Jun. 02, 2021 UPDATE
Exclusive Sushi Experience in Kyoto
Part 3

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. “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, what geisha are called in Kyoto) 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.
Saba, or mackerel sushi, is the specialty of Izuju, the newer one of two restaurants of this restaurant chain in Japan, only being 100 years old whereas the older Izuu is 200 years old. Izuju also offers other types of sushi besides their saba-sushi; all made using fresh, seasonal seafood. Pictured is a type called “Sasamaki-zushi,” a kind of bite-sized mackerel nigari-zushi. This sushi is wrapped in a bamboo leaf, so they are great on a picnic too.
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 once you start eating! 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” (Kyoto sushi) and are well-loved by the locals.
What’s the best drink with sushi? Some are sure to say it’s beer, while others will choose 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 in the heart of the popular tourist destination Arashiyama, visitors can enjoy a delightful variety of sushi made with 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!
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 steam rising up from a box in front of it. And inside of the big box that’s putting out all that steam... is sushi! “Mushi-zushi” is a traditional kind of Kyo-zushi, and this is one specialty restaurant that has long been loved by the locals. Try it — you’re sure to love it.

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