At cenci, you can enjoy Italian cuisine enhanced with local Kyoto-ingredients
Cenci is Italian and means simple, plain, and unembellished. This could also be used to describe the dishes served at cenci; in a way, the dishes here are made from simple ingredients, but the magic is in how these great ingredients are cooked in such a way that you can enjoy their taste to the fullest.
At cenci, the food is Italian, but it’s made with a Japanese twist. Most of the ingredients used at cenci actually come from Kyoto, so as an example, their bagna càuda sauce is not made with anchovies, but it’s made from salted ayu sweetfish, caught locally from the rivers around Kyoto. And instead of caviar, they top their sashimi carpaccio dish with ayu eggs colored with squid ink.
The dining experience here is full of surprises. The first surprise you’ll have right when you walk into the restaurant. It doesn’t feel like Kyoto inside the restaurant at all; it’s like you had been transported back into the old continent, but not real Europe, but a European style like you’d expect to find in a Japanese movie. Authentic, but still somewhat otherworldly.
Even the entrance to the restaurant is something that makes you wonder if you’re still in Japan: it’s a spiral brick tunnel, in Japanese called nejirimanpo. The tunnel is made from bricks that in turn were made from the soil that had to be excavated when the restaurant was being built. Can you believe that!
/ ￥12,000 (+tax and service charge)
Eating here is a relaxing experience, as you can’t be in a hurry when you enjoy the full course here. Eating here is not only relaxing though; it’s also exciting. The menu only has the names of the ingredients of the dish on it, so after you finish the dish in front of you, you start to wonder what the next dish will be like. Almost everything about the course changes seasonally, but there is a thing that stays the same: every meal at cenci begins with Japanese Parma ham, known as PÄRSÙT.
/ ￥3,000 and up
At cenci they take their wine pairings very seriously. They taste each dish with many types of wines, to find the one that goes with it best. With the wine pairing option, you get a glass of wine with each dish, and you can be sure that each glass of wine goes beautifully with the particular dish you’re eating. They will also take into account how much you can drink, and the price you pay also depends on this.
Desserts made by pastry chefs
One pretty incredible thing about cenci is that their desserts are everything but an afterthought. They have professional pastry chefs make their desserts! On the night when we ate at cenci, we got to eat three desserts, one after another, which left a great aftertaste of this beautiful dining experience.
Enjoy the inner garden
The inner garden of cenci is quite special. Usually, in Kyoto, inner gardens in traditional townhouses are very traditional and Japanese, but at cenci, the inner garden is like a mix of the rough mountains of Italy with rain forests. This just adds to the otherworldliness of the restaurant.