On our next day in Kyoto we started the day with sightseeing at Kinkakuji and Niji-jo.
After sightseeing, we headed downtown for a late lunch. We were on a mission to find Kaneyo, a historic grilled eel restaurant which I had been looking forward to after reading about it on Kyoto Foodie. The area it’s in is full of fashionable shops, so we actually walked right by on the cross-street and didn’t even notice how close we were. We felt like we were starving by the time we finally found our way back to the right street.
Luckily for us, it was July 18th, the day before Doyo-ushi-no-hi, the traditional summer day to eat eel to give you stamina to endure the summer heat. If it had been the next day, surely the shop would have been packed. Learn more about Doyo-ushi-no-hi at Taste of Culture.
Their specialty is unagi donburi; you can get a regular, large, or special large bowl (or at lunch, a mini). The eel is grilled over charcoal, and according to their website, they have been using the same sauce base for over 100 years, adding to it, but never throwing it away. Alex got the large unagi-don. I got the regular kinshi-don, which came topped with a fluffy pillow of tamago omelet. The donburi came with pickles, and you can also order chawan mushi (steamed egg-custard) on the side. The donburi were pretty big, so we passed on the chawan mushi.
Both bowls were fantastic. Alex deemed it the best eel he’s ever had, and I think I agree. The eel was rich and charred just the right amount on the edges leaving little crisp, caramelized bits. I really liked the fluffy texture and delicate flavor of the tamago too, though the eel in the unagi-don (no topping) were crisper, as the piping-hot fillets steam a little bit under the egg.
I suppose at 1600 yen for the regular and 2300 for the large bowl, it might seem expensive at first, but trust me, it’s worth it. It was a very satisfying lunch, and left us ready for more sightseeing all afternoon, which was a good thing, because it was a long wait until dinner…
Want to see what else we did that day? Take a look at Alex’s photoblog.