Centrally located, friendly, and serves delicious homestyle food – what’s not to like about Renkon-ya? This izakaya in downtown Kyoto near Sanjo Station is a cozy little restaurant that’s popular with the locals.
When walking around Kyoto, it’s hard to tell which of the traditional wooden machiya townhouses are restaurants, hotels, or private dwellings, if you can’t read Japanese. But one indicator is the noren curtains hanging over the door. There’s just something about pushing aside the noren curtains and sliding open the door to step into a restaurant. That’s especially true when you’re anticipating a good meal – like at Renkon-ya in downtown Kyoto.
First opened in 1950, Renkon-ya is a small restaurant located in a former lower-ranking samurai home. It’s not opulent, but it’s decidedly cozy and comfortable. Even today, they still serve homestyle Japanese cooking at reasonable prices. Their dishes go down pretty damn well with cups and cups of cold sake!
What can you have here? Start with the signature dish of karashi renkon – that’s lotus root with Japanese mustard. It’s so popular that the restaurant itself was named for this dish! You’ll also want to try the Wakasa karei, which is righteye flounder air-dried overnight and prepared three ways – sashimi, grilled, and as a bone broth.
Keep sampling your way through the menu with an assortment of small dishes. From grilled eggplant (yakinasu) to meat and potato stew (nikujaga), and even herring and aubergine, there’s much in the way of Kyoto-style home cooking to try at Renkon-ya. A great little restaurant for when you’re downtown and wondering where to go. Doors open from 5pm, and it’s a good way to begin a night of bar-hopping.
For more Kyoto izakaya choices, see our Best Izakaya in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
236 Yamazaki-cho, Nishikiyamachi-dori-Sanjo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
5min walk from Sanjo Station Exit 6, Keihan line or Sanjo Keihan Station, Tozai subway line
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
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world