Monday, August 10, 2009

Restaurant # 5: Izu

After spending two days exploring Osaka and Nara, we headed to Kyoto for the next four days of our trip. The first lunch that we had was at Izu, one of the oldest makers of Kyo-Zushi (Kyoto style sushi) around.
Their web address is:
Since Kyoto is landlocked, this traditional style of sushi does not involve fresh fish, but rather involves a variety of toppings ranging from pickled Saba (Mackrel) to Tamago (Egg omlette).
We went to Izu for a quick lunch and sampled what few varieties that were on offer.

Unfortunately the only image that I could find on my camera was a partial outside view of Izu.
Hopefully I will find some images of the interior on my sister's camera and upload them later.
The inside was what i can best describe as rustic, with wooden benches desigend for a quick meal, and most customers that we saw opted for takeout. It was extrmely neat and genuine looking, and i have no doubt that it has looked exactly the same way for over a century.

The meal itself was very simple, consisted of a cup of green tea and the above plate.
The sushi varieties were: on the bottom of the plate left hand side, Saba Zushi (Pickled Mackrel), next came the big roll that had in it pickled radish, tamago (egg omlette) and very sweet pickled mushrooms.
The Saba Zushi was far too fishy tasting for my taste, i did not enjoy the Saba at all, although my brother Walid did take to its liking. The other large roll was very sweet in flavor (owing to the sweetened mushroom and tamago) and was indeed very large. This large sushi was actually very good, but tasted more like a dessert than a sushi roll. I would best describe it as a rice cake.
On the top of the plate there were five varieties of box pressed, cube shaped sushi which consisted of the following:
Ebi (shrimp), Tamago (Egg Omlette), Hamo (Pike conger basted with a sweet sauce), Torigai (A variety of cockle), and finally Tai with Kinome (Sea bream with shansho leaf).
These small sushi were mostly rice with a very thin layer of topping for flavor mostly. They were all mild tasting, rice being the first and foremost ingredient, and it contributed most to the taste of the sushi. I did especially like the Hamo, although I thought it distinctively tasted like roast beef!

Walid, absolutely loved the big rolls, so we opted for another order. The initial order by itself was filling but we are big eaters.

As you can see, we could barely fit the roll in our mouths. :)
I guess as a traveller exploring Japan and sampling the local cuisine, trying out traditional places like this is a must. However, if you are only looking to eat the best tasting dishes available rather than sampling the local specialties, you could find many tastier alternatives in Kyoto.

I can not say how this restaurant compares to others serving the same fare since this is the only Kyoto style sushi place that I have ever visited, however i remember it being quite expensive at 13,000 JPY (141 USD) for the four of us, considering that our meal consisted of little more than flavored rice.


  1. You know, I considered Izu when I had to pick one Kyoto style sushi place. But at the end we settled for Idzuju, which supposedly inherited the recipes of Izu about a hundred years ago.

    The mackerel sushi we had was simply unbelievable! Or perhaps that's just my palate ...


  2. I learned about Izu from your blog, it was very influential in helping us organize our trip :)
    As for the Saba Zushi, it was the only item of food that i did not enjoy on my Japan trip. I guess strong tasting, oily fish aren't for me!
    Thank you very much for translating the name of the Fugu restaurant, and it truly means a lot to me that you are regularly checking this blog for updates!

  3. Don't mention it. Your reviews are quite honest and informative and I'm not gonna miss them!