• Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 4 reviews )

inside Daitokuji-cho, Murasakino, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan,

Serves meat, vegan options available. Shojin Ryori. Food is supposed to be all vegan but reported uses fish for broth (Sept 2014). One of 3 locations; the other locations do offer fish/seafood. Open Mon-Sun 11:00am-4:00pm.

Category: Japanese, Non-veg

Reviews (4)

First Review by hawkjo

Fake shojin ryori for a domestic tourist audience - Edit

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.

Pros: Temple garden setting, Comparatively cheap

Cons: Not vegetarian - secret fish ingredients, Dishonest (or just ill-informed?), Interiors are not well maintained either

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Wonderful food in wonderful setting - Edit

It is not easy to find inside the temple grounds of dai toku ji. But you can ask the people at the entrance to draw you a map. The restaurant is beautiful in Japanese traditional style. The food was wonderfully prepared and presented and really tasty. You get a lot of small dishes. It is not a cheap restaurant, but it is really worth it because you don't only get really great shojin ryori, you can enjoy it in a beautiful traditional environment.

Pros: Lovely environment, Great variety, great service

Cons: not cheap

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Very Memorable and Impressive Food - Edit

My vegan partner (who has been a vegan for 10 yrs) and I had the best temple food ever here. Shojin Ryori (Japanese temple food) might be the only reason why I might come back to Japan again. The food in Izusen was beyond food that goes into the stomach. I can feel the spirit behind it by how they chose their water and ingredients. I'm a tea maniac and can tell that even though their tea was not so good, their water was soooo alive! They told us that they collected dewdrops from the mountain that they're in to make tea. Wow, the highest form of making tea, very impressive attitude.

Anyways, my partner chose the 4000-ish yen meal that included his favorite dish (ume/plum tempura) that my cheapest meal didn't have. My favorite dishes were their spinach shiraae (mayo-like tofu), yuba maki, and their tofu in general. The overall experience was a flow of goodies.
Updated from previous review on Sunday August 11, 2013

Updated from previous review on Sunday August 11, 2013

Pros: awesome food, traditional vibe and location, great water!

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Delightful, but Subtle - Edit

Izusen is a shojin ryori restaurant within Daitokuji temple complex. The food was delicious, but very subtle. It's also a tour de force of vegetarian variety in Japan. I got the smallest dinner set (priced at Y3150) and received 12 or 13 dishes, each of which had an average of 2-3 different items on it. Items are mostly bite-sized, but with so many items my girlfriend was very full and I was satisfied. If you are unfamiliar with shojin ryori, research the story of goma dofu; it is delicious at Izusen. The restaurant itself was nothing particularly beautiful, but the food was worth it, even at $30 per person. Every vegetarian tourist should get shojin ryori sometime while in Japan, and read about its history, as well.

Pros: Delicious, Lots of variety, Good goma dofu

Cons: Far from subway, Expensive, Bland restaurant decor

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