In fact, Kyoto is the place with the highest consumption of eels in the whole country. Every year, a ranking of eel consumption in Japan is published, and Kyoto Prefecture is a regular in the top 10 every year, and in 2009, the latest data available, Kyoto Prefecture recorded the second highest eel consumption in Japan.
In such Kyoto, there is a bullish restaurant that calls itself “the best eel in Japan. Of course, whether it is really the best in Japan or not depends on personal evaluation, but there is no doubt that the restaurant has at least considerable confidence in its eel dishes…
Kyogoku Kaneyo｜”The best eel in Japan”, a restaurant specializing in eel cuisine established in the early Taisho Era (1912-1926)
Kyogoku Kaneyo was established in the early Taisho era (1912-1926) and has maintained its retro appearance for more than 100 years. With the passage of time, the restaurant has become more eye-catching to passersby due to the rows of modern buildings, and many foreign tourists visit the restaurant to visually enjoy the classic Japanese atmosphere.
Kaneyao is a famous eel restaurant popular among foreign tourists… If you visit without a reservation, be prepared to wait in line and wait before the restaurant opens.
Usually there is a line before the restaurant opens, and you have to be prepared to wait about 30 minutes for a table. Fortunately, there was almost no crowd at opening time on this drizzly day, and we were easily shown to our seats (although they were filled with customers shortly thereafter).
The photogenic “Kinshi-don” that became famous on TV programs and ranking websites… If you want to be instagrammable, don’t hesitate to order (nama)!
Now, let’s get started with Kyogoku Kanayo’s signature dish, the Kinshi-don. Actually, kinshi-don is not an original dish of Kyogoku Kaneyoshi, but was originally served at Osakayama Kaneyo in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. If I have a chance in the future, I would like to make a trip to Otsu to try the original Kinshi-don.
Aside from that, there are three grades of Kinshi-don: special, top, and medium. I ordered the special top Kinshi-don (3,600 yen including tax) without hesitation. According to the menu, there is a bit of a wait time only for the extra high grade. I wonder if it takes time to grill a large number of eels…the wait makes it even more appetizing.
Nevertheless, it came out easily in about 10 minutes after ordering. Was it because the restaurant had not yet opened and there were not many customers? Whatever the reason, I felt a little disappointed. I guess it takes longer when it is crowded, I guess…
This is the Kinshi-don (special), but it does not have the photogenic “omelet overflow” that has been featured on numerous TV programs and blogs. This is also a bit disappointing. It is because the bowl has become bigger with the special kinshi-don, so the dashimaki tamago fits into the bowl. Therefore, if you are ordering a kinshi-don for your Instagram image, I recommend that you order the “Normal” version without hesitation.
Now, when I opened the lid of the bowl… inside was a large omelet that perfectly covered the surface of the bowl, lying there like a comforter…
And when I turn over the omelet, I find a freshly baked broiled eel…
Kyogoku Kaneyo’s kabayaki is a Kanto style broiling method in which the eel is spread open on its back, broiled in white, and steamed before dipping it in sauce and broiling. Steaming the eel before grilling removes excess fat, resulting in a refreshing flavor. Also, since the time directly exposed to the fire is shortened, the fish remains fluffy and tender, resulting in an elegant grilled taste.
The traditional sauce used for the eel is also surprisingly light, unlike the usual sweet and thick sauce. The sauce is light and light, with only the minimum amount of sauce used, which enhances the taste of the egg omelet and the eel. If you find the sauce a little too much, there is additional sauce and sansho (Japanese pepper) on the table for you to use as you like.
Please note that Kyogoku Kanayo’s Kinshi-don does not come with soup, which must be ordered separately if desired. If you want it, you have to order it separately.
Speaking of eel bowls, this is what comes with them… The chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), which is never sold out, tastes like an elegant egg soup.
Next, let me introduce the chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), which is “a must have with unagi donburi (eel bowl) (from the menu at Kyogoku Kaneyo)”. This is also quite expensive at 600 yen per serving, but what in the world does it taste like? Expectations are high…
It looks like a very ordinary chawanmushi. The surface of the steamed egg custard is shaking in small increments, and a sprout of a tree in the center adds a visual accent to the dish.
Very smooth chawanmushi. It quickly melts in your mouth and the flavor of the fine broth spreads throughout your mouth. The expression “Japanese egg and egg soup” may be close to this. The standard ingredients such as chicken, fish paste, shiitake mushrooms, and lilies are crammed into this soup, but there are also other…
What a surprise, here is another eel fillet! And as you can see, it is quite large. This caught me by surprise. The collaboration of the fat from the eel and the broth from the chawanmushi amplifies the delicious flavor of the eel, yet it has an elegant taste that does not linger. The price of 600 yen for one steamed egg custard is also understandable.
A full take-out menu is also available! Kyogoku Kaneyo’s signature dishes to enjoy at home or at work
At Kyogoku Kaneyo, you can also take out various signature dishes. Although it is a bit more expensive than the eat-in menu, you are guaranteed to be delighted if you buy a special eel bowl as a souvenir. The main menu and prices are as follows.
- Unagi kabayaki (special): 3,510 yen
- Unagi kabayaki (top): 2,910 yen
- Eel on top of bowl of rice topped with eel (extra): 3,710 yen
- Eel on top of bowl of rice (top): 3,110 yen
- Eel on top of bowl of rice topped with eel (medium): 2,600 yen
- Kinshi-don (special) 3710 yen
- Kinshi-don (top) 3110 yen
- Kinshi-don (ordinary): 2,600 yen
- Eel stick sushi: 1,500 yen, 3,110 yen
Who else wants to try the best eel in Japan? To get to Kyogoku Kanayo, walk 5 minutes from the nearest station, Sanjo Station on the Keihan Electric Railway Line.
Now, let me introduce the restaurant.
Japan’s Best Eel, Kyogoku Kaneyo.
Address: 456 Matsugae-cho, Rokkaku-dori, Shinkyogoku Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Phone number: 075-221-0669 (reservations and other inquiries are accepted by phone only)
Business hours: 11:30-20:30 LO (Lunch time until 14:00 on weekends and holidays)
Closed: Basically open every day
Parking: No parking
Credit card payment: Accepted
From JR Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus No. 205, and it is about a 2-minute walk from the Kawaramachi Sanjo stop. It will also be pleasant to head there while strolling around Shinkyogoku and Teramachi from the direction of Shijo.
P.S. If you are looking for delicious eel in Kyoto, please stop by this article…
P.P.S. A new restaurant has opened in Osaka that serves the inevitable Instagram-worthy eel ball bowl…