The 7 Best Sushi Restaurants in Kyoto
You want to carefully vet sushi restaurants before going out to eat in Kyoto, which is said to have "very few great sushi restaurants."
This article will introduce you to some hidden gems of Kyoto's sushi restaurants that are even worth the trip from abroad to visit.
From authentic Edo-mae sushi made by up-and-coming young chefs to old-fashioned sushi made by living national treasure chefs, be sure to try one of these restaurants from our varied lineup!
1. Gion Sushi Tadayasu
This hot sushi restaurant opened in Gion in April of 2017.
Right after opening, this restaurant began garnering plenty of attention from Kyoto locals, quickly becoming a popular restaurant with hard-to-obtain reservations.
The traditionally-constructed ceiling, made without using any nails to hold it together, and the engraved icebox contribute to the sense of luxury here, where Chef Tadayasu Morita, who previously worked at famous Shinjuku restaurant "Sagane," crafts his sushi.
As he strives to bring authentic Edo-mae sushi to Kyoto, all of the fish used by the chef is sourced from Tsukiji Market brokers.
Chef Morita pairs his fish, aged with his own unique techniques to bring out its natural umami flavors, with sushi rice seasoned with red vinegar, similar to that used during his time in Tokyo.
The seasonings used are comparatively sweet thanks to the sugar used, and the resulting flavor is popular with locals who are used to sushi varieties such as "oshizushi" (pressed sushi) and "mackerel bo-sushi."
The lunch menu features two options: 10 pieces of nigiri for 6000 yen, and 13 pieces of nigiri for 13000 yen.
We recommend the 6000-yen course for first-time visitors thanks to its outstanding value.
Sushi Tadayasu is also located conveniently for sightseeing, as there are plenty of shops to visit along Hanamikoji-dori.
Be sure to give lunch here a try as a break from your sightseeing in Kyoto! (Reservations required)
★Gion Sushi Tadayasu
Address: 572-9 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 5,000-14,999 yen (lunch), 20,000-29,999 yen (dinner)
Closed: Irregular holidays
2. Sushi Matsumoto
Sushi Matsumoto is Kyoto's #1 sushi restaurant. It was opened in 2005 by an owner who previously worked at famous Tokyo restaurant "Shinbashi Shimizu," a restaurant strongly admired by current sushi chefs.
The techniques and skills the owner learned at Shinbashi Shimizu are alive and well despite his shift to Kyoto, and the distinct flavor of Edo-mae sushi from Tokyo, with rice tart from red vinegar and vinegared kohada (gizzard shad), is perfectly maintained as well.
The owner has held true to his desire to "inherit and protect the culture of Edo-mae sushi," and as a result Sushi Matsumoto has been granted a Michelin star every year since 2011.
Sushi Matsumoto offers two lunch courses: 13 pieces for 9000 yen, and 17 pieces for 12000 yen.
We highly recommend trying the more luxurious 17-piece course here.
Similar to Sushi Tadayasu, Sushi Matsumoto is located in the middle of Kyoto's sightseeing spots.
If you're a sushi fan visiting Kyoto, be sure to enjoy the Edo-mae sushi of Chef Matsumoto, whose experience is leading him close to his peak as a sushi chef and craftsman.
Address: 570-123 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 10,000-14,999 yen (lunch), 20,000-29,999 yen (dinner)
Closed: Lunch Tuesdays and Wednesdays
3. Ebisugawa Sushi Suzuka
This stylish sushi restaurant is conveniently located less than a 10-minute walk from Marutamachi Station.
The owner spent many years working at a sushi restaurant at Tsukiji, and now he is making authentic Edo-mae sushi that has caught the attention of local foodies.
The sour flavor of the sushi rice, seasoned with red vinegar, pairs beautifully with the fish that the owner purchases wholesale from Tsukiji.
The rice is cooked to an al-dente doneness, which complements the umami of the high-quality seafood used.
Despite receiving high praise from customers, Sushi Suzuka only has a scant 7 reviews on Tabelog a year after opening.
While surprising, this does make it easier to get reservations.
Dinner is served as a course meal for 8000 yen.
Sushi Suzuka is a great place to try great Edo-mae sushi at a price unthinkable for Tokyo.
★Ebisugawa Sushi Suzuka
Address: 305 Tawarayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 10,000-14,999 yen
Closed: Irregular holidays
This long-standing sushi restaurant first opened in 1899.
The current chef, who is also the third-generation owner, has been designated as a "contemporary master craftsman" by the Japanese government.
Chidoritei's sushi is not Edo-mae nigiri, but rather traditional Kyoto sushi varieties of mackerel sushi and oshizushi (made by putting sushi rice in a box, topping it with fish, and pressing).
It is especially known for the flavors of its mackerel sushi, which is said to be even better than that of Kyoto's most famous restaurant "Izuu."
They also offer a great-value set called "Wakasa (2100 yen)" for lunch that includes maki-zushi, oshizushi, chirashizushi, and mackerel bo-sushi, so you can enjoy the wide variety of sushi made by the chef.
Be sure to maximize your sushi experience by enjoying all of the types of sushi here at Chidoritei!
Address: 203 Donguridori, Yamatooji Nishiiru, Rokken-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 1,000-2,999 yen
Izuu is a well-known sushi restaurant famous across Japan that was originally founded in 1781.
It took traditional mackerel bo-sushi and improved upon it, creating and popularizing what is now known as "saba (mackerel) no sugata-zushi."
Their mackerel sushi, made with carefully-selected ma-kombu and thick slices of mackerel, bursts forth with plenty of delicious fat when you bite down, creating a luxurious taste.
The combination of the fish with the slightly sour sushi rice is outstanding, and many foodies rate Izuu "one of the places with perfect sushi in Kyoto."
You can also buy souvenir packages of their sushi, a 6-piece serving for a single person at 2430 yen, at Kyoto Station.
Be sure to try this traditional Kyoto sushi, carefully made the same as it was 200 years ago!
Address: 367 Kiyomoto-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 2,000-2,999 yen
This popular restaurant in Kyoto's luxury area Kitayama is run by an owner who previously worked at a legendary Kyoto sushi restaurant we've already introduced, "Matsuzushi."
Morikawa has earned high ratings on Tabelog that rival the likes of "Gion Sushi Tadayasu" and "Sushi Matsumoto."
As side dishes are served as the main course, there is no "sushi" in the restaurant's name, and it's typical to finish off your meal here with an order of nigiri.
Dishes are made using traditional Kyoto techniques and seasonal ingredients, and their signature "saba kombu" that is aged to draw out exceptional umami is possibly the most high-level dish of them all.
It's also worth noting that a meal at Morikawa is a great value; a similar meal in Tokyo where you eat and drink your fill would run you far more than around 10,000 yen.
If you'd like to enjoy the great variety of their dishes, we recommend visiting in a group of 4 or more.
Address: 23-2 Kamigamo Ikebata-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Hours: 12:00-14:00 / 17:00-22:00 (Reservations required during the day)
Budget: 10,000-14,999 yen
This old-fashioned sushi restaurant located near Nishiki Market has only a scant 5 seats and originally opened in 1954.
Their signature dish is their "mackerel sushi," characterized by its use of rice fluffed up with air and fresh mackerel.
While meals here may seem on the larger side with 12 pieces per person, the light and delicate flavors made here keep you reaching back for more, and before you know it you're polished off the whole meal without getting too full.
Many gourmands rate the unique mackerel sushi here as the "best in Kyoto and all of Japan."
The atmosphere of the classical shop is also excellent, with the weathered counter at the heart of the room.
If you want to visit THE Kyoto restaurant, this is our #1 recommendation to you.
Address: 592 Nishiuoya-cho, Takakuradori Nishikokoji Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Budget: 3,000-3,999 yen
Closed: Irregular holidays