The Best Kyoto Steakhouses.
Although Kobe is the city of wagyu beef breeding, Tokyo is still the capital of food in Japan.
Since the majority of wagyu beef raised all over the country is delivered to restaurants in Tokyo, you will be able to find great steak in the steak and barbecue restaurants of Tokyo when visiting Japan. However, there are actually 2 top steak restaurants in Kyoto which restaurateurs and food enthusiasts in Tokyo visit just for their steak.
In this exclusive article specially for our readers, TokyoTableTrip shall introduce these 2 restaurants that are still mostly unknown to foreign tourists.
Miyoshi is located in a traditional wooden townhouse building tucked away in a corner of the Gion district. The modest yet impressive shopfront is characteristic of a prestigious Japanese restaurant in Kyoto.
The dim interior has a soft and quiet atmosphere, and has 6 counter seats facing the owner, and 12 table seats. The moderate size and contemporary Japanese-style furnishings give off a calming vibe.
The owner Ito, who immerses himself in preparing the food at the counter, greets the customers. The young chef, with his dignified features leaving a memorable impression, actually self-learned his skills of preparing meat.
The style of this restaurant is actually more of a Japanese restaurant rather than a steakhouse.
The full course at Miyoshi starts off with a wagyu beef appetizer and soup, then goes on to shabu-shabu, a rice dish, and steak prepared from the part of the cow chosen by the diners, and ending off with dessert. All of the above dishes are fusion dishes created with the freshest seasonal ingredients, making it stand out from regular full courses at Japanese steakhouses which are usually prepared teppanyaki-style.
The price of the set course depends on the parts of the meat that are used on that day, but usually ranges about ¥20,000 to ¥30,000.
Apparently it is also possible to ask for an omakase meal at a higher price as well. (Chef Ito is apparently also as particular about truffles as he is to meat, and a set course meal that uses white truffles picked in early autumn will see the price increase by quite a bit.)
The wagyu beef used at Miyoshi are all branded wagyu ordered directly from trustworthy producers from Kyoto, Kobe and Shiga. Amongst all, the chef seems to be especially close to the people at Kobe’s Kawagishi Wagyu Farm, and hence most diners will get to taste premium Kobe beef raised at this farm at the restaurant.
Specialty Number 1: Beef Tongue Marinated in Kombu Kelp
Served first in the set course is the signature dish of Miyoshi. This is the root part of beef tongue prepared the previous day that has been marinated in kombu kelp for about 3-4 hours.
Sprinkle some finely chopped shio-kombu onto the thinly sliced tongue, wrap the meat around your chopsticks, and have a bite after dipping it into some homemade ponzu sauce. The smooth texture of the glistening tongue meat, and the bursts of sweetness with every bite of the meat will definitely give you a pleasant surprise.
Specialty Number 2: Shabu-shabu
The meat served in Miyoshi’s shabu-shabu is a beautiful shade of pink. With the beef expert Chef Ito dipping the meat into the dashi broth for the perfect amount of time, the meat is transformed into fragrant and flavourful beef like magic.
The delicious taste of the shabu-shabu dipped into homemade ponzu sauce will make you smile in bliss unknowingly…
Specialty Number 3: Steak
The finale of the course is the long-awaited steak.
All of the meat used in Miyoshi’s steaks are from heifer cows that have been fattened over a long period of time (36-42 months). This is the ultimate luxurious treat, to taste premium wagyu beef as steak.
The steak is prepared by grilling the thick slices of meat slowly over a charcoal grill, which gives off far infrared rays.
Both the fillet (chateaubriand), which gives off a delicate flavour, and the sirloin, which has an explosive and heavy flavour, are equally delicious, making it difficult to choose between the two…(If you visit as a group of more than 2 people, you will be able to enjoy a few various parts at once.)
Specialty Number 4: Tamago Kake Gohan (Egg on Rice)
The tamago kake gohan was what we were secretly looking forward to during our visit to Miyoshi.
Although the egg looked like a normal egg at first sight, but we later realized that it had the fragrance of truffles… (Apparently if you keep eggs with truffles in the same container for a certain amount of time, the smell of the truffles will be transferred to the eggs as well.)
The flavourful yolk eaten with white rice was delicious in an entirely different way from the meat, and we gobbled it down with no problem despite thinking that we were already full from the steak.
Miyoshi will be heaven to any meat-lover.
Regular food like steak and shabu-shabu is sublimed into excellent Japanese food using the delicate sense and techniques of Japanese cooking.
Foodies, you should not be satisfied with just regular Japanese steakhouses (teppanyaki) in Kyoto! You should definitely make a trip to Miyoshi as soon as you can!
Address:570-15 Minamigawa Gion-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Contrary to Miyoshi, Kuishinbo Yamanaka is a steakhouse that allows diners to enjoy premium wagyu beef using extremely straightforward cooking methods. It is located about 20 minutes away by train from central Kyoto.
Tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, this place looks like any ordinary steakhouse, but the food here is definitely good enough to be one of the top 5 steakhouses in Japan.
There are even quite a few fans of this place who go all the way to Kyoto every month from Tokyo just to eat here.
What is most unique about this restaurant is the owner Yamanaka’s eye for beef.Yamanaka is against the practice of producing pink and marbled meat by making the beef unhealthy through vitamin deprivation, and firmly believes that truly delicious beef can only be found in healthy beef.
Therefore, he only uses heifer beef that has been painstakingly fattened for 38 months at the farms operated by his acquaintances.
All of the meat used here at Kuishinbo Yamanaka are all of a deep reddish colour.
“This is the texture and colour of healthy beef raised on quality feed for a long period of time,” says Yamanaka proudly.
Yamanaka is also doubtful of the process of meat curing.
According to him, the most important factors of meat when preparing steak is the lustre and firmness of the meat, and these are best when the meat is fresh.Although usually meats are cured for about 2 weeks after slaughter, at Kuishinbo Yamanaka, only fresh meat is used within 2-5 days after slaughter.
Since many local residents visit this restaurant, the lunch course at Kuishinbo Yamanaka is extremely reasonably priced.
The steak course meal that is only available during lunch is only priced at ¥6,000.Although you may be attracted to how value-for-money this lunch course is, we would strongly recommend that you enjoy Yamanaka’s true ability (the omakase meal) if you are already going there.(The omakase meal will cost you about ¥30,000 to fill up your stomach.)
Specialty Number 1: Consommé Soup
The meal at Kuishinbo Yamanaka starts off with a beautiful cold consommé soup.“There is just one trick to making good soup. To use a generous amount of beef of the finest quality.”Yamanaka says, and this soup that he makes with the generous use of premium beef is full of beef essence.
The taste of all the beef juices melting into the soup is truly unique.
Specialty Number 2: Hamburg Steak
This is something you definitely want to try at Kuishinbo Yamanaka, and is the best hamburg steak in the whole of Japan in TokyoTableTrip’s books.When speaking of hamburg steak, it is usually grilled until the surface of the meat has a slightly crunchy texture in order to seal in the flavours of the meat, but the hamburg steak here is soft and tender. The runny egg, thick demi-glace sauce, and the meat which has a soft sweetness to it strikes a perfect harmony together.
Specialty Number 3: Beef Cutlet
This is a standard dish that is made using fillets with a delicate texture.The flavour from the meat steamed inside the breading is absolutely irresistible. When eaten with salt, the natural flavour of the meat is brought out by the salt, and when eaten with the special demi-glace sauce, the slight sourness of the sauce brings out the sweetness of the meat.
Specialty Number 4: Steak
It is finally time for the steak.
As if he was an experienced sushi chef, Yamanaka made sure that the beef taken out from the fridge was at room temperature before he started to grill it. According to him, just like fish, meat will also have a better texture when warmed to room temperature.
Taking a bite of the bouncy steak grilled on the iron grill, a rich flavour that I had never experienced before hit my taste buds together with the beautiful texture. It was so impactful that I wanted to exclaim how good it was.
Although the taste of the steak at Kuishinbo Yamanaka lingers in your mouth for a long time, it is unique in the sense that it has a clean aftertaste.
The fats of the beef here have a low melting point of around 24 degrees (regular wagyu beef fats melt at a temperature higher than the average human body temperature), and hence it does not feel heavy on the stomach at all.
Just like at Miyoshi, you definitely want to try both the fillet and the sirloin here as well.
Although there are many good restaurants and steakhouses in Japan, the country of gourmet food, there are only a handful of restaurants where you can have a truly memorable food experience that will change your outlook and presumptions on food.
Being able to have such an experience at an ordinary-looking steakhouse hidden in a corner of a Kyoto residential neighbourhood far away from the usual sightseeing spots…this is why we cannot stop our constant hunt for good food…
Address:26-26 Goryoumizoura-cho Nishikyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Opening hours:11:30～14:00（L.O.13:45） 17:00～21:00（L.O.20:45）
Holiday:Tuesday, 3rd Monday
What were your thoughts?
Although Miyoshi and Kuishinbo Yamanaka are steakhouses with completely contrasting styles, we feel that what the two restaurants have in common are the owners’ burning feelings and passion for beef.
If any of our readers here are scheduled to travel to Kyoto, we sincerely hope that you can enjoy the best steak in Japan prepared by the true masters instead of settling for regular teppanyaki steak at restaurants like Benihana.