Mar. 17, 2017 UPDATE
Yuka - Outdoor Riverside Dining in Sunset and Night of Kiyamachi
Kyoto’s Complex “Rooji” – Jump in! (9-11 p.m.)
You will notice the narrow, dark, and dubious alleyways when walking down Ponto-cho or Kiyamachi. It’s the alleyways that you can go in and out between Ponto-cho and Kiyamachi. Alleyways are called “roji” in Japanese, but in Kyoto, they are often called, “rooji”. At first glance, these alleyways seem suspicious and may make you hesitate whether to enter, but we recommend entering with some courage. Locals who love to drink gather night after night, because there are many fun bars in these alleyways. Upon entering one, you will most likely find a bartender and local patrons warmly welcoming any travelers. It’s truly an at-home atmosphere. There are several of these alleyways with a variety of bars. Out of all of the alleyways, we will focus on “13 Alley” where many popular bars are located, and we would like to recommend some of them to you.
The Main Attraction of the Alleyways are the Bars
BAR SandYou can enjoy original cocktails made by a kind female bartender with an elegant smile. The bar counter only consists of 5 counter seats and 5 tables so you will be sitting close to other customers. Many of them are regulars who will warmly welcome you to drink. Other than cocktails, there are Japanese beers and also whiskeys like Yamazaki. Notice all the unique glasses made by Japanese artists that are lined up on the shelves.
BAR STANDUp the stairs inside the alleyway is a classical bar with all the standards. The bar has counter seats only and is comfortable inside. There are about 80 different kinds of whiskey available including Japanese made ones like Yamazaki and Hibiki. The recommended drink is any of the cocktails that are carefully made by the bartender. You will be able to get these commonly made cocktails with base of liquors like gin and tequila anywhere, but the drinks here somehow have more of a deep flavor that is different than other places. We hope that you will enjoy a drink made carefully by the bartender at the BAR STAND.
Enamiya SakunomaBeer and Japanese sake of many kinds are, of course, available. The choices of food items are excellent as well. The specialty menu items are made on a piping hot teppan, or iron plate. We recommend you to try the Tonpei-yaki. It’s prepared by cooking mixture of pork and eggs, and then seasoned with sauce. Tonpei-yakki is a bit similar to an omelet, but it’s something that goes very well with a drink. We hope that you will enjoy having conversations with the friendly owner while sitting at the counter seat in Enamiya Sakunoma.
“Shime no Ippin” –Last Dish to Eat After Drinking
Taiho Ramen – Kiyamachi restaurantIn Japan, many people leave the bar or izakaya after they finish drinking, and head over to a different place for shime no ippin, or last dish to finish. That’s because the ingestion of alcohol after drinking makes you a little hungry. In order to satisfy the hunger, people in Japan as well as most drinkers in Kyoto will eat a shime no ippin. A great representation of it is ramen. Taiho Ramen – Kiyamachi restaurant is located in an alley and is open until 6 a.m. The ramen has dark soy sauce flavored soup that goes very well with the thin noodles. There are only counter seats available inside, and this old-fashioned ramen shop ambiance is something we would like for you to experience.
Umaimonyaki SunUmaimonyaki Sun offers yakitori, hotpot, and dishes made with fresh vegetables. This restaurant’s shime no ippin is Lard Rice. It’s a dish where lard is poured on top of rice followed with some sweet and spicy sauce. The dish is eaten after you mix it well. The lard and the sweet-spicy sauce make this the one and only rice dish that you can’t eat anywhere else. Please reference the cute illustrated instruction on how to prepare the Lard Rice.
We hope that you were able to get an idea of what nightlife in Kyoto is like. At yuka river side dining, you will be able to enjoy a meal with a great view of Kyoto’s nature, and while in Ponto-cho and Kiyamachi area, you will be appreciating delicious drinks in a distinctive Japanese ambiance of Kyoto. At the end, you will be walking into roji, or the alleyways, and having a drink while conversing with locals. We hope that you will take our suggestions and think about your after-five plan and have the best possible night out in Kyoto.