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Kyoto Restaurant Picks

  • chicken balls with sudachi
  • eggpland and chicken neck
  • fresh tofu with olive oil and sea salt
  • grilled eringi
  • onigiri
  • grilled yellow tomato
  • negi and chicken thigh
  • salt grilled edamame
  • tskune
  • grilled rice cakes

Unagi Notoyo

Yanagibaba-hairu, Nishikoji-dori
Chhuo Ku, Kyoto

In the middle of Nishiki Market, this old school Unagi house does an amazing job with wild caught eel. Perfectly grilled, excellent rice, pickles and atmosphere.
The wild eel don will set you back about 50$ but once you taste it you will never groove on farm raised eel again.

Kyohama Saku


My business card did not have the address listed…But, this is a georgeous little tofu restaurant complete with tatami mats and Japanese garden. I had a great lunch here. Do the omakase set enjoy the view

Giro Giro

420-7 Nanba-cho

There has been a lot written about this place-so much so that the success has let them open outlets in Paris and Hawaii. For the most part all the praise is warranted. It offers a modern take on Kaiseki that is a welcome breath of fresh air. I love Kaiseki but its such a commitment and quite formal and for me really only for special occasions as its price can be quite steep. The degustation menu at Giro Giro will set you back only about 50$and you will be dazzled. Sit at the counter and watch the chefs work-the location is amazing and right down the street is a number of small bars (see below) that you can stumble in and out of after your tasting. A great experience!


43-4 Higashi Tennou-dho, Okazaki
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

If you are not into meat/wild game don’t bother with this old school joint. There is smoked bear meat, horse sashimi, smoked venison and the like-great food with sake or beer. I also had mushrooms and green onions grilled on a hoba leaf-that was excellent. Oh by the way, I forgot to mention the grasshoppers and maggots cooked in sweet soy-much like the tskudani or small fish cooked in sweet soy. Actually quite tasty.

Rukuchu-tei (kushikatsu and wine)

Ponto-cho, Agaru Higashigawa
Shijyo, Chuo-ku, Kyoto

On the river with a cool outdoor patio this place serves excellent, modern kushikatsu or skewered and fried foods. They have a great wine list but I prefer to drink beer with this food. Best to do an “omakase” experience and let them show you their stuff. On arecent visit I had ground fava beans topped with tonburi that was over the top and crispy asparagus with poached egg that was too sexy. It’s a bit hard to find as this ally way is so jam packed with restaurants you can walk by it and not even know. Still, seek it out!!


Nishi-koji muromachi higashi hairu
Chuo-ku, Kyoto

This place is part of a small restaurant group. The have solid Italian food-kyoto style which means when you get seared sirloin over white beans and tomatoes its done with wagyu and when you get home made Italian sausage the pork used is kagoshima black pig.

Jampack-Bar de Espana

515 Miyuki 1F

A solid little tapas bar-modern food, good wine list and cool decor. I suggest starting an evening here with some tapas and rally from there or, go late night as they are open until 1am for a nightcap and some jammon. A note-the tortilla was weak but everything else I tried was solid.

Gion Yata

Shinbashi-higashi hairu
Yamato Oji dori, Higashi-ku, Kyoto

Very solid food here at this modern izakaya. The setting, in Gion, is amazing and the food and service were very memorable. The wagyu salad with radish and chrysanthemum, tskune with onsen egg, and fresh tofu was over the top.


Kawabata-dori, Shiyo-agaru-higashizume,

A small, modern yakitory shop right around the corner from the Kyoto Kabuki Theater. Excellent use of all things chicken. The grilled chicken testicles was a first for me-quite and interesting texture and interesting sensation that made me a bit woozy for about15 seconds (a very Pete Schwetty experience). The tskune, grilled edemame, chicken neck and spring eggplant were all over the top. One of the best places I have eaten in Kyoto.


Across the street from the Kabuki theater there is an old school restaurant that, like many places in Japan, puts a beer bar on the roof.
It’s a great sight to look out over Kyoto with a cool brew and enjoy the summer breeze.

Congo Bongo

As I said in the Giro Giro review-there is a bunch of bars in this hood and we stumbled in this place and wound up boozing til 4 am (they close at 5). Nothing too special but the bar keep was really cool and very cute. Do Not Go



This pseudo tapas bar is downtown west of the river near Takeshimaya. I went there in the hopes of getting some iberico ham and tempranillo. They have no idea what they are doing at this restaurant-the food sucks-(slicing ham with a pairing knife and giving people thick slivers that are akin to jerky), the service is over extended Kyoto snobbery. Rarely am I pushed to a place where I have to say fuck you to the staff but that is how bad my experience was here. I hate this place, the staff and the people that eat there.

Honke Owariya

Any of the outlets!

They say that they have been doing soba since 1465-well its time to hang up the shingle and call it closed. The noodles and broth were insipid and the atmosphere very touristy. There are many other places you can go for proper soba-seek them out and bypass here.

Osaka Restaurant Picks


3-1- Namba Cho-Me
Chuo-ku, Osaka-city

A tiny restaurant down a back ally-hard to find!!! You really need to get introduced to eat here but, maybe if you try to have your hotel call, they can get you in. This is chicken restaurant that has been doing there thing for 40 years. The crispy chicken wingsand fried chicken neck skin were a revelation as well as the soy braised thigh-excellent. The place is so old school that they still use an ice box!

Kanae Sushi

2-2-8 Shikitsu Higashi
Naniwa-ku, Osaka-city

This old school sushi bar is located in the depths of Kizu Ichiban Market. They have been serving raw fish and the like for about 90 years. The surrounding market is excellent as well-very good selection of local vegetables and fish. Best to go in the morning-have a look around the market and then sit down to some Osaka style sushi.


4-21 Sennichimae
Namba, Chao-ku, Osaka-city

A modern-quick service sushi bar with a young and passionate chef. I had 2 quick lunches here-the chirashi don was excellent and the chilled somen noodles were a great summer treat. The second lunch I had there, I was privy to some outrageous o-toro.

Sushi Kaiba

1-15-22 Kitahorie
Nishi-ku, Osaka-city
Modern restaurant doing great sushi. Go look at the seafood display and go from there. This place is part of a small restaurant group-the other place they run is a modern Italian called Rosanera. I went there and had dessert-excellent but pricy.


1-7-7 Dohtonbori, Chuo-ku

Doing yakitory as it should be!

Bar 45

5-24 Toyotsu-cho

This place is a bit off the grid and away from downtown. Its owned by a good friend of mine’s mom who has set up a comfortable-home style restaurant in her living room. Her food is inventive and delicious. If you happen to find this place, tell her Brad from Chicago sent you-have her cook omakase style and enjoy one of the most unique experiences to be had.

Yae-katsu (kushi katsu)

3-4-13 Ebisuhigashi
Naniwa-ku, Osaka

A very working class neighborhood and very working class-stick to your ribs food. All things fried is the order of the day. One note-don’t double dip your skewers into the communal sauce!!


Osakushi, Cho-ku
Shinsaibashisuji 2-8-1
Matsumaeya Suboumachi Building

Chinese food-solid flavors but the thing to get is the gyoza and the black sesame tantan mien (krogomae tantan mien) spicy, rich, full of flavor-excellent!

Poron Poron

1-22-26 Kitahorie
Nishi-ku, Osaka

A Spanish place in Japan owned and cheffed by my Indian friend Bunny. Sounds like the place is in New York with a mixture like that. Tell him I sent you and let him take care. Food is very solid and its always a really fun crowd.

Room Café

1Bf 5th Nakamura Kousan Bldg.
1-29-16 Shinmachi, Nishiki-Ku

A very personal space run by a young women with deep dedication to her work. The food is typical washoku or home style and she changes the menu often. She makes a lot of her own pottery and plates, has a great little cookbook and has been successful creating an extremely personal aesthetic. The prices are very reasonable-I wish the economics of working in the states would allow for expressions such as this.

Sushi Kyu

kita horie residence
1 cho me 14-19 kitahorie, nishi ku,
osaka shi
06 6534 0269

Cannot remember the phone # of this place. Its been there for 25 years-husband and wife team doing great home style sushi. They do some great shochu as well as home made ume-shu. That one only comes out if she feels your worthy. I had such an amazing evening here-by the end of the night cameras were being passed around and photos taken of patrons and hosts we all did not want to forget the evening.

Endo Sushi

1-1-86 Noda Fukushima-ku
Osaka City Osaka
Tel: 06-6469-7108
Incredible little place on the outskirts of Osaka Chuo Ichiba Market-you sit down and get the omakase set and then order your individual pieces. Excellent Osaka style-go after your morning market visit.

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