October 2022: Please note Sumibi Yakitori Chabuya has now permanently closed. Please see our Downtown Kyoto page for other places to eat in the district.
For smoky, charcoal-grilled yakitori with a dose of retro atmosphere, head over to Sumibi Yakitori Chabuya in downtown Kyoto. We love the “special meatball” and the fried chicken cartilage!
Sumibi Yakitori Chabuya – image © Chris Rowthorn
Who doesn’t love a good yakitori dinner? For a down-to-earth place to chow down on charcoal-grilled skewers and copious amounts of booze, you can’t go wrong with Sumibi Yakitori Chabuya – Chabuya for short – in downtown Kyoto.
The yakitori skewers at Chabuya are generally good to great. The “special meatball” is particularly good – it comes with a raw egg on the side for dipping. Veggie-lovers are reasonably well-catered for at Chabuya. Choose from a number of vegetable skewers like shiitake mushroom, eggplant, negi (Japanese leek) and more; each one is infused with smoky charcoal from the grill.
Besides the yakitori, the cartilage fried chicken is a must-try for texture fans – the crunchiness is utterly moreish. Japanese meals often finish with rice or similar carbohydrates, and at Chabuya, it’s great to end by slurping up a bowl of chicken ramen.
We like Chabuya not just for the food, but for the extra dose of old-timey atmosphere in the restaurant. For one thing, it’s down a narrow alley and a little difficult to find the first time – which is rather fun, like a hidden restaurant of sorts. Walk through the doors, with a red lantern glowing in the dark, and you’ll hear strains of enka (retro Japanese music) from the speakers. The waitstaff are on the younger side, but energetic and
Reservations at Chabuya are highly recommended, as you risk being turned away otherwise. They have an English-language menu to make ordering easier!
For more Kyoto yakitori choices, see our Best Yakitori in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Sumibi Yakitori Chabuya
Name in Japanese:
310-3 Uradeyama-cho, Nishikikoji-dori-Muromachi-higashiiru, Nakagyo-ku
Non-smoking area: No
3min walk from Karasuma Station Exit 22, Hankyu line or Shijo Station Exit 2, Karasuma subway line
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 Suica 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