"Cheap · delicious · narrow! Wooden dining area ""Yontomi Kaikan"" where you can taste deep Kyoto"
If you come all the way to Kyoto, it is natural that you should be tempted to enjoy dining at an eating place that can’t be found in any other place than here. However, it isn’t easy on the wallets to have Kyoto cuisine so often as it is quite expensive. When you are wondering if there are interesting restaurants unique to Kyoto that you can enjoy more easily....
I would like to recommend to you a small retro wooden dining area. Behind the old and narrow counter seats you can not even draw chairs, there is a quite narrow kitchen that makes it hard for a shop owner to twist his body. A new page will be added to your Kyoto food experience when you get addicted to this shop that is like a cellar.
Even though the space is interesting, what about the taste? Of course it is great, because I am taking my time to introduce it.
Different space in the middle of downtown
Shijyo street passing from east to west in the middle of downtown Kyoto. Tominokoji street passes through the middle of Kawaramachi station and Karasuma station of Hankyu Railway. If you go up this Tomikoji street about 30 meters to the north from Shijyo street, the well-known Yontomi Kaikan shows up.
As you can see, it looks like "Showa!" sound can be heard no matter where you knock. A long narrow passage in about one meter width is passing from the entrance to the end with a variety of eateries alongside it. Izakaya pub, wine bar, shochu bar, small restaurant, etc., etc ....
On the second floor, the owner lady was running a Yoshu Kissa (sounds like Showa!), which was closed several years ago in spite of being sadly missed. I heard that it was during the Showa 30 's when the building became its present form. Since a geisha in Gion was redeemed by a "nice person", Patron, and opened a small restaurant at first with the funds, there were so many shops as now and young Nishijin craftsmen, who couldn’t afford to hang out in Gion, visited frequently with a tub in their arms on the way back from a bath.
A real Thai restaurant that can hold only 6 people
However, Heisei's Yontomi Kaikan keeps such nostalgia with some cutting-edge restaurants in, evolving from the oasis for the middle-aged men into a cheap, great and narrow restaurant area that also attracts young people.
Among them, the leading cutting-edge restaurant should be "Naraku ".
The entrance is a sash with a width one and a half. If you open a sliding door where the inside of the store is hard to see, it is impossible to understand that half of that is the full width of the shop (!). And in front of you the chairs have six legs perfectly. If you sit down so that you can walk your legs, the shopkeeper is back, the shopkeeper Moriya Noriyoshi who is standing in between the counter and the wall behind it is the eye to the nose.
As Thai language is written in that sliding door, as you can see barely, this is a Thai restaurant. Moreover, it is a shop that delivers high-level dishes that cross over the same level as the restaurant from this small kitchen.
"I use vegetables in Japan for foods, but I try not to arrange with awareness of the Japanese tongue as much as possible, I try to keep the taste of Thai as it is," Mr. Morita said. Even after opening the shop in 2010, I also do not miss the trip twice a year, but I heard that when I walk around and eat around Bangkok, I am introducing authentic cooking stuff.
Sweet and sour, hot and spicy! Thai cuisine to go with wine
Now, here is a recommendation from the Thai cuisine specialties. First of all, a regular menu of 700 yen (tax included, same as below), Yum Khai Dao. It is crispy over-easy egg salad.
Shallot, cilantro, tomatoes, dried shrimps are flavored sweet-sour and spicy with lime fruit juice, fish sauce and red peppers, and the sour and spicy tastes blend together with crispy over-easy eggs to make perfect mild spicy tastes. You can’t stop drinking draft Sapporo Edelpils.
This is a quasi-regular menu, Larb Moo, which means minced pork with herbs (950 yen). Instead of mince, randomly minced meat prepared by tapping knife brings about fillingness. Although it is slightly neutralized by the fat of the meat, coarse ground pepper from Thailand is quite spicy! If you munch cabbage right away, sweet tastes get the tongue back to life and the nose feel a refreshing scent of mint leaves and cilantro.
Thai white ""Monsoon Valley"" (600 yen glass) recommended as ""wine also goes well with it "". I’m sure meat's fat and spicy taste will be completely removed and you can eat it while resetting your mood.
There are also spirits with high alcohol content such as Thai shochu at the counter, and you can drink dangerously when nibbling a Larb as a snack. The gap between the authentic Thai cousin and small shop space is the appealing feature of Naraku.
Enjoy very low price tempura at a cave like shop counter.
Another shop, Kiki, has about two more seats but it is still very narrow. The shop has a frontage (depth?) of more than 3.6 meters, which maximizes the cave-like atmosphere accompanied by the low ceiling. It opened in 2007 and the second owner, Yoshinobu Matsuo, has been in charge of the shop from about three years ago
His tempura made with no eggs is light and healthy.
This is Kiki’s specialty tempura. The owner offers a long filling course meal with four combination platter as the starter and 16 different types of tempura. The price is only 3,400 yen (tax inclusive, all other prices are tax inclusive) including two free drinks. What a bargain price!
The course meal never feels like a corner-cutting even from the starter, the four combination platter. The platter, including Somen (fine white noodle) with strong Sudachi (Japanese citrus) flavor and boiled quail eggs soaked in sweet say sauce, plays the role of starter perfect.
Tempura lightly fried with Shirashimeyu oil is characterized by the whitish shiny deep fried batter compared to other typical tempura. Actually the batter does not contain eggs. This is why the batter is white. Using eggs makes tempura filling, but it soaks much oil and gives a heavy, after meal feeling. This is why the owner does not use eggs in the batter.
When you bite a prawn tempura, you don’t actually feel the rich egg flavor. But, instead, oil gets dried quickly and you can have the bouncy texture of prawn sweetened by heat inside the light deep fried batter. You don’t use Tempura sauce and eat tempura with four different types of seasoned salt with Sansho (Japanese pepper), garlic and sake flavors to enjoy the natural taste of ingredients directly. This is the Kiki style.
It is great that you can have 16 different types of tempura with only a bit over 3,000 yen. Let’s have a toast with Kyoto “Tsukinokatsura” Honginjo (800 yen if it is ordered individually)
To enjoy fun and pleasant drinking at Yontomikaikan
There are several things you have to bear in mind when you first visit Yontomikaikan, a row of great shops including these two shops.
・Although a little English is spoken for taking orders in Naraku and Kiki, people can hardly communicate in other languages except Japanese in some shops.
・Shops in Yontomikaikan are all very narrow. It is best to visit the shops alone or another person. Three people in a group are actually the limit but can get rejected depending on how crowded the shop is. Do not visit them in a large number of people.
・The above two shops are not bars mainly serving alcohol but dining shops. It is not recommended to stop by for just a glass of beer. The same applies to other shops which mainly serve meals.
・You can call up shops to see the seat availability. However, some shops run by only the owner may not be able to pick up the phone. You should be aware that a definite seat booking is difficult.
Follow these unwritten rules; we say “read the atmosphere (sense the mood)” in Japanese, and we, happy Kyoto’s unique dining shops, are very looking forward to your visit at Yontomikaikan.
Also, there are many other traditional, attractive wooden, narrow dining streets called “Kaikan-kei” in Kyoto. We will introduce them next time.