Review: Issen-Yoshoku (Kyoto, Japan)

238 Giommachi Kitagawa
Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto 605-0073
Kyoto Prefecture
Japan
+81 75 533 0001

Kyoto is a gorgeous city and what people say is the cultural and historical epicentre of Japan. If you like temples, old paved streets and centuries-old bridges, you will love Kyoto.

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A night walk took me through the famous (and amazingly beautiful) tea house-lined Gion district where geishas once roamed freely. These days, the sight of a geisha is quite rare – I didn’t see any during my stay in Kyoto – but it’s still worth the short commute up to Gion just for the stroll alone.

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You may also come across some strange things during your Kyoto post-dusk stroll. Like this dude dressed in a cake costume buying a drink from a street vending machine.

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Or this statue of a dog pulling a guy’s pants down from behind with his teeth. Strangely enough, this statue marked the entrance to Issen-Yoshoku, a popular eatery that specialises in Kyoto-stye okonomiyaki.

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The Kyoto-style okonomiyaki is also called issen-yoshoku. Like its traditional Osaka counterpart (the kind we all know and would get instant boners for), the Kyoto version contains egg, flour, shrimp, okonomiyaki sauce and dried bonito. On top of that, however, it also comes packed with spring onions, grilled fish paste, beef, ginger, tempura batter and konjak jelly. As a result, you’re getting a motherload of flavour in one little omelette/pizza/pancake/insert whatever other western equivalent you can think of.

Issen-yoshoku (¥680/AUD$7)
Issen-yoshoku (¥680/AUD$7)

Once you are seated in the bustling dining room, a waitress comes around and asks for upfront payment. As soon as you’ve paid, the freshly made banh xeo-looking issen-yoshoku is presented to you unceremoniously on a plastic white plate. At approximately seven Aussie dollars, it isn’t bad value.

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Given the amount of ingredients packed into the omelette, you won’t be complaining that it’s tasteless. In fact, I found that it was TOO tasty; there were so many things happening all at once that my poor tastebuds got confused. It wasn’t horrible though but I yearned for the relatively simplicity of a traditional Osaka okonomiyaki. I also found the dough of this Kyoto version to be a tad too soggy too.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the issen-yoshoku is worth trying at least once. Who knows, you might end up getting bigger boners for it yourself. As for me, I’m sticking to the classic okonomiyaki, thankyouverymuch.

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