seasonal vegetables. The staff don't speak English, but there are only three choices on the menu - Y3000, Y5000 and Y7000 set menus. (There's also a Y500 admission to the garden area.) Reservations are recommended.
Saga Tenryuji Susukinobanbacho 68. (inside Tenryuji temple grounds) Open 11am-2pm daily.
The fresh-baked sembei crackers here are perfect to munch on while you explore the nearby Tenryuji Temple, and they come in fun flavors like wasabi, red pepper, shiso and yuzu - 14 varieties in all.
Keifuku Arashiyama station. (in front of Keifuku Arashiyama station) Open 9am-8pm daily.
Kita-Shirakawa (Philosopher's Walk)
Sunny Place has moved but the philosophy is the same. Healthy vegan Japanese fare at low prices. The new restaurant has a long narrow counter, upon which the array of side dishes included in the set menu (Y850) are displayed. Soy chicken and soy pork burgers remain the perennial favourites on the menu, which is unchanged. A ten-minute walk from Hyakumanben, Sunny Place is close enough to serve as a respite from the throng of the Chionji Temple Market, held on the 15th of every month.
Marikojidori Imadegawa-sagaru. (E side of Marikoji-dori, 2 blocks N of Imadegawa, 10 min. walk E from Demachiyanagi Keihan Station) Open noon-2, 6-10:30pm. Closed Tuesdays.
As Tonryu is THE ramen restaurant in northeast Kyoto the queues form early. And the fundamental question is: wave or straight? The yasai chuka soba (Chinese ramen with vegetables) and a plate of gyoza come to Y1500. A bargain. And breathe easy - Toryu is non-smoking.
Kita-Shirakawa Kami-Betocho 1, Dai-ni Aoyama-so 6-go. Open 11:30am-2, 5pm-1am (LO). Closed Wednesdays.
This well-established restaurant has been preparing vegetarian shojin-ryori since the mid-1400s, and it's one of the few shojin places that serves (early) dinner as well as lunch. Lunchtime service is Y4000, and dinners start at around Y8000.
Murasakino Daitokujimae 20. (outside the east gate of Daitokuji Temple) Open noon-6pm (LO) daily.
Located five minutes from Daitokuji Temple, this 70-year-old shop specializes in Kyoto-style sushi, including excellent chakin-zushi, using ingredients fresh from Akashi fish market. Bento boxes are Y2300, and omakase menus are Y5000-12,000.
Murasakino Shimomonzencho 25. (along the E side of Daitokuji Temple) Open 11am-2, 5-9pm (LO). Closed Mondays.
This famous shojin-ryori establishment specializes in teppatsu-ryori, a rather elaborate variation of Zen vegetarian cuisine. Located inside Daitokuji Temple (on the grounds of the Daiji-in subtemple), they offer nice views and outdoor garden seating, although the decor itself is rather 1970s-institutional. Menus (lunch only) start at Y3150, and they include a surprising amount of food, parceled into many small dishes. They also have other branches in Kyoto and one in Tokyo (in the neighborhood of Yoga).
Murasakino Daitokujicho 4. (inside the Daiji-in garden, Daitokuji Temple) Open 11am-4pm daily.
Elsewhere in town
Located just one minute from Hankyu Nishiin station, this attractively decorated specialty bar is worth seeking out if you're a fan of Belgian beers. The list of brews is impressive, and it's matched up with traditional Belgian dishes like steamed mussels, carbonard (beef stewed in beer), quiches and galettes.
Nishiin Nishi-sanzocho 13-1, Mark Bldg B1F. Open 6pm-2am. Closed Mondays.