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炭火割烹 いふき

Fascinated by the art of charcoal grilling, a Kyoto chef reimagines traditional kappo cuisine with style and originality. Using only the finest ingredients, Sumibikappou Ifuki’s signature dishes such as seared tuna and roast bear are perfected by his self-taught techniques and exquisite aesthetics. Set in an old Kyoto tea house in the heart of Gion, enjoy the warm atmosphere as you wait for the delightful surprises.

First, immerse yourself in the beautiful ambiance of the old capital as you walk down the Hanamikoji Dori to find Sumibikappou Ifuki. As you turn a corner, you will spot a little red lantern with the restaurant’s name hanging next to large white noren drapes. Renovating an old two-story machiya townhouse, the architecture is full of traditional details.

The air inside is sophisticated yet inviting. On the first floor is a smooth wooden counter that sits as many as nine guests. You can see through the half window onto the well-tended garden where seasonal flowers bloom. There is also a lovely private room in the back, set with a large table made of a single plant of hinoki wood and an antique cabinet.

After years of training at classic Japanese restaurants in Kyoto as well as Tokyo, Chef Norio Yamamoto opened his own restaurant with a desire to create something new. While the foundation of his cuisine is traditionally Japanese, he has added his own style by centering the menu around the charcoal grill. Reflecting his vision, the name of the restaurant takes on the word for breath in Japanese. Most importantly, what makes an evening here so memorable is the warm and welcoming hospitality of the chef and his wife.

At the center of the open kitchen is a large open grill that you can look onto from every seat at the counter. Recently upgraded, the grill is a custom design by Koichi Uchida, made of a single piece of ceramic. It’s incredible entertainment to watch the chef perform his flawless technique as he cooks each ingredient over the cracking charcoal.

Tableware has an important place at Sumibikappou Ifuki, with each recipe beautifully presented in the appropriate dish. The dining trays set across the counter are from a rare set made during the early Showa period, each printed with a poem from Hyakunin Isshu, a classical anthology of one hundred Japanese waka. The collection of vivid and colorful Moretti pieces from Italy adds a modern and non-traditional aesthetic.



The art of charcoal grilling

It is all about the grill at Sumibikappou Ifuki. The sounds of the crackling charcoal echoes in the open space, filling up the room with delicious smokiness. Your eyes follow the chef’s swift moves as he works the fresh ingredients over the hot grill. The seasonal omakase menu is composed of about ten dishes, mostly of their speciality grills.

“Charcoal adds this great aroma while keeping the moisture inside each ingredient, Yamamoto says. “This method gives you a score of 120%, without having have to put in extra work.”

The way to master the art of charcoal grilling comes down to craftsmanship, the chef explains. The precise time of cooking is determined by the condition of the ingredients, the day’s weather and other subtle variables. To get the perfect heat and smoke, the chef mixes Bincho charcoal from Hinata and Laos. He also needs to keep the meal flowing at a steady pace.

The bluefin tuna has become the restaurant’s signature dish. At first glance, the soft pink slices of tuna looks like sashimi. The moment you put it in your mouth, you realize the fish is just delicately seared, adding more sweetness and umami. The grated spicy radish adds a perfect accent.

The pufferfish milt is served on a beautiful Millefiori Moretti plate of blue and yellow mosaics. The creamy milt is just lightly grilled and draped on a hot bed of rice, drizzled with sesame-infused soy sauce and tossed with a generous heap of shaved black truffles. A breathtaking dish to remember the meal by.

A limited menu for December and January is a bear roast, slow-cooked for over 20 minutes over the crackling charcoal. The meat, which comes from bears in Gifu Prefecture, has been maturing for two to three weeks under snow. Drizzled with spicy sansho pepper sauce and Shimonita onion paste, the rich umami and sweet fat of the meat melt in your mouth.

The blackthroat seaperch is grilled to perfection, with the skin lightly browned and crisp and the meat so succulent and moist. The fish is topped with flavorful morsels of Bafun sea urchin and fried kuwai arrowroot chips. The mix of different textures is simply amazing.

Slices of abalone are stacked up on top of each other and sprinkled generously with homemade karasumi or salting mullet roe. Every year, Yamamoto makes about 10 kg of karasumi to use in various recipes. The abalone is caught off the shores of Obama in Fukui Prefecture. The crab is grilled quickly for just six or seven minutes to keep its freshness. To allow its natural flavor to come out, he doesn’t add much more to the dish except for a couple of tiny Tiny kabura radishes on the side.

Yamamoto sources most of the seafood such as sweet bream, blackthroat seaperch and crab from a close vendor in Fukui Prefecture. His favorite is the Shibayama crabs caught off the coast of Kami in Hyogo Prefecture. He also likes to check for fresh catches at the central market. The meats are sent directly from producers he knows well. The bear meat comes from different matagis, traditional winter hunters in northern Japan.

He is committed to sourcing local Kyoto grown vegetables such as the green onions grown in the Takagamine district of Kyoto. The salt comes from Kumihamacho in Kyotango, while the Habutae rice grains are grown in Shiga Prefecture. Mazuma wasabi is grown in Niigata or Shizuoka. Not restricted to specific producers or region, he is always on the watch for new ingredients across the country. The magic of charcoal unleashes the natural flavors in these selected ingredients. The method may seem simple at first but a lot of work and focus go into selecting the best quality ingredients.

Ifuki cuisine #0
Ifuki cuisine #1


Norio Yamamoto

Norio Yamamoto was born in Kyoto in 1972. With relatives who were chefs at Japanese and Chinese restaurants, he grew up with a natural draw to cooking and decided to become a chef himself. At just 16 years of age, he began training at top restaurants including Kawashosoen in Tsukiji and Ajihana in Gion.

As he continued his training, Yamamoto became interested in charcoal grilling and spent the next four years learning everything there was to know about the art. Purely self-taught, he made himself a master of the technique.

In 2005, he opened Sumibikappou Ifuki in the heart of Pontocho, one of Kyoto's most atmospheric dining districts. With its new approach to use charcoal grilling in traditional kappo cuisine, the restaurant quickly became popular, making it difficult to get reservations. In 2011, the restaurant moved to the current location in Gion.

You can tell how much Yamamoto loves being a chef when his face brightens up as he shares the stories behind his recipes and restaurant. His newest culinary interest is in game meat. On days off, he goes out to try all sorts of cuisines with his wife, who is also the okami of the restaurant.

“I want to explore the potential of charcoal grilling even more,” Yamamoto says. “Also, even though I taught myself, I want to make sure I pass on what I’ve learned to my apprentices.” He is focused on giving everything to his work on a daily basis and to continue improving his restaurant.


As a wine collector himself, Yamamoto keeps a highly curated selection, focused on quality over fame. About 60-70% of the selected wines come from France, while the rest are made up of unique picks from Australia, Italy as well as Japan. He buys the wine from an experienced importer he trusts, who has in the past helped him get his hands on some rare vintages held by a three-star Michelin restaurant in France. Taste some rare Japanese bottles such as the Tsukika from Domaine Mie Ikeno. He also stocks seven to eight different Champagnes as well as about ten brands of sake from various regions.


Ifuki Short course (9-10 courses)
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  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
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Ifuki omakase course (11 courses)
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
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Ifuki TABLEALL special course (11 courses with more luxurious ingredients)
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
Reservation Request



炭火割烹 いふき

& UP
2-8 people
Kaiseki, Gion
1F, 京都府京都市東山区祇園町南側570-8
5PM-8PM (LO)


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