Daitokuji Ikyu

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 2 reviews )
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075-4930019
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20 Daitokuji Mae, Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Daitokyu offers vegan Shojin Ryori. Address in Japanese: 京都府京都市北区紫野大徳寺下門前町20. Note: kitchen may stop serving 30-60 minutes prior to closing, check ahead. Open Mon-Sun 12:00pm-6:00pm. Lunchbox 12.00-15.00.

Categories: Vegan, Japanese

2 Reviews

First Review by eatinggreen

Third time is the charm? - Edit

The third and final stop for this neophyte Zen vegetarian on a pilgrimage to discover Japanese vegetarian cuisine, or to uncover the original Japanese cuisine, was Daitokuji Ikkyu. Located next to yet another famous temple, its namesake, Daitoku-ji, it is known today more as the maker of the black and dry fermented soy beans called Daitokuji natto,[22] rather than a 500-year old caterer of shojin ryori. Perhaps that is why Ikkyu is, blessedly, Michelin-free. Ikkyu also served an adopted honzen ryori of two soups and five dishes, like the other two restaurants. As was typical of such style, rice and soup were served on the first tray, along with other dishes so that the diner could pair the salty dishes with rice, instead of sake, which was only appropriate in a temple setting. Instead of plain rice, however, Ikkyu cooked the rice with nutritious mukago (baby yams), seasoned lightly so that the subtle aroma of the earthy mukago could be savored along with its soft baby skin. The white miso soup was creamy and rich as a potage: in which, pieces of gluten, daikon radish and Japanese taro were cut into a circle, a square and a hexagon to signify Buddhist principles. The flat plate was composed in accordance with the shojin ryori principle of five colors: the white and the pink of the pickled radish, the orange of the confit of kumquat, the black of stewed mushroom and Daitokuji fu (a grilled gluten) and the green of the sprinkled seaweed. Not only visually pleasing, before the discovery of the vitamins and minerals, counting the colors provided an easy guidance for nutrition. Then, as if to wake up the diners from the lethargic slumber of the cold winter, the rapini in yellow mustard stimulated the tongue with a whirlwind of flavors – sweet, tangy, bitter and spicy all at once. It was sweet and yet not saccharine, spicy without being overwhelming, and the controlled use of vinegar augmented each flavor to the maximum. It was a grand homage to gomi – the principle of five flavors: the sweet, the salty, the sour, the spicy and the bitter.

Having elevated the palate to a new Zen height, the next several dishes sadly, forced it back to earth. The signature burdock raft was batter-fried burdock sticks whose originality was in the washing off of the oil after frying. Less oily, certainly, but the washing turned the fried burdocks sticks into limp and lumpy logs....

Pros: Nice dining room, Traditional cooking

Cons: Mediocre food

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Delightful but overpriced - Edit

We've eaten here twice, maybe 3 times and it is always pleasant. The presentation and flavours are lovely and the setting is too - super traditional tatami mat rooms with tiny traditional chairs that for some reason always make me feel like I've been reborn as Japanese royalty. They have a splendid zen garden outside but every time we go there the doors are closed, to keep out either the heat, the cold or the mosquitoes... so you'll see the garden on the way in and out but will eat your meal looking at the wall and the sparsely furnished zen minimalist room.

If you haven't been to any other shojin eateries I wouldn't recommend this as your first ever experience, if only because it's severely overpriced and you can get more for less elsewhere. I also don't really like the way they objectify foreigners here - they're never rude (quite the contrary, it's more an issue of over-politeness), but they just refuse to speak to me as though I'm an actual person despite the fact that I actually speak native level Japanese if only given a chance to open my mouth. Rant over though, that's probably just a cultural thing and the way they treat us is no doubt a reflection of their experiences with foreigners to date (or perhaps the lack of), plus a desire to please.

They are famous here for a particular type of fermented soybean (natto). Surprisingly it doesn't feature prominently in their meals, but apparently it is used in their cooking. Our theory is that their natto fame may be behind the cheeky prices. If you'd like to take your own slice of zen away with you, the natto beans are available for sale in the street-side store outside. We're always feeling decidedly broke after dishing out for our meal, so are yet to venture that far. Next time, perhaps.

Pros: authentic, gorgeous garden outside

Cons: priced like poison for what you get, weird manner towards foreigners, view is always obscured

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