Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kyoto-Style Sushi at IZUJU

There is such a thing as Kyoto-style sushi, as I came to learn in a restaurant by the name of IZUJU, which has been in business for nearly 100 years in the Gion district. I learned that due to Kyoto’s landlocked location, its residents needed to find a way to keep fish edible, so only cured fish was used.

I requested the “Deluxe Hako in Summer” for ¥1,620, or IZUJU’s “box sushi”—quite literally, as the presentation proved, for it was a square-shaped serving of square sushi pieces using omelet, prawn, red sea bream and anago, otherwise known as sea eel. Each piece of omelet or meat sat on its own mini brick of sushi rice, looking lovely, edible, artistic. (I heard Kyoto is a city that celebrates the seasons, so it came as no surprise when I heard there is a winter version of this that uses different ingredients).

All it took was one bite, and I was hooked on the aromatic, smoky and salty flavors. Even the sushi rice is also delightfully more vinegary here, and there are shiitake mushrooms mixed into it. Kinome, the mint-flavored leaves of a prickly ash tree, is used as a garnish here, and I could see mine through the translucent slices of sea bream (they were sandwiched between the fish and sushi rice).

Some of the other top dishes at IZUJU include sabazushi, or pickled mackerel on sushi rice; and sasamaki, or sea bream, kinome, and sushi rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. The menu also offers assorted selections that feed two to four people, with prices ranging from ¥2,398 to ¥5,400.

IZUJU only makes Kyoto-style sushi; Tokyo-style nigiri, or the sushi we normally see in other countries, is not available here. As is its custom, IZUJU is old-fashioned, down to its very interior decoration—the small space is designed with wooden panels and paper walls.

IZUJU
292 Gionmachi Kitagawa
Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 561 0019

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