This is one of my favorite restaurants of all time due to its idyllic location on the Kamo River, its historic ambience, its innovative cuisine, and the welcoming personality of master-chef/owner Teruo Inoue, who has been creating his own take on fusion cuisine long before it became fashionable. Trained by a three-star Michelin chef, Inoue is a genius at blending classic French cuisine with Japanese ingredients, creating a style best described as French kaiseki. Served on Kyoto tableware, his dishes are like works of art, beautifully arranged to please both the eye and the palate. The restaurant, open since 1981, occupies a century-old former teahouse on Pontocho that once belonged to a geisha. It offers several options for dining: an L-shaped counter with tatami seating and leg wells; private tatami rooms; a casual counter offering a-la-carte dishes and the opportunity to watch the chef at work; and, my favorite, an outdoor summer veranda extending over the Kamo River. Three dinners and four lunch sets are available, but chef Inoue always asks about allergies and preferences and makes changes accordingly. One of the delights of dining here is the English-speaking staff, who explain each dish as it's presented. Mr. Inoue travels to France every year to buy wine directly from the Bourgogne region and to commission chocolate from a Parisian chocolatier. Note that a 10% service charge is added to meals taken at the L-shaped counter and on the veranda, while a 15% service charge is added to meals in private tatami rooms (the casual a-la-carte counter doesn't add a service charge). Reservations are required; for lunch, you're asked to make reservations not less than a day before your intended visit.
Sanjo-sagaru, Pontocho, Nakagyo-ku
Our Rating Neighborhood East (river side) of Pontochoside of Kamo River, north of the playground Hours Tues–Sun 11:30am–1:30pm and 5:30–8:30pm (last order); closed Dec 31–Jan 6 Transportation Bus: 4, 5, 17, or 205 to Kawaramachi Sanjo (5 min.) Phone 075/221-2270 Prices Set dinners ¥15,750–¥31,500, set lunches ¥4,725–¥13,650 Cuisine Type French Kaiseki Web site Misoguigawa (禊川)
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