advertisement

Temples, Japanese restaurants, and boutiques have long been the draws of Higashiyama-ku, so it comes as somewhat of a pleasant surprise to find an Italian restaurant—especially one of this caliber and in this setting—amongst their midst. It occupies a 1929 villa that once served as residence, studio, and garden of Seiho Takeuchi, whose family owned a restaurant in nearby Arashiyama and who was a well-known master of the sparse nihonga style of painting. With a somewhat rustic yet refined atmosphere and with dining rooms overlooking the dense garden, the restaurant serves reasonably priced weekday lunches that change according to what's fresh and in season. I opted for the ¥2,800 lunch, which came with an appetizer, sweet-potato soup, carbonara pasta with bacon and spinach, a choice of six main dishes (I had the grilled chicken cacciatore), dessert, and coffee; it was plenty enough for me. In addition to set meals for dinner, an English-language a-la-carte menu offers choices like spaghettini with sea urchins and clams, stewed pork and savoy cabbage in a red-wine sauce, and char-grilled lamb with salsa verde. Be sure to take a look around the garden after your meal, and because this is understandably a popular venue for weddings and private parties, be sure to call for reservations to make sure they're open.