Ajiro

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 4 reviews )
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0754630221
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Ukyo-ku, Kyoto Teranomae-cho, 28-3, Kyoto, Japan, 616-8041

Shoujin ryori (Japanese Buddhist cuisine) and Japanese style seating. At 京都市右京区寺の前町28-3, JR Hanazono, or Kyoto bus stop before Myoshin 61,62,63. Note: kitchen may stop serving 30-60 minutes prior to closing, check ahead. Open Mon-Tue 11:00am-7:00pm, Thu-Sun 11:00am-7:00pm.

Categories: Vegan, Japanese

4 Reviews

First Review by eatinggreen

Second pilgrimage - Edit

The second pilgrimage was on a deadly blizzard day to a desolate corner of Kyoto, to a largely deserted house, which was the restaurant arm of Ajiro – a Michelin one-star caterer to the largest Zen temple in Japan, Myoshin-ji (and its subaltern temples). As it is still sometimes done in old-fashioned hotels, guests are greeted by their own names displayed prominently by the entrance – a practice obviously leftover from time before privacy was invented. Lacquered placement plates were already set on the table in lieu of the pedestal, awaiting, in a traditional but tired, fluorescent-lit tatami room. The course, also based on honzen ryori, commenced rapidly with a pickled plum water – tepid and tasteless – which failed its role as a non-alcoholic aperitif; and the sesame tofu was too dense to be considered a delicacy. A owan in Japanese cuisine is a clear soup, which tests the chef’s skill as the French consommé, regardless of whether it is Japanese kaiseki or shoji ryori. While Ajiro’s owan was doubtlessly clear, as it was clear of even dashi, it seriously tried and tested the diner’s patience and skill of chopsticks. The tofu skin ball in the clear soup was as slippery and bouncy as a rubber ball, that is, a rubber ball fallen into a bathtub full of bathwater, and just about as tasty.

Another Zen vegetarian staple, koya-dofu (a frozen and dried tofu), was chokingly sweet, which obscured the flavor of kombu and shiitake, if there were any. Its overreaching sweetness overwhelmed the hapless neighbors on the same plate – the presumably piquant rapini in mustard and sour radish pickle. The hiryouzu (literally, “the head of a flying dragon”) was a fried tofu ball, popular in oden (a Japanese pot-au-feu) due to its spongy texture for soaking up the dashi, yet the muddled head of Ajiro’s flying dragon swallowed too much salt water and seemed to have drowned in its own soup. The only interesting touch at Ajiro was the refreshing use of apple in the shiroae – a salad with pureed silken tofu – with Japanese celery and konjac jelly. However, the meal, having begun with the plum water and commenced with the customary two soups, had to end with even more water to fill the empty belly and emptier heart. The waitress ceremoniously presented a grilled rice ball in a tea pot, in lieu of tea leaves, and poured out the watery dreg and drowned any remaining hope.

All in all, there was simply too much water.

Cons: Mediocre food, Mediocre dining room, Mediocre service

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A well-deserved Michelin star - Edit



Ajiro is the longest-running vegan restaurant to keep a Michelin star in Kyoto, and after one meal it will be obvious to understand why. Authentic, utterly fresh and seasonal, and delicious shojin ryori (精進料理, "energy/effort food") is not cheap, but Ajiro is a quarter of what you would pay at the finer establishments on Koyasan (for example), and without the hassle of an overnight "temple stay" (unless of course that's your bag).

The house shows its age in places, but one could argue this is part of its charm. They probably have no time to remodel; the kitchen is too busy. Reservations, preferably weeks in advance, are usually a necessity. And do not mind the party of drunk monks upstairs.

If you like fine vegan dining, there is none better. And, yes, they do serve alcohol.

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A solid choice for shojin in Kyoto - Edit

Ajiro is one of the few temple cuisine specialists that is open late enough for a regular dinner. This, together with the fact that the food is fabulous, makes it a regular stop on our Kyoto route. Situated in what feels to be an old house, we always seem to be seated in the same room... possibly because all the other rooms are for larger parties. It's small and a bit rickety but reassuringly cozy. Service is gracious and kind. The food all tastes wonderful - their specialty is a soy milk dish that starts right from the first course and continues right until the end of the meal - as it simmers away all night you skim the layers that form on the top (in this form called 'yuba'), bathe them in one of the four condiments provided and eat..really yummy. For the same reason though, this is probably not the best place if you're not keen on soy.
The rest of the meal is often quite creative, with the occasional use of non-local ingredients as punctuation. Our fruity dessert once came out presented inside a huge bowl made of rock solid ice, which glistened glamorously as we indulged.. felt very extravagant!
This is not my no.1 favourite shojin spot in Kyoto but it's up there with the best nonetheless and is worth checking out if you have the chance.

Pros: creative, delicious, beautiful presentation

Cons: lots of soy

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Vegetarian

  Contributions +37

Ajiro - Edit

Outstanding RInzai Zen Shimei Dori Rdii food. Sit it on floor or chair must be prearrange at the time of the booking. The top corse about ¥12000 + 8% tax. The food reflects the season, 100% Vegan ,very carefully arrange and serve. well worth a visit.

Pros: food made for the five senses

Cons: expensive

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