Eating out in Kyoto doesn’t have to be fancy, multi-course affairs all the time. We love obanzai places like Kikkoya in downtown Kyoto, which serve up homestyle cooking that’s heavy on the vegetables as well as flavour.
Kaiseki – hyper-seasonal multi-course fine dining – is usually top on the list of culinary experiences for visitors to Kyoto. But we also love more down-to-earth sides of local cuisine, such as obanzai. Think of obanzai as homestyle Kyoto cooking, simple but flavourful dishes that go heavy on the vegetables and local ingredients. It’s highly seasonal too. One of our favourite places for obanzai cuisine is Kikkoya, a restaurant in downtown Kyoto beloved by locals for a few decades now.
Kikkoya is one of those places where you could order literally anything and love whatever arrives. It is so rare at this price point to encounter a kitchen that turns out consistently good to great dishes. There is a reasonably well-translated version of the standard menu, and there are the usual favourites like grilled fish, fried chicken, and potato salad. If you are dining solo, half portions are possible for some dishes, like sashimi platters. But for the weekly obanzai, you’ll need to ask them for the seasonal menu. This is only in Japanese, but there are typically no duds, so we recommend trying your luck.
Dishes vary according to the season. In spring you might have spring cabbage in a cold, smoky dashi broth, or sukiyaki-style simmered beef, or a tempura dish of duck, fiddlehead fern, and canola blossom. Make sure you order the fried lily bulbs (yurine) and pork in ginger sauce (shogayaki). These two dishes are always on the menu, and they’re always fantastic.
Though obanzai is vegetable heavy, this doesn’t mean it is vegetarian-friendly. At most obanzai restaurants, obanzai are often prepared in large batches; don’t expect that they will be able to easily make substitutions. If you need something vegetarian, check out the vegetarian itinerary for more ideas.
For more Kyoto izakaya choices, see our Best Izakaya in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
601 Kikkoya-cho, Takakura-dori-Anekoji-agaru, Nakagyo-ku
Non-smoking area: No
4min walk from Karasuma Oike Station Exit 3-1, Karasuma and Tozai subway lines
Official site (Japanese)
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)