Kyoto has a proud culture of dining on beef and a multitude of yakiniku grilled beef restaurants to match, but one that stands out from the crowd is Yakiniku Yamachan. It was opened in April 2020 by Ryuji Yamagishi, younger brother to the chef-owner of the notoriously hard-to-book Tominokoji Yamagishi. Having trained at one of Tokyo’s best yakiniku restaurants and combining exquisite beef dishes with traditional Japanese cuisine reminiscent of Tominokoji Yamagishi, dining here on your next visit to Kyoto is imperative.
Near Kawaramachi nightlife town and the Karasuma business district is an area called Takoyakushi Kojiyamachi. Lined with eateries attracting locals and tourists alike, this neighborhood is like a chronicle of Kyoto’s history of beef cuisine with restaurants featuring homestyle favorites, such as nikujaga stew and curry, a long-established sukiyaki restaurant, casual yakiniku eateries, and a high-end counter restaurant focused on beef. Among them is a restaurant that shines a little differently because while it declares itself to be a yakiniku restaurant, it is imbued with the essence of traditional Japanese cuisine thanks to its association with Michelin-starred Tominokoji Yamagishi. Utilizing the same ingredients and dashi base and serving the signature “uniku dog” paying homage to the original “uni dog” with lashings of smooth, velvety sea urchin, Yakiniku Yamachan has mastered the formula for entrancing guests.
The owner’s son Shion has been in charge since the summer of 2022, having learned the ropes while helping out during his university days. Having initially thought he would become a high school teacher, Shion Yamagishi grew enamored with the depth and potential of beef and thus embarked on his dream of building the restaurant into a space to welcome more people to savor the exquisite cuisine. He clearly has his father’s talent and is already responsible for everything from beef selection to preparation, cooking, and presentation.
Washoku X Wagyu
Dinner at Yakiniku Yamachan is a degustation fusing washoku, traditional Japanese cuisine, and premium wagyu. It begins with beef tartare and weaves through a bowl of flavorful simmered ingredients and hot pot dishes, the signature “uniku dog”, and an array of beef cuts chargrilled to perfection. And it closes with reimen chilled noodles or comforting curry to ensure you go home with a full tummy. Grilling meat may look simple, but the chefs calculate cook time and method based on that day’s temperature, humidity, and other factors. Tongue as soft as silk, shoulder meat with the perfect amount of fat – it is hard to stop yourself when it tastes so good. And it may not be easy to dine on yakiniku anywhere else again.
It begins with an amuse bouche of Yamazaki beef sirloin, thinly sliced and served in a salty-sweet sauce. A precursor to the meat to come, this amuse-bouche is a chance to savor, pure and simple, the natural umami of beef. In autumn, this will be followed by a rich, savory dish of matsutake mushrooms and Saga beef sirloin shabu-shabu. The matsutake are blanched in the signature dashi of kombu and bonito, giving it depth and umami, which in turn injects incredible aromas into the beef. Another memorable dish is deep-fried Kyoto eggplant steeped in flavorful dashi and paired with the chewy texture of urute – cartilage from the cow’s windpipe. Accompanied by fried ginkgo nuts, the dish comes together as a refreshing mouthful dressed in a vinegared gelée.
Guests will be delighted when the signature “uniku dog” arrives. Fashioned on a hot dog, this is a beefed-up version of the “uni dog” served at Tominokoji Yamagishi. Taut, crisp, toasted seaweed filled with vinegared rice is topped with grilled sirloin and lashings of Hokkaido Bafun sea urchin. The sumptuous flavors continue with tongue sliced differently each day, depending on the supply and weather. It is flame-grilled for just a few seconds before being dressed in a sauce combining chopped scallions, salt and pepper, sesame oil, and lemon juice. And to close the meal with a reminder that the focus here is beef, you will be served a chargrilled assortment of five beef cuts, including marushin knuckle main muscle, misuji top blade, and sagari hanging tender, served with a sauce of kombu dashi and soy sauce.
The quality of beef has always been paramount at Yakiniku Yamachan. The sirloin that features in the amuse bouche of beef tartare and appears as delectable thin slices in the shabu-shabu and sukiyaki dishes, for example, is kuroge wagyu from Miyazaki or Saga prefectures. Only pedigree cows whose lineage is well-known over multiple generations are selected. The restaurant purchases the best whole carcasses and ages them in specialized refrigerators at a Kobe butcher shop, only delivering them to Kyoto once they reach their peak. For the offal meats like tongue and hanging tender, Yamagishi only procures types known as musui, meaning the parts from each animal are carefully washed individually – not mixed in with others. This dramatically increases the price but ensures delicious flavor and no unwanted aromas. Yamagishi slices beef parts impossibly thin depending on the part and cooking method – the tongue, for example, is between 1.8 and 2.2 millimeters – to accentuate the natural umami of each part.
Pinot Noir and Sangiovese wines are the chef’s choice for the perfect pairing with beef. But there is an extensive selection of beverages for every taste, including champagne, Japanese whisky, beer, shochu (distilled liquor made from sweet potatoes, rice, or other grains), and the refreshing drink known as lemon sour, combining shochu, soda water, and lemon juice.
The fundamental appeal of Yakiniku Yamachan that cannot be replicated elsewhere is the combination with the exquisite washoku cuisine of Tominokoji Yamagishi. Neither pure washoku nor pure yakiniku cuisine, Yamachan is determined to perfect a course that fuses the two. All the non-beef ingredients, including matsutake mushrooms and Kyoto eggplant, are shared with that restaurant. Chef Shion Yamagishi visits the main restaurant daily to collect kombu and bonito flakes to make the signature dashi. Even the sea urchin integral to the signature dish is the same premium product.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000