A Guide to Food around Kyoto Univ.

Here are my personal selections of nice and reasonable food around the university.

  • Modified on Aug. 7, 2007: A new entry "Chinese" is added.
  • Modified on Feb. 13, 2003: For your convenience to find them, Japanese-Chinese Kanji characters of the names of the restaurants are listed in

    Kanji List.

    I thank Ben Moonen for the suggestion.

  • Modified on Apr. 1, 2003: Some information about chinese noodles (RA-MEN) is added.
  • Modified on Aug. 31, 2004: Added MAP in pdf-format on which some of the restaurant mentioned below are plotted.
  • Kaiseki

    Obviously, Kyoto is famous for, among diverse local specialties, the so-called KYO-RYORI, that is, normally speaking, highly sophisticated Japanese traditional cuisine served in KAI-SEKI style. Of course, such a cuisine, especially the most orthodox one, can be limitlessly expensive, and is obviously not our concern. But a miniature version of them can be quite reasonable, and is sometimes as good as the true ones. TAKUMA (<-- moved!!) , at the north-west corner of Hyakuman-ben intersection, serves one of such nice and reasonable meals. Its "mini-KAISEKI" costs only 3,500yen (without drinks).


    Perhaps you already know that there are roughly two different kinds of Japanese noodles, SOBA (made from buckwheat) and UDON (made from wheat flour). Enjoying them, preceded by several small side-dishes, at GINKA (<-- name changed to "MATSUYOSHI") (near to TAKUMA, hidden along the narrower path emanating from Hyakuman-ben intersection) is one of my most favorite way of having dinner. I usually pay 1,500-2,500yen for such a meal, of course including a few bottles of beer. Another nice restaurant, though only UDON is available, is OMEN (not named after the film) near to GINKAKU-JI temple along Shishigatani-street. The prices are a bit higher, but they have more choices of side-dishes, which you can enjoy with the OMEN, its special UDON with gorgeous choices of seasonings. One cannot avoid mentioning the extremely nice SOBA restaurant MINORI, which deals with its fresh homemade SOBA noodle. As this is among the most popular lunch places for our faculty members, there you will probably see many mathematicians slurping SOBA. (By the way, in Japan, it is not impolite to slurp noodles with sound. Do not try futilely to eat them quietly!) To get to MINORI, walk along Imadegawa street to the east (heading to GINKAKU-JI) over Shigagoe-Michi; MINORI is on your left-hand side, slightly before the end of the row of shops and restaurants. Something has to be mentioned about chinese noodles (so-called RA-MEN). This kind of food, noodle soup, is mainly japanese, but historically, the idea of the noodle (ingredients, methods, etc) was imported from China. This is why RA-MEN is sometimes called SHINA SOBA (transl. chinese soba). Nowadays there are really diverse varieties of RA-MAN in Japan, some of them having been developed to become local specialties. There are many nice and famous RA-MEN restaurants around Kyoto University. One of them is SHIN-MASU, whose RA-MEN is mainly cooked by KANSAI style recipe, being a bit salty and oily but with deep taste. Here is how to get there: Walk to the north from Hyakuman-ben intersection, turn to the right at the small crossing, the one before the one with the second traffic light. Then soon on your right is a wooden slide door (automatic) of SHIN-MASU. This place is used as IZAKAYA (Japanese style pub) at night. In RA-MEN places, in general, all menus are written in Japanes, and, in most cases, people there will not speak English. So it is recommended to find somebody Japanese to take you there. Otherwise, you should memorize the following Japanese word: "NAMI". It means "regular size". This is a universal word, which makes sense perfectly at all RA-MEN restaurants. If you want "large size", shout "DAI". In SHIN-MASU, NAMI consts 600yen, which is nowadays the standard price for one bowl of RA-MEN as far as I know. Another interesting (perhaps not for RA-MEN beginners but for those who are fairly practiced) RA-MEN restaurant is TENKA IPPIN (near MINORI). The RA-MEN there has a special feature in its soup, much more dense than usual.


    Go to TENCHU without wondering about anything else! Its Tenpura courses (price around 3,500yen without drinks) are very very very good! Be there! Eat! Before you die! Here is how to get there (quite complicated): First, locate yourself at the south-west corner of Tanaka-Satonomae intersection. Walking a few blocks to the west along Mikage-street, you will find a liquor-shop on your left. Turn to the left at the corner nearby. Then TENCHU is in your sight (on your right). Here is the homepage of TENCHU (only in Japanese). Note that they have also a cheap lunch service (1,300yen). Enjoy the best tenpura in the world! (Important warning: Tenchu is a small restaurant, having only eight seats. Do not attempt to go there in a big club.)


    I must say there's no good and reasonable Sushi restaurant within walking distance of the university. But if you are so eager to meet Sushi, perhaps the best choice is the KAITEN-Sushi UOKOH (<-- CLOSED!!) (Sushi-bar where portions of Sushi are served by a special conveyer belt) in the ground floor of Rakuhoku Quanat (next to Holiday Inn Kyoto).

    Kansai specialty - Okonomiyaki

    This is a pancake-like meal, made mainly from wheat flour, containing several kinds of accent toppings which you can choose freely according to your taste, and covered with Japanese special seasoning "Katsuo-Bushi" (thin slices of smorked fishflesh). Try at least once in your life SHOGETSU, near the north-east block to Tanaka-Satonomae intersection, where you encounter with Okonomiyakis of splendid size. Do not attempt, however, to eat the jumbo size only by yourself.

    European Style

    Most of European food in Japan, you have to know, suffer from modification along Japanese tastes. But one of nice approximations can be found in Le Claire (<-- CLOSED!!) , a french restaurant by the north gate of the north campus. Having lunch there is a quite reasonable choice; it has lunch courses of prices starting from around 1300yen. Among other interesting restaurants around the university is FUROEN, where several kinds of set-menus consisting of, for instance, Hamburg steaks and various small side-dishes as well as rice and miso-soup, are avaliable. Here is how to get there: Starting from Ginkakuji-Michi intersection, walk ahead to Ginkakuji temple; turn right at the corner after the first canal. Then FUROEN is on your left. A particularly interesting point of this restaurant is that the atmosphere as well as the food they serve is, in some sense, the most typical mixture of Japanese and European styles. One of the best recommanded menu is its "Hamburg Set", which costs 1,900yen (be warned of its huge quantity). Almost next door to Le Claire is a quasi-european style restaurant HIRAGANA KAN. This restaurant was, according to a survey by students several years ago, actually one of the most popular restaurants nearby the campus. It has surprizingly many choices of original menus, which have slightly more strongly-flavored taste than usual.


    Recently, two very good chinese restaurants, good not only in the sense that they serve good food but also quite reasonable, opened nearby the campus, both along Imadegawa street. Luckily, both are run by original chinese people, and have chinese cooks. One is KO-SHIN, located on Imadegawa street between the north campus entrance and Hyakumanben intersection. The other one is RYU-MON, on the other side of the street, about 100m further to the east (beyond the campus entrace). My special recommendation is "SUI-GYU-MEN", available in RYU-MON. This is a kind of noodle soup, so you can regard it as a RA-MEN. But, the unique point of this MEN (= noodle) is that it is awfully spicy!! Yes. It is extremely spicy, but the taste is beautiful. If you regard yourself as a spicy-food-lover, please try it. I am sure that you will become a mania of it, like me. (Warning: I usually refrain from eating SUI-GYU-MEN as lunch, when I have to work in the afternoon; one may feel very sick by it.)


    If you are already bored with University Coop., find nicer meals at JUNSAI, in front of the convenience store by the gate of the north campus. My favorite lunch menu is SABA-NO-SHIOYAKI (a piece of mackerel broiled with salt) (700yen). Also, TORI-NO-KARAAGE (fried chicken in nearly french style) (650yen) is good.


    When you want to spend a time with coffee and newspaper, going to the famous SHINSHINDO is a good idea. It's along the Imadegawa-street on the north side, a bit to the west of the gate of the north campus. The nice points of this cafe are that you can stay there as long as you like (up to, of course, the closing at 6:00 pm) and that there's no back ground music (so is nice there to study!). A bit more to the west on the same side is the cafe ALPINE, where you can enjoy really high quality coffees in reasonable prices. If you are, in addition, a classical music freak, it's probably good for you to know RYUGETSUDO, near to Demachi-Yanagi train station, upstair to a PACHINKO place.

    GO to F.Kato's Japanese page or to English page