Savor the Best 15 Michelin Restaurants in Kyoto

By Ryan Noble
Updated: March 15, 2024

From the second you step off the plane and into the land of Japan, Kyoto is probably on your to-do list — especially if you’re following our 3-day Kyoto itinerary or our 7-day Japan itinerary for first-time visitors

Not only does Kyoto retain so much of its history and traditional beauty from its days as Japan’s capital, with over 1,600 temples to show for it, but this city also has a thriving culture of food for all occasions and tastes.

You can discover restaurants, cafes, and stalls with all the must-try traditional Japanese foods, but you didn’t think it stopped there, did you? Much like Kyoto’s eye-catching kimonos, glorious geisha, and gold leaf-coated Kinkaku-ji Temple, this city isn’t afraid to take things up a notch, boasting a wide variety of Michelin star restaurants often crossing boundaries of flavor, expertise, and even country.

So, let’s take you on a journey through the best Michelin star restaurants in Kyoto.

Michelin star vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Kyoto 

As you may already know from our Kyoto vegan guide, Kyoto isn’t short of options when it comes to cuisine for all dietary restrictions — that also extends to Kyoto’s best Michelin star restaurants, with vegetarian and vegan options available too!

1. Honke Tankuma Honten

The front entrance to Honke Tankuma Honten, decorated with bamboo and a traditional sliding door.

Honke Tankuma Honten is run by Kumasaburo Kurisu, known as “The God of Cookery” and a real pioneer when it comes to traditional Kyoto kappo cuisine — referring to the way the dishes will be prepared right in front of you, often while the chef explains what they’re doing and what you can expect from each dish.

Step into this Kyoto-style traditional house with private tatami rooms and indulge in authentic Kyoto cuisine that changes with the seasons. What hasn’t changed is the techniques used to bring out the delicate flavors, with Kumasaburo’s skills passed down from chef to chef throughout generations of Japanese cooking.

Vegetarian, kosher, and halal-friendly menus: Kumasaburo has been to over 70 countries, expanding his knowledge and understanding of international food culture. From these experiences, he’s also crafted vegetarian, kosher, and halal menus.

Book your seat for this Michelin star kappo restaurant in Kyoto!

2. Kyoboshi (Michelin star tempura restaurant)

Vegetable tempura at Kyoboshi, a Michelin star tempura restaurant in Kyoto.

Kyoboshi is a third-generation Michelin star tempura restaurant with a few secrets behind their success, including a secret eggless batter, salts, and oil blends.

Clearly, the experts at the Michelin Guide saw this same potential, putting their seal of approval on Kyoboshi’s tempura omakase menu. Featuring a mix of vegetable and seafood tempura in their gentle, eggless batter — and paired with only salt and lemon as seasoning — the ingredients' freshness and flavors will shine.

Expect a tantalizing tempura set-course offering that will take you on a delicious journey through around 18 courses of light, crispy morsels. 

Vegetarian tempura tip: If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, let the chef know at the time of booking so that he can prepare a somewhat personalized menu for you.

Taste Michelin star Kyoto tempura at Kyoboshi!

Michelin star Chinese restaurants in Kyoto 

You may be in Japan, but who says you can’t have a craving for the delights of Chinese cuisine? Especially when Kyoto also has a selection of Michelin star Chinese restaurants just waiting to welcome you after a day of exploring temples.

3. Kyou Seika

A delicately prepared dish at Kyou Seika, a Michelin star Chinese restaurant in Kyoto. It is decorated with flowers and petals.

Kyou Seika is the culmination of Miyamoto Shizuo’s time at the Chinese Cooking Academy, honing his passion and skill for classic Chinese cuisine. So, if you’ve been searching for Michelin star Chinese food in Kyoto, it’s back on the menu!

Boasting a tempting 12-course meal that changes with each season, you’ll always find new surprises alongside a selection of your favorite Chinese classics, from spring rolls and omi beef to duck. For that authentic, relaxing experience, you’ll also enjoy a cup of freshly brewed oolong tea with your meal, leaving you feeling satisfied and ready to explore more of Kyoto’s must-see sights.

Experience Michelin star Chinese food in Kyoto at Kyou Seika!

Michelin star French restaurants in Kyoto 

Oui, oui, Kyoto’s best Michelin star restaurants even include French cuisine, taking your taste buds on a journey to France without stepping onto another long-haul flight!

4. Reine des Pres

A carefully presented dish at Reine des Pres, a Michelin star French restaurant in Kyoto.

Reine des Pres may be known for its specialty in slow-cooking cuisine, but this is one Michelin star French restaurant near Kyoto’s Imperial Palace that you should be rushing to. 

Imagine it — while you’re catching the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, or taking snaps of the sights and temples of this historic city, your meal has likely been slow-cooking the entire time, soaking up the juices and flavors that make these dishes worthy of their Michelin star. 

Chef Nakahara Fumitaka trained in the Michelin star restaurants of Paris, and now he’s brought his mastery of texture, taste, and timings to Kyoto, where he’s created a fusion of lighter French food with a Japanese twist — including flounder with clams and a tender roast chicken breast. You’ve never tried anything like this before.

Experience Michelin star French cuisine in Kyoto at Reine des Pres!

Michelin star Italian restaurants in Kyoto 

For those times when you need a break from traditional Japanese cuisine and feel like a more international experience, you can rely on Kyoto’s Michelin star Italian restaurants.

5. Cenci

A dish at Cenci, the Michelin star Italian restaurant in Kyoto. Meat in garnished with herbs.

Moments from one of Kyoto’s most eye-catching spots, the Heian Shrine, Cenci is the Michelin star Italian restaurant that’s tempting you to take a detour for one of the most luxurious dining experiences in Kyoto.

While the dishes are unmistakably Italian in inspiration — with the likes of clam chowder with cauliflower and mussels, charcoal-grilled duck, and a cabbage and oyster risotto on offer — their creation and presentation is undeniably Japanese, drawing on local, seasonal ingredients. Buon appetito!

Craving Michelin star Italian food in Kyoto? Book a table at Cenci!

Michelin star kaiseki and kappo restaurants in Kyoto 

Lean into the luxury of Kyoto’s Michelin star kaiseki and kappo restaurants — displaying the finest of multi-course meals and creating an intimate dining experience between you and the chef, respectively — and explore Kyoto’s more traditional food culture.

6. Gion Sasaki

A selection of desserts on a tray at Gion Sasaki, the Michelin star kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto.

Kappo and kaiseki cuisine are as common as stunning temples and shrines in the city of Kyoto, but not many places can offer Michelin star traditional Japanese food quite like Gion Sasaki. With 3 Michelin stars, this 19-seat restaurant is understandably difficult to get into, but when you do, you’ll discover a delicious and dynamic dining experience that’s well worth the wait.

You may be handed a brush to paint soy sauce onto your sushi platter or be served conger eel in a small shrine, all while the restaurant’s signature stone charcoal oven creates unique, smoky dishes before your very eyes.

Savor Michelin star kappo in Kyoto at Gion Sasaki!

7. Maeda

A table decoration at Maeda, a Michelin star restaurant in Kyoto. It looks like a Japanese temple and Zen rock garden inside a fishbowl.

Named after its talented chef-owner, Maeda Yujiro, Maeda is an intimate, 10-seat restaurant serving up traditional Japanese food worthy of 3 Michelin stars. In fact, some say Maeda’s cooking is the best Kyo-ryori in Kyoto, putting his own spin on many heritage dishes with his choice of ingredients.

So, if you’ve come to Kyoto for a taste of Japan’s history and traditions, make time for a meal at Maeda. You’re sure to taste hundreds of years of Japanese culture with a nod towards contemporary delights too!

Bring a friend: The minimum party size at Maeda is two people, so be sure to bring a plus-one for your dining experience. 

Make your mouth water at Maeda, a Kyoto restaurant with 3 Michelin stars!

8. Nakamura

A dessert at Nakamura, a Michelin star restaurant in Kyoto. A persimmon is cut in half and resting on a red-orange leaf.

Passed down through six generations of the Nakamura family, Nakamura Motokazu is the latest chef-owner of Nakamura, a world of its own in the traditional art of kaiseki cuisine. With 3 Michelin stars to its name, each dish is as thoughtful as the restaurant’s concept, based on the beauty and fleeting nature of the transience of life.

You’ll be served a selection of dishes that exude grace and centuries of culture, with modern interpretations of many traditional Japanese dishes, from fried tilefish dressed in sake to white miso rice soup with mustard. 

If Kyoto’s elegance could be refined into one dining experience, this would be it.

Book a 3-star Michelin meal of traditional Japanese food at Nakamura!

Sustainable Michelin star restaurants in Kyoto 

If sustainability and eco-friendly practices drive your dining habits, don’t worry, Kyoto has you covered. Some of the best Kyoto restaurants even have a Michelin Green Star, meaning they’ve been recognized for their sustainable behaviors and ingredients.

9. Muromachi Wakuden

The front entrance to Muromachi Wakuden, a sustainable Michelin star restaurant in Kyoto that's based in a traditional Kyoto townhouse.

Muromachi Wakuden is a traditional kaiseki restaurant set in one of Kyoto’s traditional townhouse-style buildings — called “machiya” — and it gets its acclaimed Michelin Green Star as a result of its own dedicated farm, where they produce all of the rice used in their dishes. Talk about an eco-friendly claim to fame!

Not only that, but they also have a courtyard garden and a spacious dining area with a large hexagonal counter made of chestnut wood. It’s here that you’ll watch in awe as Chef Matsumoto Shinya materializes your dishes from fresh, local ingredients into fully-formed seasonal delicacies like wagyu beef shabu shabu, grilled abalone, conger eel wrapped in matsutake mushrooms, and the winter-exclusive snow crab.

Experience sustainable Michelin star cuisine at Muromachi Wakuden!

10. Miyamasou

A dish served in a bamboo basket at Miyamasou, an eco-friendly Michelin star restaurant in the mountains of Kyoto.

If you’re looking for Michelin star Japanese cooking in the mountains of Kyoto, Nakahigashi Hisato’s Miyamasou is where you should be heading — and we’d recommend starting your journey now since it’ll take over 2 hours from Kyoto Station.

Even so, this is sustainable dining worth traveling for, offering world-class kaiseki cuisine in spacious tatami-floored rooms that look out into the wild forests of north Kyoto’s mountains.

In fact, if you stay the night at this ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) or arrive early in the day, you may even see the apprentice chefs carving pieces of chestnut wood into the very chopsticks you’ll use later that evening to enjoy dishes like carp sashimi and salt-baked bamboo shoots.

Enjoy a Michelin star meal in Kyoto’s mountains at Miyamasou!

Michelin star sushi restaurants in Kyoto 

No matter where you go in Japan, sushi is serious business! That’s equally true in Kyoto, where it’s never been easier to catch a selection of Kyoto’s best Michelin star sushi restaurants.

11. Sushi Rakumi

Fresh salmon nigiri is being served on a dark grey serving board at Sushi Rakumi, a Michelin star sushi restaurant in Kyoto.

Sushi Rakumi is all about serving up sensational seafood, from their irresistible appetizers to their Edomae sushi, and the views from the second floor are equally special during spring with blooming cherry blossom trees.

Take a seat at the counter and prepare for the delights of their grilled saltwater eel and three premium cuts of melt-in-your-mouth tuna, all gently laid on a bed of red vinegar rice. This is Kyoto sushi like no other.

Relish the Michelin star sushi of Sushi Rakumi in Kyoto!

12. Gion Sushi Tadayasu

Octopus sushi is being served on a glass serving tray at Gion Sushi Tadayasu, a Michelin star sushi restaurant in Kyoto.

Waiting for you in the historic Gion district of Kyoto is the Michelin star sushi restaurant, Gion Sushi Tadayasu. Chef Morita Tadayasu selects the best fish from the market with his own hands, making sure only the freshest and most premium cuts of sashimi ever reach your plate.

With two different styles of vinegar rice and an ever-changing selection of sake to elevate the flavors of their sushi, this is the pinnacle of traditional Japanese sushi.

Give into your Michelin star sushi cravings at Gion Sushi Tadayasu!

Michelin star ramen restaurants in Kyoto 

After a long day of strolling around Kyoto’s traditional streets and iconic temples, nothing hits the spot quite like a hearty bowl of ramen, but what if we told you Kyoto also has some of the best Michelin star ramen restaurants?

13. Ramen Touhichi

A close-up shot of a bowl of ramen at Ramen Touhichi, a Michelin star ramen restaurant in Kyoto. Pork, egg, bamboo shoots, spring onion and noodles are soaking in broth.

About 30 minutes from some of Kyoto’s must-see spots, including Kinkaku-ji Temple and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ramen Touhichi is taking ramen to new heights. Completely free of additives and chemical seasonings, Touhichi is proud to serve organic ramen you’ll be thinking about all the way back home.

Most famous for their chicken shoyu ramen and tsukemen — along with their delightfully seasoned karaage fried chicken — this is no ordinary ramen shop. 

So, are you hungry for Michelin star ramen in Kyoto?

Slurp up organic Michelin star ramen in Kyoto at Ramen Touhichi!

Michelin star unagi eel restaurants in Kyoto 

Unagi, Japan’s much-loved freshwater eel, is a delicacy deserving of your time all over Japan, but even more so if you have time to visit one of Kyoto’s Michelin star unagi eel restaurants.

14. Sumiyaki Unafuji Daimaru Kyoto Bettei

Unagi eel being grilled over charcoal at Sumiyaki Unafuji, a Michelin star unagi restaurant in Kyoto.

Sumiyaki Unafuji Daimaru Kyoto Bettei is the product of Chef Mizuno’s life-changing decision to quit his job as an animal feed producer and become a Michelin star unagi chef. Why? He tried shirayaki (freshwater eel grilled over a charcoal flame) and it started him on a path to spread the word of this unrivaled dish. 

Opening Unafuji in 1995, the franchise has become known for its use of the ultra-fatty “blue eel” subspecies, providing a high-quality cut and flavor that normal unagi restaurants just can’t match. 

Even then, it’s not all in the ingredients, but also in the way Mizuno prepares the dishes. Firstly, a charcoal fire is used to seal in the flavor while creating a crispy crust, before coating the meat in a savory-sweet sauce that took years of research — which Mizuno won’t be sharing any time soon.

Experience Michelin star unagi eel at Sumiyaki Unafuji in Kyoto!

15. Personalized Michelin star Kyoto restaurant experiences

With our VIP Gourmet Concierge service, craft a personalized food tour through Kyoto’s best Michelin star restaurants. Our team will create a bespoke itinerary that suits your needs, budget, schedule, and dietary restrictions. 

Just let us know what you’re looking for — whether it’s a Michelin star vegetarian or vegan restaurant, a Michelin star tempura restaurant, Michelin star sushi in Kyoto or anything in-between — and we’ll get our experts on the case.

Kyoto is a city that wears its history with pride, from its traditional streets and 1600+ shrines and temples to its ongoing relationship with centuries of traditional Japanese food culture.

Even with an eye on the past, Kyoto’s superior chefs aren’t afraid to do something new with their dishes, earning them many spots in the Michelin Guide. Between geisha-spotting and temple-hopping, you’ll discover Michelin star sushi, ramen, unagi, tempura, and more in Kyoto. 

Coming to Kyoto soon? Come hungry. 

Craving more information on Kyoto’s food scene and culture? Discover our guide of the most affordable Kyoto Michelin star restaurants, hop onto one of Kyoto’s best food tours, or try your hand in the kitchen with our best Kyoto cooking classes

Or, if you’re heading to the nearby city of Osaka and still feel like wining and dining yourself, read through our guide for the best Michelin star restaurants in Osaka

Michelin star restaurants in Kyoto FAQS

What is Kyoto-style cooking? (Aka, “kyo-ryori”)

Kyoto ryori (kyoto cooking or cuisine) is exactly that — a style of cooking that originated in Kyoto. Compared to the energetic street food of Osaka and the modern, minimalist dishes of Tokyo, you can think of Kyoto cuisine as food that’s a little bit closer to authentic Japanese home cooking, focusing on local, seasonal ingredients and gentler flavors.

Why is tofu famous in Kyoto?

As a result of Kyoto’s high concentration of temples, it also has a thriving culture of vegetarian temple cuisine — also known as shojin ryori. As this cuisine is suited to the vegetarian lifestyles of Buddhist monks, it often uses tofu and seasonal vegetables as a staple of its meals.

Can I find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Kyoto?

You can! Vegetarian and vegan restaurants and dishes are easier to find in Kyoto than many cities in Japan due to the amount of vegetarian Buddhist monks in the area. As you’ll see from this article, this also includes Kyoto’s Michelin star restaurants and the restaurants you’ll find in our Kyoto Vegan Guide.

What is a Michelin Green Star?

Green Michelin Stars are relatively new and were only introduced in the 2021 Michelin Guide. These awards are given to restaurants that put serious effort into maintaining sustainable practices, such as buying — or even growing — local and seasonal ingredients and building relationships with eco-conscious suppliers, farmers, and fishermen.

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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Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
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