Jan. 14, 2016 UPDATE
Feature
Exclusive Sushi Experience in Kyoto
Part 3

Kyoto’s Specialty Sushi

Kyoto’s Specialty Sushi
Here, we will be introducing a number of rather unusual sushi restaurants whose specialties are hard to find outside of Kyoto, even within Japan. “Saba-zushi,” a type of preserved dish made with specially treated fish, with its roots in Kyoto’s geographic situation and the wisdom the people of the past derived from it. “Hako-sushi,” a variety of sushi that’s as much a delight for the eyes as it is for the mouth, made with layered rice and toppings pressed into shape inside a box. The bite-sized “Temari-zushi,” made small enough that even a delicate Maiko (apprentice geiko) can fit it into her mouth. ...and the list goes on! The unique local culture, wisdom, and customs of Kyoto are inseparably intertwined with them all.
Mametora
It might be appropriate to call “temari-sushi” miniature sushi. But of course, this sushi is edible. At Mametora, you can enjoy specially prepared bite-sized sushi made small so that Maiko would not have to open their mouths wide in order to eat. Although these sushi are small, each piece is delicately and carefully prepared. It can be nice to dine on these delicacies while your mind drifts to the fine details of the chef’s work, imagining yourself as a Maiko while eating.
Daizen
What’s the best drink to go with sushi? Some are sure to say it’s beer, while others will choose Japanese sake. If you’ve come all the way to Kyoto, Japan’s greatest producer of sake, we think you really ought to experience sushi with sake — at least once! At “Daizen,” located at the heart of the popular tourist destination Arashiyama, visitors can enjoy a delightful variety of sushi made with all fresh seafood. Watching the masterful chef working behind the counter is sure to be the perfect appetizer for sushi, as well as some good sake!
Hisago-Zusi
If you’re looking to enjoy Kyoto’s unique sushi cuisine downtown, we recommend Hisago-zushi. The menu has a wide variety of Nigiri-zushi, but our top pick is the Chirashi-sushi (pictured). The dish is made up of a bed of sushi rice, with just the right balance of acidity and sweetness, below a beautifully presented selection of toppings such as egg, shrimp, and conger eel. The flavors of the rice and toppings melt together deliciously, and you won’t be able to tear your chopsticks away! Other than this, we also recommend the Hako-sushi, a slightly peculiar variety of sushi that’s beautifully cut into box-like shapes. These kinds of dishes are collectively known as “Kyo-zushi,” and are well-loved by the locals.
Sushizen
This highly-recommended sushi restaurant is located very near to the site of Sharing Kyoto’s office! The restaurant, run by a skilled chef, is extremely small, but with its nostalgic atmosphere guests are likely to feel as if they’ve entered a time-slip into a Japan of the recent past! The restaurant’s painstakingly prepared dishes are all delicious, but our top choice is the Chirashi-sushi — bite-sized cuts including tuna, octopus, squid, and conger eel arranged on a bed of rice and topped with finely shredded egg to the point that you can’t even see what’s underneath!
IZUJU
It’s clear that Saba-zushi is the specialty of “Izuju” — an affiliate of “Izuu” — as well. However, besides the Saba-zushi, Izuju’s other varieties of sushi made using seasonal, fresh seafood are also well worth a look. Pictured is a type called “Sasamaki-zushi,” a kind of bite-sized Saba (mackerel) Nigiri-zushi. Served wrapped in a bamboo leaf, so even though you’re in a restaurant you might feel like you’re out on a picnic... and take-outs are available so you could well do just that!
Kappou Yamashita
If you’ve taken a liking to Saba-zushi, then this store is definitely worth a visit. Kappou Yamoshita not only serves delicious Saba-zushi; it’s also a wonderful Japanes-style Kappou restaurant, with fans throughout the country. Watch as the skilled staff put on a show as they prepare your food, enjoy the pleasure of a truly delicious meal, and converse with the warm and friendly owner of the restaurant. This is one of the restaurants for which the editorial team here at Sharing Kyoto really do give a heartfelt recommendation.
Sushi Otowa
If you head down Shinkyogoku Shopping Street, a popular destination for tourists in the city even by Kyoto’s standards, you’ll come across a curious shop with blowing steam rising up in front of it. And inside of the big box that’s putting out all that steam... it’s sushi! “Mushi-zushi” is a traditional kind of Kyo-zushi, and this is one specialty store that has long been loved by the locals. Try it — you’re sure to love it.

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