Feb 25 2014

Kushikura

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By our sixth day in Japan we had already tried most of the different styles of cooking, but we had not yet been to one of the traditional Yakitori places where they grill skewers of delicious meat and vegetables in front of you. My guide book did not give me any good recommendations so I asked the hotel concierge to recommend us something and she recommended Kushikura. Kushikura is located in the centre of Kyoto and does the simple cooking method, "Sumibiyaki" (cooked over a charcoal flame). A lot of the meat is marinated in Kushikura's specialty sauce and garlic.
 
It was easy finding the place with a taxi as he had the Japanese name and dropped us of in front of a traditional restaurant style building, but there were no signs in English outside, so not sure we could have found this place on our own. Inside you can either sit by the counter and watch the chefs grill delicious things over charcoal or sit in small rooms. We were initially seated in one of these rooms but we insisted on sitting at the counter as it was much more interesting and although they initially said they had no space, later they did find space for us at the counter. It was amazing watching the three (at the time) chefs cook skewers and how they added water, spices, pepper to different meats and vegetables and it was a great show to accompany the dinner and you did not smell the smoke as they had this amazing glass screen wall that sucked all the smoke inside.
 
You could either order skewers from a wide selection of chicken, pork, beef and vegetables, or order one of the set menus. We ordered a set menu and then added some separate skewers. The menu featured four different set menus ranging from YEN 1600 to YEN 4800 and as you paid more you would get a bigger set menu. We chose the second smallest menu at YEN 2800 called Miyako course which had an appetizer, chicken dish, seasonal dish, rice, pickles, miso soup and 6 skewers, and this with the added skewers we ordered was plenty of food for us. Besides normal (European) skewers you could also get skewers of gizzards, tails, skins, napes, livers, gristle, hearts if you wanted something more exotic.
 
First arrived our appetizer which was tofu mixed with some Japanese vegetables, a sort of typical traditional food starter, which I did not enjoy that much but I don’t really enjoy these sort of traditional things too much. Next came the “chicken dish” which turned out to be chicken drumsticks and they were extremely good! So so good I was picking at the bone for a long time. It had a sort of lemon flavour and something else, which I could not work out and it was seriously good. After this chicken dish our first skewer arrived, “chicken breast with plum labiate”. I usually don’t like these sort of fruit sauces mixed with meat, but it was very good, tasted like plum, sort of, and went very well together. After this our miso soup, rice and pickles arrived, and the miso soup here was not the best, but you don’t come here for miso soup.
 
We had also ordered a skewer of Japanese beef (the most expensive skewer at YEN 880) and another one of Premium pork rib. These were so good, well seasoned and grilled, just absolutely delicious that at the end of our meal we ordered another portion, one of each of these. The other meat skewers that we got as part of our set menu were “chicken & leeks” and chicken “meatball”. Both different but equally good covered in their special sauce.
 
After the meat skewers we got a skewer of quails eggs (the menu stated you could chose from hearts, livers or quails eggs, no one asked us and just brought us the quails eggs, which is the thing I would have chosen anyways, and I guess most foreigners do, hence they don’t ask you). The quails eggs were surprisingly good, I did not expect to like them at all, but I did. They looked like olives but tasted like eggs. The vegetarian dish that was part of our set menu was “small sweet green peppers” which were covered in their delicious sauce and fish flakes. The peppers would have been good on their own but with the fish flakes and sauce were superb. Another vegetable dish that I ordered extra (not part of the set menu) as I was craving it so much was “lotus root” which was served with extremely spicy mustard. I like lotu root so I liked it.
 
To end our meal the waitress brought us the two last remaining items from our set menu, a skewer of Kyoto style wheat gluten which was covered in chocolate and sweet, and their seasonal dish which had vegetables in a sort of thick broth. The soup-y type of dish I did not like too much but the sweet skewers with chocolate were great.
 
I had one of my best meals in Japan in Kushikura. The food was delicious, it was great value for money considering we had a big meal and sake, and there was a great show, you could watch the chefs cook yakitori skewers. A memorable meal for me. Don’t expect too much, this is not fine dining, just very good and enjoyable yakitori.
 
Date: 25/ 02/ 14
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Price for 2 people, with 2 bottles of sake and no service charge: YEN 9600 (around £57)

Maija rated: 

4.00

Location: 

Kushikura
584 Hiiragicho Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto
Japan
JP
Kushikura Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4