After a long day of touring Kyoto’s temples and shrines, I decided that it was time to have lunch. I guess I was too excited hopping on and off both the Raku and the city bus that I lost track of time – it was nearly 4pm when I stumbled across this vibrant-looking traditional Japanese restaurant at the corner of Gion. Little did I know that the place was actually serving the legendary Issen Yoshoku that I’ve heard about for quite some time.
Strategically located next to the intersection of Kawabata and Shijo Street, Issen Yoshoku doesn't have an English sign in front of the store. But you will easily spot this place, thanks to their big red Japanese lanterns and old posters, a funny figure of a boy being chased by a dog, as well as mini flags of countries around the world. If those are still not enough, most of the time there are customers lining up to watch the talented chef cooking the dish at their open-kitchen, right next to the entrance. There is also a small signboard bearing information about the dish, the ingredients, and not to forget: a pre-warning that you may want to eat some more afterwards. And believe me, the sign doesn't lie.
So, what is Issen Yoshoku, anyway? It is similar to the famous Japanese dish, okonomiyaki. It is made from spring onion, beef, egg, ginger, dried shrimp, tempura batter, grilled fish paste, konjak jelly, dried bonito and, of course, flour. The best part is that each dish is prepared after ordering, so rest assured that you'd get your meal fresh from the kitchen.
You can eat Issen Yoshoku while it's still piping hot or even after you leave it to cool-off at room temperature. As for me, I couldn't wait any longer, so I quickly dove into my meal and shamelessly finished one in less than 10 minutes! Rich in flavor, it was both tasty and fulfilling. And yes, addictive! I guess that's why most of its patrons often order some more to go, even after finishing one.
The store proudly offers Issen Yoshoku as its one and only dish in the menu, for a price of ¥680. But trust me, it only takes one menu to keep you yearning for more!