While Gion in Kyoto is crowded with Japanese restaurants, one stands out.
The renowned two-star restaurant Hassun can be found a three-minute walk from Gion-shijo Station. Mamoru Kubota, said to be a master of Kyoto cuisine, opened the restaurant in 1945 and his son, Kanji Kubota, will succeed as the second-generation owner. The owner, who trained at two-star restaurant Wako in Tokyo for 8 years, continues to preserve traditional flavours without adding any unnecessary adornments to his father's teachings. Hassun emphasizes the ingredients themselves, and always works according to the seasons. As it runs contrary to traditional Kyoto cuisine, no meat or cultured ingredients are used, with fresh fish and vegetables favored and prepared in accordance to traditional Kyoto cooking techniques. As for the sourcing of seafood, the restaurant buys the best of the day from a trusted fishmonger: For example, sea bream comes from Awajishima and striped jack from Setouchi. Vegetables are carefully selected by a reliable farmer or from a vegetable merchant with which they have a long relationship.
The restaurant’s signature dish is broiled natural eel -- the marinade has a rich and deep flavor, a key component for more than 48 years and made to a recipe handed down from his father’s generation. Sawaya Matsumoto sake is preferred as it complements Hassun’s dishes, and is specifically brewed at Matsumoto-shuzo Sake Brewery.
While a few sakes are offered, in order to preserve the delicate taste of the cuisine, guests are suggested to try spring water drawn for the restaurant. The restaurant goes to Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine each day to draw spring water, a mild natural groundwater that draws out the flavor of the soft dishes. For lovers of hyperseasonal ingredients, the restaurant also offers a special course during the matsutake mushroom and crab seasons. Inside the dining room, there are 12 seats at an 8-meter long cypress counter, and 6 private rooms each with a horigotatsu (low table). To support contemporary artists, the restaurant consults with a contemporary ceramic artist -- who also happens to be a regular -- to create tableware to match each dish. The owner, who is gentle, tries to create a space where guests can relax.
Whether for dates, business occasions, or even solo visits, guests can fully enjoy the essence of Kyoto cuisine at Hassun.
* The availability of this webpage does not guarantee that the restaurant presented provides services in English, unless otherwise stated. Please be aware that English services may also depend on staff availability at the restaurant.
A 5-minute walk from Gion-shijo Station (Keihan Main Line)
A 8-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line)