Daitokuji is a famous temple in Japan and accordingly is highly touristed. The idea of eating temple food in a famous temple sounds good on tourist brochures and Isuzen feels to be designed to meet this demand. Unfortunately however in an attempt to please a mainstream meat-eating crowd they use animal ingredients - ludicrous, as it is totally possible to achieve robust flavours without. Even more unfortunate is that they don't notify the wait-staff of this fact, so even upon the most vigorous enquiry the staff will swear black and blue that the food is fully vegan.
It is not.
We found this out the hard way... having tasted the tell-tale bonito flake flavour in our meal we enquired as to whether the food was really vegan and were laughed at - how funny that the gaijin thinks it tastes like real fish! Another dish came out - again, that unmistakable fishy smell. This time we insist the waitress goes to ask the chef how he managed to manifest such a remarkably fishy flavour and smell. She comes back with a grave face... turns out they put fish in it. We asked how many of the remaining dishes contained dead animals and were assured there were none. But of course several more followed and by the end of the meal we were both feeling a bit off (funny how the body reacts to things it is no longer accustomed to!).
We hope we made enough fuss of the matter to make them realize the gravity of the fraud they had committed and can only hope they don't do it again but realistically speaking we doubt they will cease using fish, more likely they will just be more careful to answer in the affirmative when inquisitive foreigners start asking whether they use fish. They certainly didn't seem to appreciate the importance of being honest up-front and had no concept of why a shojin restaurant should avoid using animal products.
With all the wonderful vegan options in Kyoto, this one doesn't deserve your time or your yen... seriously, look elsewhere.
Cons: Not vegetarian - secret fish ingredients, Dishonest (or just ill-informed?), Interiors are not well maintained either