A vivid red shop curtain beckons you into Kyoto’s Nikuryori Kanae – an exhilarating space run by passionate, food-loving siblings. Every element of the experience is guided by the pair’s incredible sense of ingredient selection, complementarity, and desire to surprise with new taste sensations. It is fun and eye-opening but, most importantly, jaw-droppingly delicious.
Cherry blossoms line the breathtaking Takase River canal adjacent to Kiyamachi-dori in central Kyoto. Toward the back of a building, a bright red noren shop curtain wavers gently with its hiragana letters for Kanae, indicating you have arrived at the highly acclaimed niku-kappo restaurant, Nikuryori Kanae. Showcasing kuroge wagyu – beef from the Japanese Black breed considered the pinnacle of Japanese beef – ingenious recipes and creative combinations abound. And the sauces that make every bite a new sensation make this a must-go destination for meat lovers.
Enjoy the preparation right before your eyes and be warmed by the hospitality of the brother-sister pair from the moment you sit at the counter until it is time to go home. Proprietress Kanae moves nimbly behind the counter, carefully explaining dishes and beef cuts to guests, checking their appetite, and communicating with Chef Ryosuke, who works his magic as chef, tweaking the course accordingly.
Fun and eye-opening
Nikuryori Kanae guests can enjoy a chef’s course of thirteen to fifteen dishes featuring wagyu but showcasing excellent culinary skills and an array of seasonal ingredients. To start, braised tongue is served with a seasonal vegetable pureed soup, like a velvety combination of potato and Awajishima onions, served in a beautiful, lidded bowl repaired personally by Kanae using kintsugi gold lacquering techniques. This is followed by a quartet of raw pieces, including tongue served with an original sauce combining wasabi and Daitokuji natto fermented soybeans. Next, raw lean red meat is served with an egg yolk, green onion sprouts, and truffle oil, topped with a caramel-colored foam that does not look but will taste very familiar. It is soy sauce beaten into a foam – apparently the invention of a Kyoto sushi chef who wanted to make it easier for his geisha guests to enjoy sushi without worrying about spilling soy sauce on their stunning kimono. Mix all the ingredients together and devour this new taste and texture sensation.
Be treated to special-order ramen noodles coated in a delectable dressing of Chinese chili oil and grapefruit juice and topped with crushed almonds and pretty purple shiso flowers. Then shabu-shabu of impossibly thin pieces of beef passed briefly through piping hot dashi. The steak sandwich is made from an incredibly rare beef cut called ramshin, nestled between the rump and aitchbone. It is cooked to perfection and served on golden-brown, toasted bread, which guests are encouraged to dip into the homemade mayonnaise of Oita-raised Rano eggs, vinegar, and white balsamic. The green shiso pickled vegetables provide the perfect crunchy accent.
The sumptuous beef dishes continue with a series of grilled dishes, including skirt steak with seasonal vegetables, accompanied by two sauces to enjoy as you please: a mushroom sauce and a black vinegar and balsamic sauce. Hearty dishes with rice round out the heavenly course: homemade Japanese-style curry, a chazuke rice dish topped with beef simmered in soy sauce, and a beef bowl flavored with Chinese-style sauce.
The course flow and composition change based on the availability of ingredients, and the Kitaguchis are constantly experimenting with ingenious sauce creations, which truly expand the flavor possibilities. While it sounds like a heavy, filling meal, the flavors and combinations sit so well in your tummy, and the joy of the experience beckons you to come and do it all again.
The star ingredient, kuroge wagyu Japanese Black beef, is supplied by a butcher entrusted with selecting the best each season offers. More than brand, the focus is on the condition and best timing for enjoying the beef, which means the restaurant also uses quality meat from cows that have already given birth, known as keisangyu. While less favored in the past, beef from such cattle is truly delicious when raised well. The freshest possible organ meat is delivered directly to the restaurant by a highly dependable specialist. Fresh, seasonal vegetables and herbs come mostly from Kyoto, but specialist items like onions from Awajishima, Hyogo Prefecture, watercress from Fukui, and Rano eggs from Oita supplement the supply. All are chosen carefully and personally by the Kitaguchis only after tasting and total satisfaction with the quality and shipped direct from the farms where they are raised. Base seasonings used in the restaurant’s signature sauces are also selected for compatibility with the cuisine after multiple tastings. The beverage selection centers on Kyoto sake varieties but also includes an array of white wine and lighter red wines from France and Italy that pair wonderfully with the beef cuisine.
Ryosuke and Kanae Kitaguchi
While the quality of the beef is an integral factor in flavor in this genre, it alone does not define Nikuryori Kanae’s cuisine, where great effort is spent on developing sauces and seasonings. Every sauce you taste here is the proud result of countless hours of trial and error. The soy sauce foam, for example, is made by combining soy sauce, water, and gelatin and heated gently to stiffen, but it is tweaked each season for the ideal firmness and flavor. All the seasonings are homemade and highly involved. The chili oil contains Korean red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppers, star anise, dried citrus peel, flavored oil, honey, wasambon sugar, and many more. The okra and chives sauce contains healthful ingredients like finger lime, white balsamic, and honey.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000