Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wine and Confit Ikariya Shokudou

It's  that time of year when Kyoto-ites make the most of the summer heat and the end of the rainy season by eating in the open air, over the cool river. 

The many, many restaurants that line the western edge of the Kamogawa (Kamo river) construct platforms (yuka) that extend from their restaurants out over the flowing water with an uninterrupted view of the greenery opposite.  

Although in reality it may not be so cool and refreshing - it is the impression or the idea of something that should or could be - that makes it all worthwhile in a country where summer is so hot and humid it  is sometimes difficult to breathe. It is really more a stimulus for the mind over actual physical conditions. Which, if you are open to it, and the Japanese certainly are, can make things just a little bit more bearable. 
The thing that originally drew us to Ikariya (opened 2011) was the promise of whole chicken confit on the menu board at the restaurant's entrance... I mean, confit anything and I'll probably give it a go - but the main reason for our excitement is that it's rather difficult to find a whole chicken anywhere in Kyoto. They're not generally sold in supermarkets and food halls etc (unless it's Xmas and you order them in) as so few people have an oven big enough to cook them in  - toaster ovens are the name of the game in pocket sized Japanese kitchens. And let's face it  -whole birds aren't so easy to eat with chopsticks...

 Having said that, I've noticed a roast chicken specialty restaurant had opened recently, and the odd whole chook sneaking in to high end fresh produce stores... so it is clearly becoming more popular.
We were welcomed into 'Ikariya' by a charming waiter who spoke very good English - which was a nice surprise. Furthering our delight was his ability to converse about the wonderful range of wine they had on offer  - many of them by the glass.   
We ate a range of dishes from the eclectic but French leaning menu, all of them good and at a very reasonable price. Some of the yuka restaurants tend to make you pay a significant cover charge for the privilege of being seated outdoors. I think there may have been a small surcharge of a few hundred yen at Ikariya but it was totally worth it. The service was excellent, the food flavoursome and well handled, the wine really lovely and the setting couldn't have been more perfect for an early dinner on a summer's eve in Kyoto town. 

You will find the restaurant entrance on the east side of  Kiyamachi street - south of Shijo street. Look out for the cute Rooster and anchor emblem on the sign out the front. 
Open 5pm - 12am (another lovely surprise as late closes are rare in Kyoto town) 
075 276 2067

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