13 Best Kaiseki Restaurants in Kyoto

Kyoto's Finest Kitchens fro Kaiseki Cuisine

Kyoto is renowned as the heartland of Kaiseki cuisine. This traditional Japanese dining experience, known for its seasonal focus and balance, features multiple courses each showcasing a different cooking technique. The best Kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto offer the chance to dive deep into this rich culinary art form, telling a story of time-honored traditions mixed with contemporary interpretations. In this article, we’ll guide you through a selection of these culinary hotspots that have raised the Kaiseki bar to new heights.

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1. Nakamura 

Nakamura restaurant in Kyoto
© 一子相伝 なかむら

Nakamura (なかむら) has been a culinary cornerstone in Kyoto for over 180 years, faithfully representing the best of traditional Kaiseki cuisine. Stepping through its white curtain entrance, you transition from the buzz of Oike Street to a realm of tranquility, graced with tatami rooms, Japanese gardens, and horigotatsu tables.

Chef Motokazu Nakamura, the current torchbearer of six generations of master chefs, combines his background in nutritional science with an unwavering commitment to premium local ingredients. This Michelin-starred establishment, which has been impressing patrons since 2011, also boasts some of the most exclusive regional sakes. Secure a reservation at Nakamura for a journey through Kyoto’s culinary history and the chance to taste dishes only possible here.

This restaurant is for you if you’re a connoisseur of history and tradition, seeking to immerse yourself in over 180 years of culinary heritage.

▶︎Make a reservation for Nakamura here!

2. Ryosho

Ryosho (凌霄) is one of the most prestigious restaurants in Kyoto, that received two Michelin stars shortly after opening in early 2022. The excellent Japanese cuisine by chef Fujiwara combines perfectly the traditional Japanese cuisine and the French cuisine, since the chef has experience in both cuisines.

The restaurant offer an omakase course consisting of 10 to 12 dishes prepared with carefully selected seasonal ingredients from local markets, and each dish is prepared fresh in front of the counter. The dishes can be enjoyed with a selection of over 700 different wines and a diverse range of Japanese sake. The restaurant is located in a quaint townscape in the center of Gion, Kyoto’s historic downtown area.

This restaurant is for you if you’re a culinary adventurer who delights in a fusion of Japanese and French cuisines.

▶︎Book your seat of Ryosho online in this link!

3. Miyawaki

Since opening in October 2022, the Japanese restaurant Miyawaki (宮脇) has been the center of attention and was selcted for Michelin Guide New Selection in the following year. The restaurant is owned by chef Miyawaki, who worked at the famous Michelin starred Japanese restaurant, Chihiro in Kyoto (which closed its door in 2022).

The Japanese cuisine is prepared by the chef is composed with tradition Japanese method sprinckled with unique ideas. The dishes are served with a wide selction of pottery and tableware which are collected by the owner little by litte since he started his cooking carrer, including Kyoto ware, lacquerware and French antique. The restaurant offers a great selection of sake including rare brands which perfectly goes with the dishes.​

This restaurant is for you if you cherish the artistry of Japanese cuisine mixed with unique, creative twists.

▶︎Book your seat at Miyawaki HERE!

4. Soujiki Nakahigashi

Soujiki Nakahigashi Restaurant in Kyoto
© 草喰なかひがし

At Soujiki Nakahigashi (草喰なかひがし), each day starts in the verdant fields of Kamigamo. Chef Hisao Nakahigashi cultivates a profound connection to nature at his restaurant, where he brings the mountain’s bounty directly to the plate, showcasing wild, seasonal ingredients in an “Omakase” style menu that changes daily. The flavors of Kyoto’s four seasons come alive in dishes that are an emblem of “omotenashi” hospitality.

This Michelin-starred establishment offers both counter seats for engaging with the chef and private tatami rooms on the second floor, providing an experience that truly caters to the heart and palate. Due to its immense popularity, securing a reservation is recommended well in advance.

This restaurant is for you if you’re a nature lover who seeks a deep connection to your food’s origins.

▶︎Make a reservation for Soujiki Nakahigashi here!

5. Mankamerou 

Mankamerou  restaurant in Kyoto
© Mankamerou

In a quaint corner of Kyoto’s Nishijin district, Mankamerou (萬亀楼) stands as a testament to centuries of culinary tradition. Founded in 1722 as a sake brewery, it transitioned into a restaurant under the same name. Today, helmed by the tenth-generation custodian, Takehiro Konishi, Mankamerou prides itself on steadfastness, wisdom, and humility.

With a lineage spanning nearly 300 years, this establishment embodies the essence of hospitality, aiming to bring a sense of devotion and warmth to each dish. It also holds the honor of officially inheriting the Ikuma-style kitchen knife and Yusoku cuisine from the Imperial Palace, adding an extra layer of cultural significance to the dining experience.

This restaurant is for you if you’re drawn to establishments with a rich lineage and a story to tell

▶︎Make a reservation for Mankamerou here!

6. Gion Matayoshi

Gion Matayoshi Restaurant in Kyoto

Gion Matayoshi (祇園又吉) embodies the spirit of cha-Kaiseki, serving the best of the season with an emphasis on dialogue with the customer. Tucked away in Gion Hanamikoji, this two-star Michelin restaurant offers an idyllic retreat from Kyoto’s bustling streets.

Chef Kazutomo Matayoshi, who previously held the title of head chef at a prestigious Japanese inn, curates an exquisite menu that harmonizes Okinawan culinary artistry with an unrivaled selection of sake. The establishment’s elegant Japanese ambiance and minimalist aesthetics reflect the perfect blend of tradition and innovation, making Gion Matayoshi a cornerstone of Kyoto’s fine dining scene.

This restaurant is for you if you’re intrigued by the blend of Okinawan culinary artistry and a top-notch selection of sake.

▶︎Make a reservation for Gion Matayoshi here!

7. Shinmonzen Yonemura

Shinmonzen Yonemura Restaurant in Kyoto
© 2019 Shinmonzen Yonemura

Shinmonzen Yonemura (新門前 米村よねむら), a culinary gem in Kyoto, stands as the testament to Chef Masayasu Yonemura’s creative prowess. Straddling the line between East and West, Yonemura offers a unique dining experience that blends the spirit of Japan with Western influences. The restaurant’s Omakase course, available for both lunch and dinner, is designed to stimulate the five senses, incorporating a mix of seasonal ingredients and expert techniques.

The venue is known for its inventive approach, presenting a symphony of flavors that defy traditional culinary categorizations. Born in Kyoto, Chef Yonemura’s work reflects his extensive training in Kyoto’s long-established restaurants, and his establishment’s recognition by the Michelin underscores his culinary accomplishments.

This restaurant is for you if you’re a fan of culinary innovation and enjoy a dining experience that stimulates all five senses.

▶︎Make a reservation for Yonemura here!

8.Wagokoro IZUMI

Wagokoro IZUMI Restaurant in Kyoto
© My Concierge Japan

Wagokoro IZUMI ( 和ごころ泉), established by the skilled apprentice of the iconic Kyoto eatery “Sakurada,” embodies the essence of Kyoto’s culinary traditions. Under the stewardship of owner Masaki Izumi, the restaurant relocated in 2016, preserving its focus on authentic Kyoto cuisine.

At its heart is the exquisite “dashi” (broth), carefully crafted with Rishiri kelp and Makurazaki bonito. This stock forms the cornerstone of Izumi’s cuisine, enhancing the natural flavors of the ingredients. The meal concludes with “cooked rice” served in a custom-made clay pot, which upon opening, releases a captivating seasonal aroma. Beyond just cuisine, Wagokoro IZUMI also offers a rich visual exploration of Japanese culture through its decor and historically significant tableware.

This restaurant is for you if you appreciate the subtleties of authentic Kyoto cuisine and the art of dashi.

▶︎Make a reservation for Wagokoro IZUMI here!

9. Iida

Iida restaurant in Kyoto
© 飯田

Set in a meticulously restored Sukiya-zukuri building from the early Showa period, Iida (飯田) offers an unmatched culinary voyage steeped in tradition and seasoned with unique creativity. Since opening its doors in 2010, Iida has carved a reputation as one of Kyoto’s best purveyors of Kaiseki cuisine, earning much sought-after Michelin stars.

Owner Shinichi Iida infuses every dish with his unique sensibility, using seasonal ingredients and time-honored Japanese pottery to create a multisensory dining experience that extends beyond mere taste. With this intricate interplay of artful cuisine and carefully selected ceramics, Iida engages all six senses, offering a tranquil respite from the world outside. A much sought-after culinary destination, the restaurant advises booking up to two years in advance for an unforgettable gastronomic journey.

This restaurant is for you if you want a sanctuary for those who seek a multisensory dining experience, where artful cuisine meets carefully selected ceramics.

▶︎Make a reservation for Iida here!

10. Mizai 

Mizai restaurant in Kyoto
© 未在

Nestled in Kyoto’s scenic Maruyama Park, Mizai (未在) invites food enthusiasts on an unforgettable journey through Kaiseki gastronomy. Chef Hitoshi Ishihara curates a menu with the most luxurious ingredients, earning him a well deserved spot among some of the most prominent restaurants of the Michelin guide.

At Mizai, dining is not only about pleasure but also communion. Every guest is served simultaneously, fostering a shared culinary experience. This symbiotic narrative is further enhanced with their matcha green tea, prepared with holy water from the nearby Yasaka Shrine, adding a spiritual dimension to the meal.

This restaurant is for you if you value not just the pleasure of dining but also the communion it brings, with Mizai’s shared culinary experience.

▶︎Make a reservation for Mizai here!

11. Kichisen

Kichisen restaurant in Kyoto
© 京懐石 吉泉

Rising from the ranks into the Michelin guide, Kichisen (吉泉) has proven its culinary prowess in the world of Kaiseki. Helmed by Chef Yoshimi Tanigawa, this establishment is known for its innovative explorations in court-style cuisine, health-conscious options, and fervent promotion of Kyoto-style gastronomy.

Exquisite Cha-Kaiseki style dishes, made with the freshest seasonal ingredients from all over Japan, fill the menu. From sashimi and sushi to intricate main courses, every creation is a visual and gustatory delight. A little away from the heart of Kyoto, Kichisen justifies the journey with an extraordinary gastronomic experience.

This restaurant is for you if you’re passionate about innovative explorations in court-style cuisine and health-conscious options.

▶︎Make a reservation for Kichisen here!

12. Mitsuyasu

Mitsuyasu Restaurant in Kyoto
© 光安

In the heart of ancient Kyoto lies Mitsuyasu (光安), a sanctuary where Chef Yuichi Mitsuyasu’s passion for Kaiseki cuisine comes to life. Located in a 150-year-old Kyomachiya townhouse, the restaurant welcomes only two groups per day, offering an intimate dining experience with a unique open kitchen style.

Chef Mitsuyasu meticulously prepares each dish, creating artful combinations of sea and mountain ingredients or highlighting the earth’s seasonal bounties in imaginative ways. It’s a space that marries the tranquility of Kyoto with the transformative power of Kaiseki cuisine, creating a healing haven for both weary travelers and busy professionals.

This restaurant is for you if you’re seeking an intimate dining experience where the chef’s passion for Kaiseki cuisine is evident in every artful dish.

▶︎Make a reservation for Mitsuyasu here!

13. Fukiage

Fukiage restaurant in Kyoto
© ふきあげ

Nestled in the Nishigamo area of Kyoto, Fukiage (ふきあげ) is a renowned restaurant known for its intimate dining experience. With a policy of welcoming only one group of guests per day, the restaurant guarantees a personal touch. Spearheaded by Kazuhiro Fukiage, guests can delight in meticulously crafted seasonal dishes in the traditional zashiki seating on the second floor or indulge in sushi prepared personally by the owner at the counter.

Set in a sukiya-style detached house on a hill, Fukiage offers stunning views of Hiei mountains and Kyoto city. The establishment strives to provide a luxurious experience that transcends the price, promising a memorable experience for every diner.

This restaurant is for you if you’re looking for an intimate dining experience with a personal touch, set against stunning views of the Hiei mountains and Kyoto city.

▶︎Make a reservation for Fukiage here!

Experiencing Kyoto’s culinary scene takes one on a journey through time, exploring traditional flavors and innovative fusion. Each restaurant, unique in its approach, cherishes seasonality and craftsmanship, providing not just a meal but a cultural immersion. A visit is a feast for the senses, capturing the soul and spirit of Japan.

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Written by

Photographer, journalist, and avid urban cyclist, making sense of Japan since 2017. I was born in Caracas and lived for 14 years in Barcelona before moving to Tokyo. Currently working towards my goal of visiting every prefecture in Japan, I hope to share with readers the everlasting joy of discovery and the neverending urge to keep exploring.