Yakiniku (Japanese (Korean) style grilled beef) 京の焼き肉
Foodies everywhere seem to be very interested in Japanese beef, the fabled wagyu (和牛) these days. Kyoto, the ancient capital is actually not much of a ‘beef’ or ‘Japanese steakhouse’ town, but Kyoto does have several ‘old’ and famous beef establishments, for example Mishima-tei (三嶋亭).
Omigyu (近江牛) from Shiga Prefecture, just over the mountain from Kyoto, is excellent and there are also a number of restaurants in Kyoto that specialize in omigyu.
In addition to wagyu, yakiniku is very, very popular in Japan. Yakiniku is Korean style barbecue. Here we review Chiran, an elegant yakiniku restaurant located in the northern part of the city.
Chiran, just off of Kitayama Street (北山通り, Kitayama-dori), seems to be nearly unknown to people in Kyoto. It is a small, Korean-Japanese family operated restaurant that serves fine Japanese beef, Korean style, as well as an assortment of Korean homestyle cooking dishes.
Japan, the land of fish, happens to produce the best beef in the world now too, not bad considering beef is a newcomer to Japan. (Meiji Restoration, circa 1871).
Mizu Kimchi 水キムチ and Namul ナムル
mizu kimchi (水キムチ) and namul (ナムル)
Mizu kimchi (literally, ‘water kimichi’) is daikon radish seasoned with vinegar and chili. It is intended to be eaten/drunk at the beginning of the meal. The namul here (on the left) is bean sprouts flavored with sesame oil, behind that is daikon and mizuna (a popular kyoyasai green) flavored with vinegar.
Mizu Kimchi 水キムチ – detail
Drink and eat this one. Served cold, great on a summer day too! It gets you ready to eat meat!
Oxtail soup (テールスープ)
Fabulous! Pronounced, te-ru su-pu in Japanese.
Yukke (ユッケ) – raw ground beef with raw egg yolk
Yukke is another Korean dish that is now very popular with Japanese. Yukke, while a beef dish, appeals greatly to Japanese sensibilities as it requires the freshest and high quality ingredients, simply and naturally prepared.
Yukke (ユッケ), mix it up and eat it — raw!
This goes well with beer! Mighty tasty! (For serious carnivores only)
Gomanoha Shoyuzuke (ごまの葉醤油付け)
Fresh sesame leaves lightly pickled in shoyu and plenty of chili. Sesame leaves, naturally, are rather astringent and a little minty, with chili and shoyu, it creates a taste that is delicate, complex with some punch. Yum!!
Gomanoha Shoyuzuke with white rice (ごまの葉醤油付け)
Use the leaves one at a time to scoop up the rice in perfect bite sized portions.
Makkori マッコリ – Korean unfiltered rice wine
Makkori is similar to Japanese doburoku or nigorizake, but quite dry and is often a bit bubbly. Makkori is quite a bit stronger than it tastes.
Nira Chijimi (ニラ チジミ) – Garlic Chive ‘Pancake’
Chijimi is similar to Japanese okonomiyaki, and also popular in Japan, especially in Korean restaurants. Nira are garlic chives and are available in all supermarkets in Japan.
Nira Chijimi (ニラ チジミ) on the Grill
Paku puts chijimi over the coals at a yakiniku-ya for a minute or two. Interesting! Tasty!, says Peko.
Nira Chijimi (ニラ チジミ) in the Dipping Sauce
Tongue is very popular in Japan. It is usually grilled with plenty of salt, then a squeeze of lemon before being popped in the mouth.
Yakiniku on the Grill
Yakinuki on the grill
Yakiniku and dipping sauce.
Yakiniku over the Coals
Yakiniku over the Coals
Yakiniku in the Sauce
Kochijan — as it is called in Japan, (red chili paste) and garlic paste can be added to the yakiniki tare (dipping sauce) as you like. By the way, it is Peko’s opinion that Japanese garlic is pretty bad. This garlic paste, though it was surely out of a jar was not too bad.
Bibin Reimen — with a Big Blue Scissors!
Folks, you can’t go wrong with this one! Reimen literally means ‘cold noodles’ is a popular summer noodle dish in both Korea and Japan. The noodles are very firm and chewy, pleasantly rubbery. Bibin Reimen is a play on the popular Korean rice dish, bibimbap as it has the similar spice and garnish.
Chiran’s Bibin Reimen kochijan flavoring, though quite spicy is rich and mellow.
Bibin Reimen — Ready to Eat!
Notice that the noodles have been cut with the scissors. (While kitchen scissors are not uncommon in Japan, they are a Korean)
Bibin Reimen with Rice Vinegar
Bibin Reimen with Rice Vinegar
Dessert — Azuki and Mochi
This complementary dessert is a combination of crushed azuki beans and mochi. It is not at all sweet. It is a unique and light flavor, quite dry that is welcome after a heavy dinner of Japanese beef.
We discovered Chiran restaurant recently and visited several times. It is an excellent, excellent restaurant. In addition to fine Japanese beef (和牛, wagyu) grilled Korean style, Chiran offers Korean homecooking dishes, some Japanese renditions of popular Korean dishes, all with more than a hint of ‘Kyoto’ elegance, refinement and ingredients.
Sorry to our friends in Korea, but we doubt that there is Korean food this good in Korea!
No English menu
Service/Staff: Staff is friendly and seems to speak a little English.
Price: Moderately expensive. Dinner for 2 with drinks about 10,000 yen, more if ordering the deluxe quality beef.
Location and Access: Just south of Daitokuji Temple (a must see Zen temple). Bus or taxi. About 30 minutes by bicycle from the Shijo/Sanjo area of Kyoto.
By the way, Chiran is located just around the corner from Komame-ya, whose yuba-ryori we reviewed here. (That is where we heard about it.)
Near Sightseeing Spot: Daitokuji (大徳寺)
＊KyotoFoodie seems to be quite popular with vegetarians. Japan has an image of being a non-meat society, in truth however, it is nearly impossible to get a veg meal here, not to mention vegan.