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Kyoto

Kuishinbo Yamanaka

くいしんぼー山中

Kuishinbo Yamanaka is no ordinary steakhouse – it’s the destination of a pilgrimage for connoisseurs from near and far in search of steak beyond compare. Each dish exhibits the master’s extreme fastidiousness and the fruits of his decades-long pursuit of truly delicious pureblood Tajima Omi Beef. Filled with nostalgia for days gone by, you will be treated to a big dose of heart-warming belly-filling goodness.

LOCATION & EXTERIOR & INTERIOR
At thirty minutes by taxi from Kyoto station and a fifteen-minute walk from the nearest train station (Katsura Station on the Hankyu Kyoto and Arashiyama Lines), Kuishinbo Yamanaka is not in the least conveniently located. But that doesn’t stop newcomers and regulars alike who flock for the famous steak. Kuishinbo Yamanaka has been serving purely delicious wagyu since 1976, and hardly a thing has changed since. The charming logo outside and on the chopsticks sleeve perfectly expresses the enjoyable ambience that awaits within. One step into the deeply atmospheric interior and you are greeted with warmth flowing from the close relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Yamanaka who together run the restaurant.

Your eyes first take in the impeccably kept shiny stainless-steel refrigerator, the teppan cooktop, and the well-loved oven, which conjures up images of the many fortunate guests who have preceded you in partaking in this feast. Accented with red tiles and red placemats, the interior has a cozy, retro feel, and standing in the middle of the open kitchen is Chef Yamanaka – a jolly man with full, rosy cheeks and smile that makes you smile.

Surrounding the kitchen are eleven counter seats, and there is table seating for twelve people both on the first and second floors. With beautiful sides of beef on display through the refrigerator doors, your taste buds are stimulated before a single dish arrives.

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CUISINE

WAGYU beyond compare.

Kyoto is most commonly associated with elegant, refined Japanese cuisine, so it may be a surprise to learn that it also has a long, deeply rooted beef culture. Despite tight competition in Kyoto, with the unparalleled quality of its restaurants and discerning customers, Kuishinbo Yamanaka remains a mainstay on the must-visit list of global gourmands. That’s because the chef is a master of his craft and has perfected preparation of the rarest form of wagyu. Many decades ago the chef fell in love with pureblood Tajima Omi Beef – the only variety offered here – and in the forty years since he has never strayed from his style, which turned the industry on its head at the time of opening.

The creed here is simple: offer the ultimate in beef cuisine. That’s why the chef chooses to serve only pureblood cattle beef, and why it is always served fresh, not aged. Everything on the diverse menu from steak to hamburg patties and beef cutlet is made purely from genuine wagyu. In pursuit of the best, Yamanaka hides nothing, showcasing the precious beef in every dish.

A course begins with a beef hors d’oeuvre of Omi Beef stewed in red wine, with a fantastic texture and flavor infused to the core. Next comes a fish hors d’oeuvre – the traditional French preparation of fumet de poisson. The beautiful flesh is simmered to just one quarter its original size and lavishly dressed in aromatic butter sauce. The chef’s signature golden consommé soup is a masterpiece resulting from four days of work extracting flavor. It is elevated by the heady aromas of sherry and cognac, and the gelée topping is formed with natural gelatin from the cow shinbone.

The pinnacle of any course is the steak – a generous serve of Omi Beef. Prepared right before your eyes on a 280°C cooktop within the counter, excitement builds as Yamanaka moves with finesse to cook the steak seventy percent from the top and the remainder from the flipside, seasoning only with salt, pepper, and a few drops of soy sauce. The aromas wafting from the cooktop are irresistible, and the simple seasoning ensures the beef’s natural umami is the star. You can hardly wait another second to devour the steak as you watch the chef methodically cut it into bite-sized morsels for you.

Everything at Yamanaka is designed to be eaten with chopsticks, and you won’t be able to put them down after you experience the juicy, meaty flavors in that first mouthful. When asked about the key to those flavors, Yamanaka says, “you just have to cook it right. That’s it. I don’t do anything special. “

INGREDIENTS
It was the express wish of Chef Yamanaka to focus here on the beef. For without it, there would be no Kuishinbo Yamanaka, and the beef that can be enjoyed at Yamanaka is like no other. For starters, it is one of Japan’s premier wagyu brands – Omi Beef – with a history of more than 400 years. Add to that the fact that Yamanaka’s trusted supplier of 40 years, Maruki Fukunaga Kisaburo Shoten in Higashi Omi City, only raises pureblood Tajima cattle on its farms in the rich natural environment of Shiga Prefecture. Tajima cattle are considered very hardy and are prized in breeding and even crossbreeding, but several farmers in Shiga are dedicated to maintaining the heritage of pure bloodline Tajima cattle, making the beef from these cattle a true treasure.

Delivered on the bone — simply not available on the general market – in addition to having very fine fat marbling, the beef is distinguished by its lustrous fat and sweet, smooth flavor. According to Yamanaka, the color of quality beef is not pink but rather the hue of azuki beans, a popular ingredient in traditional Japanese sweets. The desirable color needs to be ascertained from the face of the meat the moment it is sliced. Yamanaka stores all the cuts in the fridge set to -3°C, but because quality beef contains little moisture, it will not freeze even at these levels. The beef is carefully wrapped in cotton cloth for storage and never aged. Yamanaka is adamant that it should be eaten fresh: even in its freshest condition truly premium beef is packed with plenty of power and umami.

The sauces are all handmade in-house and all the other ingredients used at Yamanaka are meticulously researched and selected, because as Yamanaka says, “The secret to delicious food is authentic ingredients.” The seafood is all wild caught and selected by the chef, who uses his keen eye honed through a long-lived passion for fishing and says that quality ingredients grow ever more delicious as they are simmered down, a fact demonstrated in his delicious fish hors d’oeuvre.

Kuishinbo Yamanaka cuisine #0
Kuishinbo Yamanaka cuisine #1

CHEF

Koji Yamanaka

Koji Yamanaka was born in Kyoto Prefecture in 1949. As a voracious eater from a young age, there was no better choice for his restaurant’s name than “Kuishinbo”, which means exactly that. In his university days, Yamanaka’s part-time job earnings were all spent on delicious foods, one particular favorite being a restaurant serving an array of grilled delicacies. However, when a visit disappointed with the flavor of the signature sauce changing for the worse, it dawned on Yamanaka that perhaps he could become a chef. If he did, he would work diligently to serve the same delicious flavors to guests day after day. Initially he contemplated managing a coffee lounge, and thus took up work at a Kobe coffee shop after graduating from university. But then his eyes were opened to the possibilities for beef and he left to work at the steakhouse GINO in Shiga Prefecture, where he stayed for three years. Asked about his experiences there, Yamanaka says he received no special training in these times – his skills are all self-taught.

By the time Yamanaka went independent with his restaurant in Katsura, Kyoto, he had already developed all the recipes and ingredients in use today. Constantly perfecting them over 40 years, the soon-to-be-seventy Yamanaka’s passion burns strong as he takes his place in the kitchen. He is very closely supported by his wife, who is by Yamanaka’s side every day taking charge of service at the restaurant. On his days off, the chef enjoys exploring new places on foot to taste their signature treats, and he especially loves the chance to go out fishing.

VISION
The chef thinks of nothing but giving his all to maintaining his restaurant as it has always been. It is of greatest importance to Yamanaka to build on each day’s work for the satisfaction of guests who travel far to savor his fare. Amid an unprecedented beef boom, countless different styles are on offer, but this chef simply wants guests to taste the real thing – especially young people. If he could continuously reach just one more person with his authentic cuisine, Yamanaka would be satisfied that he is achieving his vision.

Course

Lunch
Lunch steak course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥11,500
¥11,500
Reservation Request
Dinner/ Lunch
Sirloin special Course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥22,500
¥22,500
Reservation Request
Dinner/ Lunch
Fillet special course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥26,500
¥26,500
Reservation Request

Kyoto

Kuishinbo Yamanaka

くいしんぼー山中

PRICE
¥11,500
~
CHILD
6
& UP
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Wagyu, Katsura
ADDRESS
1F, 26-26 Goryomizouracho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
OPEN
11:30-13:00 (LO), 17:00-19:30 (LO)
CLOSED
Tuesday
URL
NA
PHONE
+81-75-392-3745

RESERVATION

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