Whether you’re vegan or not, gourmands should head to Ajiro Honten near Myoshin-ji Temple to enjoy gorgeously cooked, multi-course Buddhist temple vegan meals. One of their claims to fame: they’re the longest running vegan restaurant in the city to keep their Michelin star.
Ajiro Honten – image © Chris Rowthorn
Vegan food does not equal rabbit food. This should be fairly obvious to most people, and Shojin ryori, or Buddhist temple vegetarian cuisine, is a prime example. Seasonal local fruits and vegetables feature heavily in the meal, and you’ll experience the full range and possibilities inherent in the soybean during a shojin ryori meal.
Kyoto has a few great shojin ryori restaurants. Located on the doorstep of Myoshin-ji Temple, Ajiro Honten is beloved by eaters of all stripes for their exquisitely cooked and presented meals. Ajiro Honten is the main branch of this restaurant and is one of our favourites. If you care, it also has a Michelin star to its name.
The lunch bento here is a generous spread at JPY3000. You might begin with a palate cleanser of sake and sesame tofu, followed by a clear soup. There might be a creamy tofu salad, or a simmered dish of spongy Koya tofu and boiled chestnuts. Dishes change with the season, but they invariably take you across a spectrum of colour and flavour in the plant world. Best of all, none of it leaves you feeling bloated or heavy.
One of their specialties in the ‘omakase’ meal at dinnertime is a pot of soy milk which simmers gently for the duration of your meal. Throughout, you’ll scoop up thin, coagulated sheets of yuba from the surface of the soy milk, and snack on these between the parade of dishes arriving at your table.
Ajiro is also one of the few shojin ryori institutions in Kyoto that offers a dinner service, with courses starting at JPY6000 per person and going up to JPY10,000 a pop. If you’re vegan and looking for a special occasion dinner to mark your time in Kyoto, Ajiro is a great place to have on your list. Bear in mind that it does close relatively early at 9:00pm, and given the pace of a multi-course meal, you should aim for a 7:00pm reservation at latest to enjoy your meal.
For more Kyoto shojin ryori choices, see our Best Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
28-3 Hanazono-teranomae-cho, Ukyo-ku
Closed Wednesday except national holiday
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
6min walk from Hanazono Station, JR Sagano line
Official site (Japanese)
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
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