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8 Affordable Michelin-Starred and Bib Gourmand-Recommended Restaurants in Kyoto

By Avah Atherton
Updated: March 27, 2024

Japan's cultural capital is not one without great food. Kyoto's thriving culinary scene includes internationally renowned roasteries and centuries-old wagashi stores. Unsurprisingly, the city is also home to a few Michelin-starred restaurants. How many Michelin-star restaurants are in Kyoto, you ask? At the time of writing, Kyoto's Michelin-star restaurants tabulate to just about 95 establishments, with 100 more Bib Gourmand recommendations. These restaurants offer a range of cuisines, from traditional Japanese kaiseki to French.

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That Michelin Guide-recommended restaurants all come with a hefty price tag is a common misconception. Yes, you'll find plenty of fine-dining establishments, but a fair share of affordable spots, too. The guide has recognized exceptional value-for-money restaurants through its Bib Gourmand Award, given to establishments offering a high-quality meal at a reasonable price point.

Many Michelin-starred restaurants in Kyoto are affordable, allowing visitors to taste the city's high-quality cuisine without breaking the bank. Remember that affordability is relative, and what one person may consider a reasonable price may not be the same for another. For good measure, our list of recommendations below also includes some budget Bib Gourmand picks. 

Hitting the capital first? Check out our list of affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo.

1. Torisaki

Torisaki

Located in Takoyacho, Torisaki is famous for its yakitori. Made with chicken from Fukushima Prefecture and Kishu-binchotan charcoal, Torisaki's grilled chicken skewers are smokey and flavorful. The restaurant also serves rice bowls, kimchi and pork belly. Sit at the counter for an up-close look at the kitchen, or reserve a private room for a more intimate setting. Each skewer comes with a generous amount of meat, and the omakase course starts at ¥13,000, so go hungry. 

2. Funaokayama Shimizu

Funaokayama Shimizu

This unassuming restaurant has one Michelin star and serves traditional Japanese cuisine featuring fresh seafood. Funaokayama Shimizu is known for its sashimi platters and grilled fish dishes. Sit back, relax, and awe at skilled chefs preparing every dish before your eyes. Expect to spend between ¥5,000 and ¥15,000 for a meal here, but the experience? It's priceless.

Reserve a table at Funaokayama Shimizu before April 26, 2024, and get 20% off. Use the promo code BYFOOD20 at checkout.

3. Menya Inoichi Hanare

Menya Inoichi Hanare

Yes, there's Michelin-worthy ramen in Kyoto, too. Menya Inoichi Hanare is a cozy eatery with a range of ramen dishes. But it's the tsukemen, or dipping ramen, that we recommend ordering. The signature dashi soba comes in two varieties: the lightly seasoned "white" and the full-bodied "black." Both are topped with freshly shaved katsuobushi (dried and fermented bonito flakes) to bring out every ounce of umami. Every fan of noodles needs to eat at Menya Inoichi Hanare. The lunch sets start at around ¥1,000, while the dinner courses are about ¥3,500. Not too shabby for a one-starred restaurant! 

4. Tenyu

The inside of Tenyu, a tempura restaurant in Kyoto

Tempura the way it's meant to be prepared, served and enjoyed. Tenyu sets the highest bar by serving light and crisp (but not greasy!) tempura in an intimate setting just outside of downtown Kyoto. Its secret is its use of seasonal Kyoto-grown ingredients and cottonseed oil, which helps bring out natural flavors. Tenyu's specialty dish, sea urchin tempura, is crispy yet irresistibly smooth. It defies both gravity and your expectations. A full-course midday meal starts at ¥6,000 here. There is no reason for you not to book your seat ASAP. 

If you're down for tempura, book a table at Tenyu on byFood.

5. Juu-go

Juu-go has been awarded a Bib Gourmand and a Michelin Green Star for its commitment to environmental sustainability. Owner and chef Akiya Ishibashi sources his buckwheat from select Japanese prefectures, but he also grows his own. His dream is to work out a zero-waste production process to make delicious soba. At his restaurant Juu-go in Higashiyama, we recommend trying either the juwari soba (100% buckwheat flour) or the sobagaki, both reasonably priced at ¥1,500. 

6. MOTOÏ

MOTOÏ

MOTOÏ is a one-Michelin-starred restaurant specializing in fusion cuisine. The establishment earned a Michelin star in its first year of business — an impressive feat — and has maintained it since. Treat yourself to a course of dishes with inspirations from Japan, France and China in an unmistakably Kyoto atmosphere. And it's relatively affordable, priced at only ¥11,000.

After making time in your Kyoto schedule, reserve a table at MOTOÏ.

7. Izuu

Izuu is a one-Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in the heart of Kyoto, best known for its delicious sushi and sashimi. Inside, Izuu is traditional and elegant, with wooden furniture, tatami mats, and Japanese art adorning the walls. The restaurant's saba sugatazushi, or whole mackerel sushi, is a nod to a Kyoto tradition that dates back over 200 years. 

Head to Izuu for lunch or dinner. Their sushi sets range from ¥2,500 to ¥5,000. It's no wonder why this restaurant is a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

8. Sushi Gion Matsudaya

A sushi from Sushi Gion Matsudaya in Kyoto

Located in one of Kyoto's most picturesque neighborhoods, Sushi Gion Matsudaya serves Edo-style sushi that aims to put a smile on guests' faces. This restaurant is one of the few to have a menu that's never fixed. Chef Matsuda chooses the freshest ingredients at the local market every single morning and prepares them using traditional techniques. At Sushi Gion Matsudaya, you can experience the conventional and unconventional, and the staff's warm hospitality is the icing on the cake. This is the priciest restaurant on this list, with a starting price of ¥25,000.

Reserve a table at Sushi Gion Matsudaya before April 26, 2024, and get 20% off. Use the promo code BYFOOD20 at checkout.

A store front of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Kyoto

What To Expect at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant in Kyoto

There are many Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto, but you can expect slightly different experiences. Tokyo establishments sometimes focus on international cuisines, whereas Michelin-starred restaurants in Kyoto tend to serve traditional Japanese cuisine. In Kyoto, you can expect a more casual atmosphere that will tingle all of your senses; in Tokyo, restaurants are more formal, perhaps better suited for special occasions and anniversaries. For modern and innovative menus, Tokyo is the place to go. For traditional techniques and strictly Japanese ingredients, head to Kyoto.

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Check out our handy guide highlighting what to eat in Kyoto to make sure you don't miss out on local delicacies and regional specialties. Alternatively, book a food tour led by local experts on all things Kyoto.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Avah Atherton
Avah, a proud Trinidadian, has a meat mouth, a sweet tooth, and a mission to find good food and great experiences. Based in Tokyo, she enjoys long walks (especially if they lead to somewhere delicious), reading, live performances, and art exhibitions.
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