We often see the phrase, “best places to eat” in travel media. We like rankings. An as a tourist, they work as a kind of assurance to avoid unpleasant experiences during your precious, limited time. We understand this. Here at Cooking Sun, we are constantly asked what we think are the “best” restaurants in Japan.
However, when it comes to traveling in Japan, it seems to me that the phrase ‘best places to eat’ is much less relevant. Why? It’s simple. It’s because the general standard for food is high. If you ask local people which restaurants are the best, they may have an answer for you, but in most cases, they will just say ‘hmm, there are many, and any restaurant is pretty good”.
I often suggest to our customers to pick a restaurant while walking around and just give it a try! If the restaurant looks decent, most likely the quality is good. You may enjoy interacting with the restaurant staff and other diners because they are not used to meeting foreign travelers. You are very new to them! By the way, if you want to eat Kobe-beef while in Japan, that’s fun to try, but many yakiniku restaurants serve delicious beef that is much cheaper because it is not officially Kobe beef.
Experiencing the tastes of nameless small restaurants in Japan is another great way of exploring each city.
Inoichi is the first ramen restaurant who received michlin star as ramen restaurant. They are located just 5 minutes walk from Shijo station in Kyoto. (MAP) Their soup is bonito fish style which is quite healthy while most ramen soup are based on pork. Budget is 800 yen ~ 1000 yen. They are closed on Mondays.
Sodoh Higashiyama is a Italian full service restaurant located near Kodaiji temple in Higashiyama area. (MAP) Lunch starts at 1500 yen and dinner starts at 4000 yen. You need reservation to go to the restaurant which you can do online or can ask concierge if you are staying at hotel. The restaurant also has a beautiful large Japanese garden which is worth a look at if you are a garden fan.
Tempura Endo is a well-known high end restaurant specialized in tempura cuisine. They have several locations in Kyoto and their original restaurant is located in Gion area. (MAP) You definitely need reservation to go there but they have reservation form on their website. Lunch starts at 4000 yen and dinner starts at 10000 yen.