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If you're going to eat sushi, a dish that epitomizes Japanese cuisine, why not enjoy it at lunch spots that offer great value both in the price and place? Check out these 10 restaurants where you can enjoy a sushi lunch in one of the country's top sightseeing destinations, Kyoto.
1. Sushi Matsumoto (Gion-shijo / Sushi)
This is a well-known sushi restaurant located in the Gion area that has a strong Kyoto vibe. Their seafood, which is directly delivered from markets each morning, must meet the strict standards of the proprietor in order for the restaurant to "provide only the best every day." To this end, they also consider not just where the fish are caught, but when they begin to store fat or when their meat is the most delicious. To draw out the taste of the ingredients, they adapt different cooking methods like roasting or simmering and also adjust the salt depending on the day. The rice and seasonings used are also carefully selected and procured from all over Japan, so what you get is a well-balanced taste from their dishes. If you want to enjoy lunch with a bit of luxury, then this is the place to be.
Open: Lunch (Monday, Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays) 12:00 am - 2:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm) / Dinner 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 20,000 JPY / [Lunch] 9,000 JPY
Access: 5 minutes walk from Gionshijo Station on Keihan Main Line
Address: 570-123, Gionmachi-Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto (Map)
2. Nontaro Tomo (Gion-shijo / Sushi)
Nontaro Tomo is a famous sushi place that has continued the traditional flavors and techniques of a long-established restaurant that has operated for more than 50 years in Gion. Inside the spacious interior, there are just 8 counter seats, allowing guests to feel at ease. Enjoy your meal while relaxing in the bright space with light emanating from outside. The ingredients used are in-season and purchased from a reputable seafood store. They carefully select and offer seafood that is in the best condition. A must-try here is their [Chef's Lunch Recommendation], a set meal of 10 pieces of sushi and miso soup. They also have English menus, so you can easily order away!
Open: [Wednesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
[Tuesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Dinner 5:00 pm - 12:00 am
Average price: [Dinner] 10,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,000 JPY
Access: From exit No.7 of [Gion Shijo Station], go east along Shijo-dori Street, then Turn left at Hanamikoji-dori Street. Go straight for 2 minutes then it is on the third floor of the building with LAWSON on the first floor.
Address: 3F, Nontaro Bldg., 357, Kiyomoto-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto (Map)
3. Nijo Kizuki (Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae / Japanese Cuisine)
At Nijo Kizuki, enjoy great-tasting sushi that is meticulously prepared and beautifully plated. The seafood is procured by the owner directly from the market, and only the freshest ingredients are used. To further bring out the charm of the ingredients, they apply elaborate techniques like incorporating the flavor of kelp to the fish. All their dishes are course meals. For a lunch course, savor a diversity of tastes with 6 pieces of sushi, which are recommended by the chef, along with an appetizer and another dish specially made for the day. You can also have a glass of wine for 300 JPY or other drinks that are exclusively served during lunch at good-value prices.
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday] Lunch 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm) / Dinner 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 6,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,500 JPY
Access: Go to the east for approximately 15 meters along with Nijoyanagibaba Street, then on the 1st floor of the condominium on the south side facing to Nijo Street. (Across the street is [Nijo Orthopedic Clinic])
Address: 1F, Vine Oak Fine, 659, Seimeicho, Yanagibaba Higashiiru, Nijodori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto (Map)
4. Japanese Restaurant Mai (Kyoto / Japanese Cuisine)
This popular restaurant is in a great location being a 1-minute walk from Kyoto Station. The place contains a variety of rooms, including private and semi-private rooms, to accommodate the different needs of the customers, The dishes are prepared with seasonal seafood of superior freshness that comes from various regions, such as the high-quality sekisaba (a variety of mackerel) and sekiaji (a variety of horse mackerel) delivered straight from the chef's hometown of Oita in the Kyushu region. Lunch comes in various set meals, like the must-try [Sushi Set Meal]. Aside from 7 kinds of nigiri sushi (hand-formed sushi), the set meals include noodle dishes like udon, as well as dessert and more.
Japanese Restaurant Mai
Open: Lunch 11:30 to 14:30 operating throughout the New Year's holidays Dinner 17:00 to 23:30 (last order 22:30) Last order for drinks 23:00
Breakfast 06:30 to 10:00 operating throughout the New Year's holidays
Cafe 10:00 to 11:30 operating throughout the New Year's holidays
Average price: [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Access: One minute walk from Hachijo East exit of Kyoto station, on every JR line, or on the Kyoto City Subway Karasuma line or Kintetsu Kyoto line.
Address: El Inn Kyoto 1F, 13 Higashi Kujo Higashi Sannou-cho , Minami-ku,Kyoto-shi , Kyoto (Map)
5. Kakuredokoro Shunsai Sengyo Sanji (Karasuma Oike / Izakaya)
This famous izakaya serves a diversity of dishes made with seafood that were freshly caught with methods like pole fishing. Take pleasure in their extensive menu, ranging from common dishes to ones that gleam with creativity. One example is their [Tai Shabu], a hot pot dish that you eat by dipping the tai (sea bream) into the dashi (broth). The sea bream, which is directly delivered from fishermen, has an exceptional freshness. At lunchtime, they provide a selection of set menus. Among the recommended ones are the [Kaisen-don with Miso Soup], a dish with sashimi on top of a rice bowl, and their daily set meals that are limited to 20 orders per day.
Kakuredokoro Shunsai Sengyo Sanji
Open: [Tuesday - Sunday] Dinner: 5pm - 12 midnight (last order 11:30pm)
[Tuesday - Friday] Lunch: 11:30am - 1:30pm *Lunch service is not available on public holidays.
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY / [Lunch] 800 JPY
Access: Four minute walk from Karasuma Oike Station. Head down Karasumadori street toward Marutamachi, turn right at Nijodori street, and it will be a little ways down on the left. The sign is a chinese paper lantern.
Address: Nijo Coop 1F, 40 Matsuya-cho, Nijodori, Takakura Nishi-iru , Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto (Map)
6. Daiki-Suisan Kaiten-Zushi (Kyoto / Kaitenzushi)
This is a well-known kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) spot situated in the city's symbol, Kyoto Tower. To ensure they can get fresh seafood from anywhere around the country at all times, they came up with their own logistics system. The lineup of toppings is abundant, ranging from staples to unique varieties. Great dishes to try are the signature dish [Hon Maguro Toro] (fatty part of Pacific Bluefin Tuna), which almost melts in your mouth, and the fresh [Aurora Salmon], directly procured from Norway. They also have plenty of a-la-carte items like the [Tako no Karaage] (deep-fried octopus).
Open: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Average price: [Dinner] 1,400 JPY
Access: 2 minutes walk from the central exit of JR Kyoto Station, in Kyoto Tower
Address: 721-1, Higashishio-Koji Cho, Karasuma Dori Shichijo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
7. Ichirin (Gion-shijo / Creative Cuisine)
This is a well-known sushi restaurant located in the Gion area that has a strong Kyoto vibe. Their seafood, which is directly delivered from markets each morning, must meet the strict standards of the proprietor for the restaurant to "provide only the best every day." To this end, they also consider not just where the fish are caught, but when they begin to store fat or when their meat is the most delicious. To draw out the taste of the ingredients, they adopt different cooking methods like roasting or simmering and also adjust the salt depending on the day. The rice and seasonings used are also carefully selected and procured from all over Japan, so what you get is a well-balanced taste from their dishes. If you want to enjoy lunch with a bit of luxury, then this is the place to be.
Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 6,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPY
Address: 114, Tominaga-cho, Yasaka-shinchi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Source: hitosara (Japanese)
8. Roji Nakano (Gion-shijo / Sushi)
Roji Nakano is situated in the neighborhood of Miyagawa, where an old and refined Japanese ambience pervades, as evident with the common presence of maiko (apprentice geisha) wandering about. You'll discover this popular restaurant tucked away in a quaint alley. Their signature dish of [Sushi] is delicately prepared, with the rice even cooked in an iron pot only when the guests have arrived. It is then seasoned with vinegar, providing a gentle acidity, and salt, adding a milder flavor. When this sushi rice called "shari" is combined with their seasonal seafood, the result is a creation full of umami (Japanese savory taste). Moreover, there are many other Japanese dishes worth tasting like the [Omi Beef Sukiyaki], a hot pot stew with a scent of truffle that enhances the flavor of the meat. At lunchtime, have their [Chirashi Sushi* Set], which is limited to 15 orders per day.
*Unlike common variants like nigiri sushi and makizushi (rolled sushi), this type of sushi is eaten in a bowl, with raw slices of seafood scattered on top of rice.
Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, Dinner from 5:30 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPY
Address: 5-325-1, Miyagawa-suji, Miyagawa-suji Matsubara-agaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Source: hitosara (Japanese)
9. Aoba (Fukuchiyama / Sushi)
In the Fukuchiyama area in northern Kyoto, you'll find this popular sushi restaurant. Standing on a quiet street just a few steps away from a shopping arcade, Aoba lets you enjoy delicious sushi in a calm ambience, being away from the hustle and bustle. Set menus are the featured dishes for lunch, such as the [Sushi Gozen], a combination of sushi as the main dish, tempura, and dessert (reservations required). Most of their seats offer a view of a Japanese garden as you leisurely dine. For dinner, a great dish to try is their [Chef's Recommendation Course], which features a profusion of seasonal ingredients.
Open: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm) *Lunch is only served to those who reserved it at least 2 days in advance
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,500 JPY
Address: 42-1, Aza Nakano, Fukuchiyama-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Source: hitosara (Japanese)
10. Sushi Tenguzakura (Matsuiyamate / Kaiseki)
This popular restaurant is located in the Matsuiyamate area in the southern part of Kyoto. Its head chef, who had worked at a two-star ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant serving high-class dishes), applies his refined techniques in creating sushi and several other Japanese dishes. The ingredients used are mainly fresh seafood carefully selected by the head chef in markets, which guests can enjoy through the restaurant's sushi, sashimi, and other dishes. For lunch*, try their set meals where you can choose the main dish from [5 Kinds of Recommended Sushi] or [4 Types of Sashimi].
*Lunch service may not be available depending on the cooking preparations and other conditions. Also, please note that the restaurant will not be open for lunch on Tuesday.
Open: [Tuesday - Saturday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm (last entry)
[Sunday] 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm (last entry)
Closed: Monday *Will open on Monday in case of national holidays, and closed on the following day
Average price: 7,000 JPY
Address: 104, Muse Court, 2-1, Kinmeidai Chuo, Yawata-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Source: hitosara (Japanese)
Kyoto has a plethora of wonderful attractions. When touring the city, make sure to enjoy a delectable sushi lunch in any of the restaurants in the list above.