Wagokoro Izumi is a two-star Japanese restaurant located in the downtown area of Kyoto near Shijo Subway Station, run by chef Masaki Izumi, who has inherited the spirit of his master, to offer dishes filled with the Japanese spirit of Wa in a place tied to the past.
Born in Mie, Izumi trained first at the Japanese restaurant Kase in Nagoya and then at a hotel in Tokyo. After that, he worked at the renowned restaurant Sakurada in Kyoto, where he learned the techniques and spirit of Kyoto’s exquisite cuisine, and then opened his own restaurant in 2006. Later, in 2016, he opened Wagokoro Izumi at the site of Sakurada, which had been closed while being missed by fans. The reputation of his Japanese culinary skills spread by word of mouth, allowing Wagokoro Izumi to quickly expand its clientele and win two stars.
His dishes are ordinary but filled with the Japanese spirit of Wa (wagokoro) and packed with seasonal flavors that excite the senses. “I have inherited the spirit of my master, so I will never cut corners,” he says. He visits and consults with producers to purchase ingredients that pair harmoniously together and meet his standards. Needless to say, particular attention is paid to the stock as it is the key to delicious meals – at Wagokoro Izumi it is made with Rishiri kelp purchased exclusively from Kabuka and Funadomari in Rebun Island and precious fermented dried bonito sourced from a producer in Makurazaki that the chef visits to observe the production process. He explains this process to diners while demonstrating how to extract the rich umami flavor of the bonito attributed to that elaborate process in his dishes.
The restaurant’s signature dish is Egg Castilla, which is served on a traditional wooden platter with 24-cm sides, the egg and ground fish meat slowly cooked over low heat. The chef also proudly shows off a plate of Sweetfish Grilled with Salt, noting that it “tastes totally different from the one offered by other restaurants.” Grilled using a unique and secret method of his own invention (grilled on upright skewers like it is grilled on a hearth), the fish is so delicious as to be irresistible to the restaurant’s regulars.
A sublime selection of Japanese sake is able to meet almost any request. In particular, the original Japanese sake brewed every season by Joyo Shuzo in Kyoto pairs extremely well with the aforementioned sweetfish.
The Kyomachiya townhouse-style exterior offers atmosphere, while the dining room offers a serene counter; meanwhile, the Japanese-style private rooms, either with a dining table or a low horigotatsu table (table over a hole in the floor), are adorned with hanging scroll paintings, flower arrangements, and tableware crafted by artists, ranging from living national treasures to contemporary artists, to express the Japanese spirit of Wa in a fashion that changes from season to season.
Guests are invited to enjoy the essence of Japanese cuisine at Wagokoro Izumi, either for business meetings with clients or intimate meals with family, partner, or friends.
* 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.
Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line and Karasuma Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line