584 Takakura Tooru Street, Kyoto
Visited 3rd February 2009
We stumbled across Yoshinori Saeki while exploring Kyoto. We decided to take a look. They were full. We did the only reasonable thing. We made a booking. We came back the following evening. Yakitori restaurants are normally a raucous occasion of eating grilled stuff on sticks and sculling beer, but the first thing you notice about Yoshinori Saeki is that it's oozing refined charm. The restaurant is built in a 100 year old house, the staff are traditionally dressed the there's refrained elegance in the air. We were seated at the bar and had perfect view of the chefs cooking tasty treats to order. Glancing at their website Yoshinori Saeki proclaims the merits of suppliers; a typically Japanese commitment to local quality ingredients.
OK, OK the menu was all about grilled stuff on sticks, but I was impressed that there were almost as many vegetable based options as meat ones. The selection we ordered included tender pork belly, chicken fillet with wasabi, beef with leek, delicious minced pork and sweet baby onions on skewers. We also had some delicious sticky chicken wings coated in sesame seeds and fluffy baked Hokkaido potatoes that were so good we ordered a second serve. The food was, well, excellent. The meat dishes were tender and flavoursome, the sauces were delicate and presentation was perfect. Oh yeah we drank beer.
I don't think we had any bad meals in Japan, but some were simply spectacular and Yoshinori Saeki fits the category. What we had was a dining experience where excellent food was perfectly matched by the seating and service. Our meal came to ¥7,250 and even though this included a few beers it wasn't cheap, but it was certainly worth it. At Yoshinori Saeki we drank beer and ate grilled meat on a stick, yet came out feeling calm and meditative - that place is good for the soul!
Visit restaurant website.