The sister restaurant to Kikunoi in Southern Higashiyama, 2-star Kikunoi Roan in the heart of Gion is a more unorthodox but no less delicious take on classic kaiseki. Happily, it is also the more affordable of the two!
Kikunoi Roan – image © Chris Rowthorn
A controversial opinion: some folks find traditional kaiseki too formal for their liking. Many are indeed a little impenetrable for first-time diners, or those who are accustomed to more boldly-flavoured fare at fine dining restaurants. If that’s the case, skip the super-traditional restaurants and try Kikunoi Roan instead for a more modern take on kaiseki.
While Kikunoi mainly focuses on classic kaiseki dishes, Kikunoi Roan is more adventurous in its offerings – relatively speaking, anyway. You’re not going to find flavoured foams or juice pairings here anytime soon. But we do love that Chef Murata breathes fresh life into traditional kaiseki, whether that’s through experimenting with non-Japanese ingredients or incorporating French and European cooking techniques into dishes.
The format of the kaiseki meal here is largely similar to classical meals. You’ll begin with appetizers and a seasonal plate known as the hassun, followed by sashimi, several dishes each focusing on a separate cooking technique (simmered, grilled, etc.) before finishing with rice, soup, pickles, and dessert.
But, flavour-wise, the food here appeals a little more to non-Japanese palates. Boldly-flavoured dishes like white miso-marinated egg yolk, a palate cleanser of corn sorbet, or crab rice cooked with crab broth and meat are sure to please. Dessert is not the usual fruit, but often times a more obviously ‘sweet’ confection, such as glutinous rice balls, red beans, watermelon cubes, and coffee ice cream drizzled with maple syrup; or baked apple with milk ice cream and shoyu-caramel sauce.
Best of all, Kikunoi Roan is easier to reserve – it’s sometimes possible to have your concierge book seats here a few days in advance – and distinctly more affordable than the main restaurant. Lunch starts at a very decent JPY4000 per person, going up to JPY10,000 a head. Dinner will cost you between JPY13,000 to JPY25,000 before drinks, taxes, and service charges. But that’s pretty great value for a place like this.
For more Kyoto kaiseki choices, see our Best Kaiseki in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
118 Saito-cho, Kiyamachi-dori-Shijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
1min walk from Kawaramachi Station Exit 1B, Hankyu line
Official site (English)
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