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14 Must-Try Sushi Restaurants in Kyoto during Your Trip to Japan

14 Must-Try Sushi Restaurants in Kyoto during Your Trip to Japan

Apr 10, 2024 Kyoto

Wouldn’t you love to indulge in exquisite sushi while traveling in Japan? Just like Tokyo and Osaka, Kyoto boasts many attractive sushi restaurants, including luxurious ones awarded with prestigious Michelin stars. In this article, we will guide you through sushi restaurants in Kyoto across three price ranges: high-end (around 20,000 JPY), mid-scale (around 10,000 JPY), and budget-friendly (under 5,000 JPY).

Michelin Official Partner

 1. Sushi culture in Kyoto


What cities come to mind when figuring out where to enjoy sushi in Japan? Could it be Kyoto? Is Kyoto known for sushi? Kyoto, an ancient capital of Japan, boasts a traditional and artistic culture of its own, distinct from that of Tokyo. Geographically landlocked, the city of Kyoto has fostered a unique and creative sushi culture suited for preservation. Some of the notable examples of “Kyo-zushi (Kyoto-style sushi)” include “mame-zushi,” which is smaller than regular sushi, and “saba-zushi,” made with salted mackerel marinated in vinegar for long-term preservation.

Many sushi restaurants across Japan serve “Edomae-zushi” which originated in Tokyo. Sushi restaurants in Kyoto are no exception, with numerous famous establishments offering this style of sushi. Although some Kyoto sushi restaurants specialize in traditional Tokyo-style sushi, many offer Kyoto-style sushi as well as traditional Japanese dishes.


 2. 8 luxurious, high-end sushi restaurants in Kyoto



We will guide you through luxurious sushi restaurants that can be enjoyed with a budget of around 20,000 JPY. These establishments include prestigious Michelin-starred venues, those crowned in the Top 100 Restaurants on Tabelog (Japan’s biggest restaurant review website), and similarly luxurious ones known for their popularity and excellent reputation.

To embark on a unique culinary journey at these lavish sushi restaurants, advance reservations are usually required, so please be sure to check the availability when making an itinerary for your trip.


(1) Sushi Rakumi(鮨 楽味)

Sushi Rakumi, which opened in 2019, offers Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi, following in the footsteps of the renowned Japanese restaurant, “Gion Sasaki,” a 2003 Michelin Kyoto three-starred restaurant known to be one of the hardest restaurants to get a reservation at in Kyoto. Sushi Rakumi has received one Michelin star for four consecutive years since 2020. Top chef Kazuya Nomura began his training at Gion Sasaki and was later appointed to work at “Sushi Yoshitake” in Ginza, Tokyo, which held three Michelin stars for 12 consecutive years until 2023. Sushi Rakumi offers a harmonious blend of Kyoto's traditional dishes crafted with the highest expertise in Edomae sushi.

From the restaurant, you can take in a splendid view of nature which changes gracefully through Japan’s four seasons. In spring, you can enjoy the illuminated sakura (cherry blossoms) at night.


 

Sushi Rakumi Information

  • Operation hours:17:00 - 22:00
  • Regular holiday:Sundays, Irregular Holidays
  • Average price:Dinner: JPY 29,700 - JPY 38,500
  • Address:332-6, Miyoshi-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
  • Access:
  • 5 minutes walk from Sanjo Station
  • 6 minutes walk from Sanjo Keihan Station
  • 8-minutes walk from Gion-Shijo Station
  • Payment methods:Cash, Credit card
  • Seats:8 Seats
  • Batch:One Star Michelin Guide, 2023,2022,2021

Make a reservation at Sushi Rakumi


(2) Sushi Hayashi(鮓 はやし)


Awarded one Michelin star for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, “Sushi Hayashi” is a hideaway sushi restaurant in the quiet heart of Kyoto, just north of Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace), where Japanese emperors once resided. The owner, Hayashi, established his career at hotels in Switzerland and at “Sushi Wakon,” a one-star Michelin restaurant (from 2018 to 2021) located within the first-class “Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto.”

Fueled by a strong desire to serve fresh, locally sourced fish, Sushi Hayashi searches out ingredients from nearby regions in the Kansai area such as Mie, Wakayama, and Awaji Island. The restaurant offers omakase courses featuring not only Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi but also Kyoto-style sushi such as mackerel sushi and steamed sushi. Additionally, the venue boasts a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, including rare Swiss wine, seldom imported to Japan. The owner-chef selects the perfect drink that pairs well with the dishes and nigiri sushi (sushi topped with fish or other ingredients).


 

Sushi Hayashi's Information

  • Operation hours: Lunch: 12:00 - 14:00 Dinner: 18:00 - 21:00
  • Regular holiday: Wednesdays, Thursdays
  • Average price:Lunch: JPY 24,200 - JPY 37,510/Dinner: JPY 37,510
  • Address: Grancosmo Gosho 101, 31-1, Omotecho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
  • Access: 6 minutes walk from Demachiyanagi Station
  • Payment methods: Cash, Credit card
  • Seats: 8 Seats

Make a reservation at Sushi Hayashi


(3) Kyoto Saeki (京都 さえ㐂)

Sushi Saeki specializes in Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi and is located in Ginza, Tokyo: a highly competitive area for sushi restaurants. The Tokyo venue has been listed in Tabelog Tokyo's Top 100 Sushi Restaurants for two consecutive years since 2021. With a reputation as the number one Edomae sushi chef in Kansai at his former restaurant in Osaka, Hiroshi Saeki ensures that the Kyoto branch of Sushi Saeki offers authentic sushi crafted with skills he has mastered and passed down.

Mixed with homemade red vinegar, the perfectly balanced, mild acidity of the shari (sushi rice) enhances the taste of fish. The hospitality of the top chef, Taniguchi, is also highly praised; he personally shows the fish to customers before filleting them. Boasting exceptional pairings of sake and appetizers, this luxurious restaurant provides an unforgettable dining experience, complemented by a stunning view of a Kyoto garden.


Sushi Saeki's Information

  • Operation hours: 18:30 - , 20:30-
  • Regular holiday: Irregular Holidays
  • Average price:Lunch: JPY 36,300 - JPY 41,300 Dinner: JPY 36,300 - JPY 41,300
  • Address: 663 Izumi-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
  • Access:
  • 5 minutes walk from Marutamachi Station
  • 8 minutes walk from Nijojo StationPayment methods: Credit card available
  • Seats: 16 Seats

Make a reservation at Sushi Saeki

(4) Gion Sushi Tadayasu(祇園 鮨 忠保)


“Sushi Tadayasu,” offering Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi in Gion, Kyoto, is an outstanding sushi restaurant driven by the owner’s passion for sushi. They meticulously select ingredients from a market in Tokyo. The ingredients are then left to sit, allowing them to mature and enhance their savory flavors. Depending on the topping, they utilize two types of vinegar rice, each carefully portioned and formed to suit the topping. Additionally, even the temperature of the toppings is adjusted accordingly to bring out the best taste. Sushi Tadayasu offers a unique opportunity to savor the finest food created by the expertise and skill of its chefs.

In the sophisticated and elegant atmosphere, where the essence of Japanese culture envelopes you, indulge in authentic Edomae sushi in Gion, Kyoto. Delight yourself in not only the traditional Edomae sushi but also nigiri sushi (sushi topped with fish or other ingredients) with innovative toppings such as broad velvet shrimp and caviar.


Gion Sushi Tadayasu's Information

  • Operation hours: Lunch: 12:00 - 14:00 Dinner:18:00 - 21:00 *Last entry at 13:00 for lunch and 20:00 for dinner
  • Regular holiday: Irregular holidays
  • Average price: Dinner: JPY 30,000 - JPY 39,999 Lunch: JPY 10,000 - JPY 14,999
  • Address: 572-9 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
  • Access:
  • 5 minutes walk from Keihan Electric Railway "Gion Shijo Station
  • 240 meters from Gion Shijo Station
  • Payment methods: Credit cards accepted (VISA, MasterCard, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club), Electronic Money not accepted
  • Seats: 12 Seats
  • Batch: Tabelog Sushi WEST Top 100 Selected Restaurants in 2022,2023

(5) Sushi Kawano (鮨 かわの)


At Sushi Kawano, you are invited to immerse yourself in Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi in an environment akin to a serene hideaway nestled in a residential area. While many high-class sushi restaurants exclusively offer omakase courses, where the chef curates each dish and topping, Sushi Kawano allows you to individually order the sushi of your choice.

Their exquisite sushi is crafted with toppings flawlessly prepared and preserved at perfect temperature. Additionally, a wide variety of à la carte options such as “Suppon nabe (softshell turtle hot pot)” are also available.


Sushi Kawano's Information

  • Operation hours:Tuesday: 17:30 - 21:00 Wednesday - Sunday: 12:00 - 14:00 17:30 - 21:00
  • Regular holiday: Monday
  • Average price:Dinner: JPY 15,000 - JPY 19,999 Lunch JPY 6,000 - JPY 7,999
  • Address:72-8 Shimogamo Higashihanagicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
  • Access: About a 10-minute walk from Kitaoji Station
  • Payment methods: Credit cards accepted: VISA/MasterCard/JCB/AMEX
  • Electronic money is not accepted.
  • QR code payment available: PayPay
  • Seats:9 Seats
  • Web Site:https://guide.michelin.com/jp/en/kyoto-region/kyoto/restaurant/sushi-kawano


(6) Sushi Matsumoto(鮨 まつもと)


Sushi Matsumoto has earned one Michelin star three times and has establishments in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Fukuoka. The Kyoto branch also offers an immersive experience in traditional Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi. They only offer omakase courses, where the chef curates the dishes to ensure a delightful combination of appetizers with playful touches and traditional Edomae sushi.

The carefully-designed omakase course begins with freshwater clam soup, followed by appetizers with playful touches such as deep-fried nebuto (a type of cardinal fish), chawanmushi (smooth steamed egg custard with soup stock in a cup) topped with pickled plum, and two types of sea urchin. In the latter half of the course, traditional Edomae sushi is served, rounding out the elegant course.


(7) Sushi Gion Matsudaya(寿し 祇園 松田屋)


Sushi Gion Matsudaya, which has been awarded one Michelin star for five consecutive years, exclusively offers Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi courses with advanced reservations. The owner and head chef, Kazunori Matsuda, was born into a family that owned a sushi restaurant that had been in business for over 40 years. He received training for Edomae sushi in Tokyo and later opened a sushi restaurant in Kyoto, specializing in traditional Edomae sushi.

His elaborative cooking style, incorporating techniques such as “searing,” “steaming,” and “grilling” for toppings, creates the perfect harmony between the toppings and shari (rice mixed with red vinegar). Drawing from his experience living in New York, his hospitality towards people from overseas is also highly praised.


 (8) Sushi Wakon(鮨 和魂)


“Sushi Wakon,” which has been awarded one Michelin star for four consecutive years (2018 to 2021), is situated in the luxurious five-star hotel, “Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto.” Here, patrons can indulge in prestigious Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi in an enchanting setting where the gorgeous hotel atmosphere seamlessly blends with traditional Japanese beauty and elegance.

Each sushi is meticulously prepared with strictly selected ingredients sourced from all over Japan, including the Toyosu market in Tokyo, to deliver the highest quality sushi to its patrons. As a renowned restaurant located within a first-class hotel, their warm hospitality is second to none, allowing overseas visitors to enjoy their sushi comfortably.


 3. 3 fantastic mid-scale sushi restaurants in Kyoto


We will guide you through mid-scale sushi restaurants that can all be enjoyed with a budget of 5,000 JPY to 10,000 JPY.


 (1) Kaitenzushi Ginza Onodera Kyoto(廻転鮨 銀座おのでら京都店 四条河原町)


With its headquarters located in the heart of Ginza, Tokyo, “Ginza Onodera” operates globally, with 13 branch sushi restaurants across three countries. In the hopes of offering the same quality sushi experience to a wider audience, they opened a Kyoto sushi conveyor belt restaurant, providing a more cost-effective option for diners.

First-class ingredients sourced from the Toyosu market in Tokyo are attentively prepared in the restaurant's kitchen under the supervision of Executive Chef Akifumi Sakagami. Diners have the opportunity to enjoy carefully crafted Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi, prepared with the chef’s dedication and time. Despite the use of the sushi conveyor system, the restaurant boasts a luxurious atmosphere, allowing its customers to witness the vibrant movements of chefs precisely creating each sushi right in front of their eyes.

One of the group’s restaurants specializing in firewood-grilled dishes, “Makiyaki Ginza Onodera” has been awarded one Michelin star for four consecutive years since 2021.


(2) Pontocho Sushi Ishiya(先斗町 鮨 いし屋)


What sets Pontocho Sushi Ishiya apart from other sushi restaurants is its unique offering of meat dishes, with a focus on wagyu (Japanese beef), alongside Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi. The venue exclusively features counter seating and allows the diners to enjoy their meal in a private setting at the counter, a rarity in Kyoto.

They offer two types of omakase courses: one priced at 9,900 JPY and another at 16,500 JPY. Additionally, there is an option to order individual sushi of your choice. Furthermore, a wide variety of à la carte options, featuring meat, fish, and vegetables, are also available


 (3) Sushi Ovino(鮨 おび乃)


Sushi Ovino, which opened in October 2020, offers authentic sushi at an affordable price. Despite being a traditional sushi restaurant with counter seating, this establishment allows you to visit at a time that suits you and opt for individual sushi alongside omakase courses.

While maintaining a luxurious and moderately high-class atmosphere, the concept of the restaurant is to make diners, who are experiencing sushi at the counter seating for the first time, feel comfortable and at home. Additionally, they provide services in English, making this venue highly recommendable for visitors from overseas.

 4. 3 budget-friendly sushi restaurants in Kyoto


We will guide you through budget-friendly sushi restaurants that you can enjoy within a budget of 1,000 JPY to 5,000 JPY. These restaurants’ casual atmosphere allows for same-day reservation or walk-in service, providing you with great options for enjoying sushi conveniently during your trip.


(1) Sushi no Musashi Sanjo Honten(寿しのむさし 三条本店)


This Kyoto sushi conveyor belt restaurant boasts over 40 years of history in Kyoto, operating four branches including this main one at Sanjo. Diners can select their favorite sushi from a variety of over 50 toppings and watch as a chef crafts their sushi right in front of their eyes. They are very meticulous about selecting rice, blending vinegar, and ensuring the freshness of the ingredients, all of which contribute to the high quality of their sushi. Despite the casualness of sushi being served via a conveyor belt system, Sushi no Musashi Sanjo Honten is well-known for its quality and cost-effectiveness.


(2) Izuju(いづ重)


Rather than Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi, Izuju features only “Kyo-zushi,” the authentic and traditional sushi of Kyoto. Their menu offers a variety of options unique to Kyoto, such as saba-zushi (pickled mackerel on sushi rice), johako-zushi (sushi pressed in a wooden box), maki-zushi (sushi rolls), guji-sugata zushi (rolled red tilefish sushi), and Hamo chirashi (sushi rice mixed with seasonal ingredients).

Izuju is highly recommended for those seeking to indulge in traditional Kyoto-style sushi, exclusive to Kyoto and offered at an affordable price, rather than the traditional, familiar Edomae sushi.


(3) Kikyo sushi(桔梗寿司)


Kikyo Sushi, a family-operated restaurant with over 60 years of history, offers a diverse selection of nigiri sushi set menus, individual sushi, and other side dishes like grilled fish. It is highly recommended for those craving a reasonably-priced traditional sushi experience, as opposed to sushi served via a conveyor belt. In addition, an English menu is available.



About the author

Koyanagi
Koyanagi

Tokyo-based foodie.