Aug. 24, 2020 UPDATE
Japanese Cuisine Sakai- 日本料理さかい -
There are no English menus, and the owner does not speak English perfectly, but he will serve you kindly using gestures.
739 10 8.0 2 reviews
Story & Recommendation
Savor refined Japanese dishes, made with care and sincerity
Japanese Cuisine Sakai is located in a quiet residential area south of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, a 10-minute walk from the Subway Marutamachi Station. As it’s found deep within the first floor of a mixed-use building, you may find yourself wondering, “Is this the right place?” Rest easy, though. As soon as you step inside, you’ll be greeted by the kind host, along with the savory aroma of a charcoal grill. This restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere, where you can feel a sense of calm and friendliness that will smoothly sweep away any tension. If there’s one word that represents Sakai’s food, it’s “care.” The food’s made with all the care imaginable. Their dishes are not flashy or astonishingly novel, but you can truly sense the care and sincerity poured into every aspect. The importance the owner places on guests here steadily shines through, dish-by-dish, providing deep satisfaction to the mind and body. The more you eat, the happier you’ll get. When we start talking about Sakai’s charms, it’s impossible to stop. There’s the char-grilled Tamba beef (a specialty from the owner’s birthplace), the restaurant’s own famous soft dashimaki tamago (rolled omelets), and the rice that comes out with it… And to think that you can have this alluring Japanese cuisine starting at ¥6,500; “reasonable” doesn’t begin to describe it. Sakai, a restaurant offering delicious Japanese cuisine, where the good-humored, friendly host comes out to greet you. This local fixture is one you’ve got to visit when you’re in Kyoto. *This restaurant is reservations-only, so please make sure to make a reservation through a concierge ahead of time.
Full-course meals / Lunch：￥3,500、￥5,000円（+tax）・ Dinner：￥7,500、￥10,000円（+tax）
Full-course meals made with the freshest ingredients and brim with a sense of the season. The fact that you can experience so much and walk away so satisfied, starting at ¥3,500 for lunch and ¥6,500 for dinner, makes these course meals extremely good value. Pictured here is vinegared barracuda with kombu and grilled shiitake mushrooms. The sprinkle of shiso flower petals is also very cute. In addition to seasonal food, one of the appeals of Sakai is the care and sincerity with which they prepare the meals for each group of guests. The earthenware pots of rice and rolled omelets made for each group are exquisite. We hope you’ll have the chance to experience, from one dish to the next, the owner’s passion and care for guests.
The owner’s recommended sake / Mini-glasses 40ml：￥400～￥1,000 | 60ml：￥600～￥1,200 | 80ml：￥900～￥1,500
When you say, “Please give me your recommended sake,” the host will choose the best sake for setting off the flavors of each dish. Pictured is a special pure junmai sake, Yama Shitataru / 山滴る (product of Tottori Prefecture). It came out just before we had the char-grilled Tamba beef. The host chose this one because “it’s a sake with strong flavors that can stand against the meat.” It’s always great to order your favorite sake, but since we’re here, why not try one of the host’s recommendations!
Tie it up with a freshly cooked omelet or splash of tea over some earthenware cooked rice
Another great thing about Sakai is their freshly cooked white rice, along with their fluffy rolled omelets. Cooked with care for each group, the white rice is so delicious, you’ll be asking for seconds no matter how full you are. Enjoy the natural flavors of that first bowl of white rice, along with the “rice’s companion” that further enhance the flavors. Each of the “rice companions” here are delicious, but the rolled omelets stand out as being particularly good. Their cloud-like fluffiness with the flavor of the broth go fantastic with the rice. Just one bite and you’re sure to be captivated by Sakai’s white rice and rolled omelets. Please be sure to try them together. For the second bowl of rice, try it with a splash of tea on top. If you’ve got room left in your stomach, ask for seconds and enjoy some rice with tea!
How to Order
The menu slightly changes from day to day. Also, the restaurant uses seasonal ingredients, so the menu also changes significantly from season to season. Please take some time to experience a meal at Sakai which will only be available to those who visit at that very time!
- Order Tips -
When you would like to order sake at the owner’s recommendation, ask him for the "osake" and "omakase".