Mikoan in Kyoto

I love Kyoto. It is a totally touristy place, I know, but it is just sooo awesome. It is Japan like you know it from pictures - it just is picturesque! There are more temples and shrines then you ever wanted to see, there is Gion, with its oldfashioned wooden town houses, shops, (overpriced but nice to look at) restaurants and Maiko shooing by, some of them real ones on their way to customers, others faked (tourists that pay for getting dressed and styled like a Maiko what takes around 2-3 hours, just to go for a little walk and take some photos), but not less beautiful in my humble eyes. There are lush green mountains with bamboo groves and maple trees that change to the most intensive reds in autumn and cherry trees that are like fluffy pink clouds in spring surrounding the city.
And there is the food: the famous Kyoto ryori! Lots of natural flavours, extremely fresh and tasty vegetables, an abundance of wonderful pickles, lots o tofu in all forms and matcha wherever you look at. My culinary heaven for sure!
I have been there just a few days, but I could write a dozen articles about the food in Kyoto.. Let's start with a recommendation of a great vegetarian restaurant.
Mikoan is the name of this bar-like little restaurant that is hidden in a backyard of a narrow alley.
I saw a photo of the food served there on flickr and decided that I have to find it - and it was a very good decision!
Mikoan is strictly vegetarian (not vegan, but I guess you will find vegan dishes there too) and everything that is served there is supposed to be natural and healthy - except maybe for the array of shochu that is waiting for you at the bar...
On their menu you'll find a huge bowl of vegetable curry, of which I was told that it was very delicious. And they serve wonderful typical Japanese sets with all kinds of little dishes. That was my choice of the night! Arranged maybe not 100% strictly according to the Five Principles of buddhist vegetarian cuisine, but it was visible, tasteable, noticeable that the Five Colors: go shiki - red, yellow, green, black and white, Five tastes: go mi - salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy and the Five ways of preparing: go hou - simmering, broiling, steaming, frying and raw/pickled (if i remember correctly) were kept in mind. But to tell you the truth: I don't care much about that - it was a very diverse, healthy and most of all delicious meal!
Not only were there five dishes (plus rice), but also several different ways of preparing: my set consisted of a miso soup with vegetables (= something boiled), deep fried crumpled yuba (tofu "skin")balls (= something fried), pickles, a kind of salad with seaweed and cold tofu (= something raw), simmered greens with aburage (fried tofu) and mushrooms and some other fried veggies. My friend Angie also ordered the set and got some different dishes, so that we could share and try even more things! She had other veggies and some wonderful vegetarian gyoza...mmmmh!
It was such a satisfying dinner in a very homey atmosphere, with books, cats and all kind of knickknack around. The ladies who are running the place were friendly and so was the only other guest, a yoga-loving middle-aged lady sitting beside us and chatting with us in Japanese-English lingo.
Great food, nice place, friendly people in a beautiful city - there is nothing else to ask for! Please go there, whenever you have the chance to do so.


〒600-8032 京都市下京区寺町通四条下ル中之町570

570 Nakano-cho
Teramachi-dori, Shijo-saguru, Kyoto [click for map and description of the not-so-easy-to-find-way with photos :)

TEL/FAX 075-361-2200

Mo-Fr: 5pm - 11pm
Sa: 12 - 11pm
So: 12 - 8pm


K. Goldberg said...

My wife and I loved Miko-an and ate there twice in November 2007. I was amazed that these two women can produce so many different kinds of dishes from their tiny kitchen. We each ordered the set meal, yet totally different items came on each tray, and we got to try twice as many things. I can't wait to go back.
Photos: http://VegJapan.LocalEats.net/sections/08_Mikoan.php

coredump said...

What a location! Quite hard to find, but the food is really amazing - we took two lunch sets and there were 6 or 7 little dishes on each one's table - different for both of us. Most of the things were new for me and/or unrecognizable, but it was really really really good.

One has to be a little tolerant towards dirt, though. In fact, I never have been to a restaurant which was that dirty. Pot and pan looked like their outside was never cleaned, so looked the tiny toast oven. The racks were covered with centimeters of dirt - maybe the secret of the good taste. Plates and glasses were clean, though.

I think, for 1000 Yen, you won't get a better dinner set anywhere.