My Favorite Sushi Restaurant in the Heart of Kyoto
In Kyoto, there are two Sushi restaurants which I love the most - one is Azuma Sushi and the other one is Maruman. Maruman is conveniently situated near the crossing of Shijo Street and Kawaramachi Street - one of the busiest intersections in Kyoto. It is a small Sushi restaurant with a counter seating and just a few tables, but I think the size is perfect given the fact there is only one chef. The restaurant can be filled with guests pretty quickly especially early in the evening and reservations are always recommended if you want to take the counter seating.
Small Space Operated by a Nice Couple
Sushi's prepared by the Chef are superb and the service always goes beyond expectations. The restaurant is operated by a very nice couple (chef = husband, server = wife). Both of them are polite and super friendly not only to local regulars but to out-of-towners and even visitors from abroad. From time to time, I see more than half of the space is filled with visitors from various countries. Good news for those who have not tried Sushi dinner at Maruman yet is that their prices (foods/beverages) are all reasonable with no hidden charges, meaning you will be only charged for what you eat at the prices shown in the menu. Again, there is only one chef in the kitchen (= Sushi bar), so the serving can be slower when the restaurant is packed.
Some of the Sushi's are pricey, such as "Uni" (Sea Urchin) from Hokkaido for Yen 500 per piece, "Toro" (Fatty Tuna - Blue Fin) for Yen 600+ per piece. So, if you order anything as much as you want, you will end up with a surprise bill. Take a look at the menu carefully before ordering so you won't make the same mistake I always do. If your budget is tight, I would recommend ordering a Sushi set which comes with assorted Sushi's of the day (Nigiri & Rolls) and a cup of Miso Soup. Delux Sushi set is Yen 2,700 and regular Sushi set is Yen 1,900 - plus tax - very affordable. If you still feel you want to eat more after finishing Sushi set or if there are specific Sushi's that you really want to try, you can order just one piece each instead of two. That way, you can enjoy more varieties of Sushi while keeping your budget under control. Here are the prices of some popular Sushi's; Tai (Sea Bream): Yen 250 per piece Akagai (Arc Shell Clam): Yen 500 per piece Ika (Squid): Yen 200 per piece Maguro (Regular Tuna): Yen 300 per piece Ebi (Prawn): Yen 200 per piece Anago (Sea Eel): Yen 300 per piece Tekka (Regular Tuna Roll): Yen 600 per roll Toro Tekka (Fatty Tuna Roll): Yen1,200 per roll Kappa (Cucumber Roll): Yen 300 per roll
They also offer some appetizers which are as good as their Sushi's. What I like the most is "Tai Arani" (Simmered Head of Sea Bream). There are only two each day - they cut the head of Sea Bream from the center into two and simmer them in soy broth with Tofu and Burdock Roots. Really tasty - Yen 1,500. Sashimi appetizers are good, too. Their Aji (Horse Mackerel) is always really fresh and the meat is plump - Yen 1,000. There are several different Sashimi appetizers, so try one or two of them if you want to try fresh Sashimi before Sushi.
There are several shortcomings for some guests. First, the restaurant does not accept credit card - cash only. So, make sure you have enough cash with you. Second, the restaurant is NOT "Non-Smoking". Very seldom, but I have encountered guests who were smoking there. In case you see a smoker when you are in the restaurant, you can politely ask them to not smoke until you leave. I am hoping the restaurant will completely ban smoking in the space in near future. Lastly, their restroom is with squat toilet (Japanese style). For Japanese guests, that is just fine, but it could be a challenge for tourists from aboard. But I still recommend this small Sushi restaurant to everyone. Decor is not gorgeous nor stylish at all, but the ambiance is warm and welcoming. You can feel like you are dining in a small and rustic old Sushi bar.