Toraya has the most ass-kicking, garlicky motsunabe in Kyoto
The winters in Kyoto are as cold as the summers are hot. And is there anything better than hot pot for these cold winter months? Actually, there is. And that something would have to be motsunabe, meaning garlicky beef offal hot pot. You have beef offal, cabbage, onion, garlic and garlic chive, bean sprouts, and burdock, among other ingredients. Toraya is a restaurant in Kyoto located in the atmospheric and old restaurant and bar alley of Ponto-cho, and although it has only been in business since 2003, it has already become one of the most famous motsunabe restaurants in Kyoto.
Beef offal hot pot
/ ￥1500 + tax
The classic motsunabe. There is nothing better than garlicky motsunabe when the weather gets cold, but there is a catch to this, as Toraya is so popular, it may be a good idea to have their hot pot in the hot summer months when you sometimes don’t have to line up at all.
The garlicky, strong taste of motsunabe has some mellowness to it because of the white miso base. The sweetness of the miso contrasts nicely with the garlic. They also have many seasonings to enjoy with the hot pot like yuzu-pepper, but be careful with these as the taste of the hot pot is pretty potent even without adding anything to it.
Stewed beef tendon with egg
/ ￥780 + tax
While this dish is made using beef tendon, the tendons are not even chewy: they just melt in your mouth. The taste is quite strong, but you also get an egg with the beef, and the egg has also sucked up all those tasty beef tendon juices, making it a creamy treat straight from heaven. If you just get one thing from their a la carte menu, I recommend you make it this one.
Deep fried tofu
/ ￥780 + tax
This dish truly looks like what a traditional Kyoto-dish should look like. You have deep fried tofu, chopped green onion, and a soy sauce based sauce to pour on the tofu. This dish may look simple, but the taste is everything but: you have the sweetness of tofu, but you also have the tanginess of the green onion and the saltiness of the sauce to mix things up. The taste is also not as strong as many of the other dishes, so this tofu-dish makes a nice change from them.
After eating the spicy hot pot, it’s nice to have something as a dessert. At Toraya you can get their warabi-mochi, a chilled rice cake that has a jelly-like texture. For those who like Japanese sweets, this is a classic you can’t pass.