Kyoto Yakitori Kazu offers fine dining on a budget.

With thousands upon thousands of restaurants to choose from in Japan’s major cities, looking for a place to dine that checks all the boxes in terms of quality, vibe, service and price can be a task that’s both time-consuming and overwhelming.

Making the job a little easier is handbooks like The Michelin Guide, which has done all the hard work in advance, and while it’s most famous for awarding restaurants with Michelin stars, in recent years, it’s their Bib Gourmand category that’s been attracting more and more attention.

This category recognises eateries offering outstanding food at affordable prices, with courses or set meals priced at around 5,000 yen (US$46) or less. And while we’ve seen a number of ramen restaurants awarded with a mention in this category, there are times when our bellies yearn for something other than a bowl of noodles, and for that there’s a yakitori restaurant in Kyoto that deserves our attention.

Called Kyoto Yakitori Kazu (with “kazu” meaning “one” in Japanese), this restaurant has only been open for a year, but it’s already received the honourable Bib Gourmand mention in the latest Michelin Guide. This is largely due to the skill and attention to detail displayed by the chef, Takashi Iikawa, who earned Bib Gourmand status at his previous restaurant in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza neighbourhood for two consecutive years.

Iikawa has developed a menu to showcase the quintessence of yakitori, aiming to elevate the everyday food to its highest peak in Kyoto. With the experienced chef at the grill, diners will be able to “feel the skill and heart of the craftsman” as each skewer is carefully cooked over charcoal in front of them, igniting the five senses with the sound and aroma of the sizzling meat throughout the meal.

The restaurant uses locally sourced Kyo-Akajidori chicken bought fresh every morning, and as the chickens are raised on a pesticide-free feed in a relaxed and stress-free environment in a mountain village in Kyoto, the meat is said to be fine-textured and flavourful. Even the salt has been carefully selected for its sweetness and richness, with sharp Japanese sea salt and two types of rock salt produced in the Andes specially blended to create the best balance between flavours.

On the menu you’ll find all the standard yakitori favourites, plus rare limited-time seasonal delicacies and unusual offerings like soriresu (chicken oysters), aka (inner thigh), togarashi (thigh muscle), and chochin (fallopian tube and ovary).

The drinks menu is also outstanding, with a selection of Japanese sake, shochu, and wines by the glass chosen to pair perfectly with yakitori.

The restaurant itself is beautifully designed, with low lighting, a minimalist vibe and a sleek wooden counter with seating for 20 diners. It’s said to feel like a calm, secret haven worlds away from the busy city surrounding it.

With courses starting at 5,649 yen (US$51.91) per person for a 14-piece meal, Yakitori Kazu is one of the best value-for-money restaurants you’ll find in Kyoto. Whether you like plain chicken skewers or more adventurous cuts, a meal here will definitely be one to remember.

If you’re really saving coin and on the hunt for a budget meal, though, you can always visit this ramen restaurant in Kyoto with no name.

Restaurant Location
Kyoto Yakitori Kazu / 京都 焼き鳥 一(かず)
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Shijo Muromachi, Kikusuibokocho 585 1F
京都府京都市中京区四条室町菊水鉾町585 1F
Open: 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Closed: Wednesdays

Source, images: PR Times
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