Michelin Star Kaiseki in Kyoto: 6 Restaurants with 1, 2, and 3 Stars
Kaiseki is the ultimate form of Japanese cooking. A kaiseki meal consists of many elaborate small courses which showcase various cooking techniques and local ingredients. Kyoto is home to some of the very best Kaiseki restaurants in the world, and many have earned Michelin stars. This is a guide to 6 of the best.
★ Jiki Miyazawa (じき 宮ざわ)
One of Jiki Miyazawa's signature dishes is the 'yaki goma tofu,' which means baked sesame tofu. It is made with high-quality sesame, kombu and kudzu. This dish can also be bought as a souvenir, so your friends back home can have a taste of Kyoto's exquisite cuisine.
For a 1-star Michelin restaurant, lunch is surprisingly affordable. There are lunch sets for ¥3,500, ¥5,000 and ¥7,000. Dinner is slightly pricier and is between ¥7,000 and ¥15,000. You can taste a series of delicate and beautiful dishes which use selected fresh, in-season ingredients. Make a reservation in advance if you plan to go!
★ Kiyama (木山）
Chef Yoshiro Kiyama was born in 1981 in Gifu Prefecture. After gaining 15 years of experience at the prestigious restaurant 'Wakuden', he established 'Kiyama' in 2017. The restaurant quickly gained attention and earned him rave reviews from epicureans from Japan and overseas.
Upon the opening of Kiyama, it took only one year for him to acquire a prestigious Michelin star.
Chef Kiyama is so particular about the ingredients that he uses that even the water is drawn from his own well. His dashi, an essential element of Japanese cuisine that gives the umami taste, is house-made from dried fish.
Kiyama is still very new and is likely to gain even more acclaim in the future. Go now while it's still possible to get a reservation! Lunch courses are around ¥10,000, and dinner courses are from ¥15,000 to ¥20,000.
★ Gion Namba (祇園 なん波）
The 'Kyo Kaiseki' served at Gion Namba is a particular type of Kaiseki developed in Kyoto that relies upon the natural taste of the primary ingredients instead. Hence the dishes are only seasoned very lightly, just enough to enhance the natural umami of the fresh seasonal foods.
Speaking of seasonality, another thing that will surely impress you if you go to Gion Namba is that many of the dishes are decorated with flowers that are a reference to the season. It's perhaps no coincidence that chef Osamu Namba is also a master in Japanese floral arrangement. Kyo Kaiseki at Gion Namba is truly a feast for all the senses.
Don't forget to make a reservation!
★★ Mankamero (萬亀楼)
Mankamero first opened as a sake brewery in 1722 (with a different name) and later converted into a tea house that serveed food. The restaurant is now operated by its 10th generation of successors who are truly devoted to the preservation of their traditional cuisine with a philosophy of "steadiness, wisdom, and humility" as stated by chef Takehiro Konishi.
You will feel that sense of history when you dine at Mankamero. The beautiful traditional Japanese interior is the perfect setting to enjoy the refined Kyoto cuisine that it offers.
Courses here are ¥10,000 and over. Vegetarian/vegan options are also available.
★★ Nakahigashi (なかひがし)
The atmosphere here is a bit different than a more traditional, private room kaiseki experieince, but that is actually preferred by many customers. It's interesting to be able to watch the chef as he works and receive explanations of each dish as he serves it to you. This is truly a special restaurant that should be high on everyone's list!
Courses are ¥6,000 for lunch and ¥15,000 for dinner and change daily based on the ingredients that the chef chooses. Be sure to plan at least a month ahead and make a reservation before your trip!
The owner and chef of Kichisen, Yoshimi Tanigawa began his career as a chef when he was just 15 years old. After gaining experience working under many talented chefs, he finally opened his own restaurant, Kichisen, inside of a hotel when he was just 31. 2 years later in 1985, the restaurant moved to its current location, where it has since earned great acclaim. From the years 2010 to 2013, the restaurant was awarded two michelin stars, but since 2014, Kichisen has been awarded three Michelin stars every year.
The food served at Kichisen has touches of modern technique and flavor combinations, but is authentically Japanese and respects the tradition of kyokaiseki cuisine. Kyokaiseki is traditionally a vegetarian affair, but high-quality meat finds its way into some of the dishes served at Kichisen. Every dish is presented in a beautiful and sometimes fantastic fashion and is an absolute treat to eat.
Lunch and dinner courses range in price from ¥18,000 to ¥31,000, depending on how extravagant you want to go. Make a reservation well in advance!
Restaurants Mentioned in this Article
- I live in west Tokyo and spend most of my time thinking about food or going bouldering.