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The NewsWalker site has a round-up of seven places to drink great sake accompanied by delicious fish and side dishes in Kyoto. The information is taken from the 14 September 2018 edition of Kyoto Walker.

[Why yes, I’ll be in Kyoto in a few months. I translate this stuff for me too, you know.]

1: Sake Hall Masuya

This sister outlet of a popular sake bar near Kawaramachi is housed in a converted old traditional house, with a large floor space and relaxed atmosphere. It prides itself on its wide-ranging sake list, assembled through repeated tastings by owner Masuda. The staff know everything about sake and love to talk about it too.

The two top side dishes are the umami-filled lightly pickled shimesaba (salted and vinegared mackerel, JPY 540) and osakana-namerō (mackerel or similar fish pounded together with miso, herbs and spices, JPY 486).

The unique atmosphere is enhanced by images of breweries projected onto the wall of the illuminated courtyard garden.

  • Masuya Saketen site (Japanese, covers Sake Hall Masuya and the Masuya Saketen branch near Kawaramachi)
  • Address: 298-2 Ichirenshachō, Nakagyō Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8146 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening times: Weekdays 5:30 – 11:30 pm, weekends 3:00 – 11:30 pm

2: Kyoto Sakagurakan

From Kyotango in the north to Jōyō in the south, you can taste sake from every brewery in Kyoto Prefecture here. The menu includes tasting sets featuring sake from 15 different breweries, as well as side dishes to go with all of them. They also have special sake such as Ikeda Shuzō’s kasaichō nikomaru junmai (JPY 700). There are two tasting sets, one featuring 15 breweries from the north of the prefecture and the city of Kyoto, and the other breweries from Fushimi and further south.

Side dishes include freshly caught fish from Ise and tempura with fu (wheat gluten) from a famous Kyoto maker. The atmosphere is laid back, so you can relax and enjoy your sake.

  • Kyoto Sakagurakan site (Japanese)
  • Address: Tora Building 1F, 236 Kugikakushichō, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 600-8423 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening times: Tue – Sun 12:00 noon to 11:00 pm. Last food order 10:00 pm. Closed Mondays.

3: Ozabu

Famous for its wide-ranging selection of sake and Kyoto-style obanzai side dishes, plus all-you-can-eat/drink plans. The all-you-can-drink plan includes popular label Dassai as well as draft beer, highballs, cocktails and soft drinks.

You pour your own from the bar’s cellar, half of which is local sake. And the counter is stocked with 10 varieties of side dishes that change daily. All-you-can-drink plans cost JPY 1,620 for 60 minutes, JPY 2,160 for 90 minutes, or JPY 2,700 for 120 minutes. All-you-can-eat plans cost JPY 1,404 for 60 minutes, JPY 1,566 for 90 minutes or JPY 1,728 for 120 minutes. Supplement of JPY 432 for all-you-can-drink only.

  • Ozabu site (Japanese)
  • Address: Basement level 1, Forum Sanjō Building, 110 Nakajimachō, Nakagyō, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8205 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening times: Mon – Fri and day before holidays 5:00 pm – midnight, Sat – Sun and holidays 4:00 pm – midnight. Table charge JPY 400.

4: Sushi Sakaba Hirashima

This restaurant is actually run by Ryōriya Otaya, which earned a Bib Gourmand in the 2016 Michelin Guide. Sushi comes from fish bought that day at the market, and shares the menu with carefully created Japanese dishes. The location on the banks of the river Takase is also a draw. The menu is full of seasonal specials that pair beautifully with sake.

  • Sushi Sakaba Hirashima site (Japanese)
  • Address: 260-1 Bukkōji-no-machi, Ichinochō, Shimogyō, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 600-8018 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening hours: Lunch Sat – Sun and holidays 12:00 – 2:00 pm (last order 1:30 pm), lunch on weekdays by reservation only. Evenings 5:00 – 10:30 pm (last order 10:00 pm). Closed Wednesdays.

5: Muramachi Nijo Minoya

This shop boasts its own soba made from buckwheat grown just for them and water from Nagano Prefecture. They also use other ingredients from Nagano to create French and Italian style dishes. Even the wood for the counter comes from Nagano cypress.

  • Muramachi Nijo Minoya Facebook page (Japanese)
  • Address: Muramachi Nijo kudaru, 270 Takoyakushichō, Nakagyō, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-0021 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening hours: Mon – Fri 6:00 pm – midnight, Sat 12:00 – 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm – midnight. Closed Sunday.

6: Kyomachiya Obanzai Kohaku

Dishes here focus on seasonal and unusual vegetables particular to the Kyoto area, as beautifully presented as they are healthy. The sake list features over 20 local brews selected by the owner, a sake somellier. They’re served in smaller sizes too, making it a popular spot for women dining alone. There are also meat dishes to pair with sake, and the house special of dishes made with grilled home-made miso.

7: Shun Dining Suiba

A spin-off of a popular stand-up bar with four locations in Kyoto city centre, this seated restaurant offers a huge menu of 70-80 items based on traditional Japanese recipes and made from selected seasonal shellfish and fresh vegetables from the market. There’s also karaage (deep-fried) chicken gizzard, breast, wing tips and thighs with spicy yuzu-koshō, and creative main and side dishes with seasonal vegetables.

  • Shun Dining Suiba site (Japanese)
  • Address: Shijo agaru, 556-23 Shinkyōgoku-dōri, Nakanocho, Nakagyō, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8042 (Google Maps link)
  • Opening hours: 5:00 – 11:00 pm, closed every Monday and the first Tuesday of every month.