Donguri Restaurant Chain

September 1, 2019

by Saki Hirota

Donguri is a popular okonomiyaki restaurant chain in Kyoto with over 300,000 customers per year. The total number of restaurants in the chain is now nine, with the ninth store opening in 2015. Among them, the most famous store is the one at Kyoto Station Square. It is frequented by not only people from Kyoto, but also from other areas of Japan and even from abroad. Most of its seats are filled with reservations every day, so many customers are often waiting to get inside. The secret of its popularity is in its stylish appearance. It is not a typical Okonomiyaki shop. In fact, it has a menu with over 200 types of food and drink on it. Donguri is even highly ranked at a gourmet site famous in Japan, called Taberogu. Also, many entertainers and celebrities have eaten there.

More About Donguri

The very first Donguri restaurant was started in 1977 in near Fujinomori station of the Fushimi area in the south of Kyoto. This shop was built by Kouichi Kawamura. At that time, the shop was very small and personally managed, with only 24 seats for customers. The owner’s vision was to make Donguri the number one okonomiyaki store in Kyoto, as measured by sales, profit rate, number of stores, number of visitors and brand awareness. The restaurant strives to use local products for items on its menu. Donguri is committed to making sure that all of the following items in its restaurant are locally produced: flour, rice, vegetables, soy sauce, sake, tea, pickles, sauce, tofu, and beer (Suntory Premium Malts).

Currently, there are nine Donguri shops: Kyoto Station Square・ Kyoto Station Square East ・Shijo-Kawaramachi ・Shijo-Teramachi ・Shijo-Karasuma ・Shijo-Omiya ・Sanjo-Kiyamachi ・Shin-Horikawa ・Yamashina ※Fuzinomori store was closed in 2008.

Recommended Menu Items

Lotus root with shrimp

Lotus root with shrimp is very popular at Donguri. Its taste is surprising for both Japanese and foreigners. It is delicious.

Tonpei-yaki

Tonpei-yaki is the most recommended item on the menu. It is loved by many customers. It is made from pork rib, eggs, cabbage, leeks, ginger, and tonpei-sauce.

Gyoza

Chinese-style dumplings are very popular amongst customers, especially foreigners. They are delicious and very inexpensive.

Yakisoba

It is normal and standard Yakisoba. Many customers order it every day. It is made with beef, pork and squid.

Tonari-no-Micchan

This is okonomiyaki. Most okonomiyaki in Japan is made with cabbage, but this one uses kujo-leeks from Kyoto, chikuwa, and konjak. Chikuwa is like a fish sausage, while konjak is a jelly-like food made from the starch of the konjak potato. This results in a unique new taste and texture.

Donguri also has an online shop where you can buy items from the menu. Most people order it so they can prepare and eat it in the comfort of their own home. http://www.dongurionline.com/

As you can see, Donguri is very famous store in Kyoto. If you come to Kyoto, you should go to this store. Which menu are very good taste. Also, many foreigners came to 2 consecutive days to this shop.

Kyoto’s Spicy Street Gekikara

Yu Sakamoto, Kazu Shibao, Taishi Nishikawa

Funny sign

“Danger! Super Spicy!”

 

Do you like spicy foods? There are many kinds of spicy foods all over the world. And although traditional Japanese foods are not spicy, especially those in Kyoto, there are still many opportunities to eat spicy dishes because they have recently become popular in Japan. Nine out of ten people said they like spicy foods when we asked them. They said that spicy dishes are addictive.

Then we heard something interesting —there is “Gekikara Shotengai” in Muko town in Kyoto. Muko is a very small town and its residents wanted it to become more famous. However, they did not have any special attractions. Townspeople thought that if they did not have a selling point, they would create one. From this, Gekikara Shotengai was born in 2009. It has become fpopular and was even the subject of a TV show. ‘Gekikara” means “super spicy”; and “shotengai” is a shopping street.

We went there to try their famous spicy food and find out how it tasted. Was it only spicy or spicy and delicious?

 

Photo spotThe mascot character of Gekikara street named "karakkyi"

On the way there, a lady from NHK interviewed us about spicy food. According to her, Gekikara Street is not only famous among locals, but is also getting a lot of attention from foreigner visitors who come to eat spicy foods.

 

 

 

Sudden death DogFront of the "Only"At first, we went to the crepe shop named “Only” which was recommended to us by the woman from NHK. It seemed like a regular shop, but besides basic crepes, they were also a selling spicy crepe named “Sudden death Dog.” We can choose the spicy level from 1 to 5, so if you are not good at spicy foods but  want to still try this crepe, you can choose level 1. One of us did try level 5 and it literally burned his tongue. Basically, it tastes like a mixture of curry and chili sauce, and tastes very good until the spiciness kicks in.

Next, we went to a café named “Cucina.” This café also seemed normal, but they also had spicy foods on their menu. We ordered gekikara cream soda, gekikara coffee zenzai and habanero ice cream. These were really strange combinations but once we took a bite we were surprised by just how good these tasted.

 

MenuSpicy Sweets

 

For dinner, we went to the okonomiyaki restaurant named “Kyuzo“. The restaurant was so gorgeous that it belonged in Gion. We ordered Gekikara Okonomiyaki, the “spiciest okonomiyaki in the world”. We could also choose the level of hotness from 1 to 5. However, we warn you not to choose level 5. We did try level 3, but that was enough to kill us. If you are don’t have problems with spicy food and even love it, then we would recommend level three.

We ran into some foreigners and asked them some questions. They were an old couple form America. First, we asked, “How did you find out about the Gekikara Shotengai?” They said from a TV program. Next, we asked, “Do you like spicy food?” They answered in the affirmative. When we asked them their opinion of Gekikara Shotengai, they answered, “It is awesome! There have many kinds of spicy food, and the level was so high. We have never eaten such spicy food.”

Gekikara Shotengai in Muko town is a good spot to eat really spicy food. The places that sell a spicy food products are marked by a flag that is placed in front of their shops or restaurants. If you will visit Gekikara Shotengai, you can refer to a map that shows all of the shops that have spicy foods. Many of these foods were broadcast nationwide on an NHK TV program. We think Gekikara Shotengai will be become a huge tourist attraction.

Spicy restaurant flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natto

by Keita Matsui and Shiho Tanaka

Natto is a traditional Japanese fermented food. Natto-bacteria (aerobic bacillus) is added to steamed soybeans in order to make natto. It has special sticky and gooey texture and strong smell. Japanese people say that natto is very stringy and has a bad smell, but there is also amanatto (sweet natto), which is very sweet and doesn’t have a smell. Japanese people eat amanatto as a cheap sweet. Elderly people like it especially, because it is soft and delicious.

Traditional Natto

 

Health Benefits

Natto is extremely nutritious. For example, it contains a lot of vitamin K and protein. Natto is also 212 kcal per serving, so it is good for diet. There are many benefits to eating natto. Among these benefits are:

  • Skin becomes white and smooth.
  • Stomach and intestines stay healthy.
  • Increase in physical strength.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Increases endurance.
  • Lowers cholesterol.
  • Prevents hangovers.
  • Lowers risk of blood clots.
  • Increases fertility.
  • Prevents high blood pressure.
  • Lowers inflammation.
  • Increases lactic acid bacteria.
  • Guards the stomach wall.

As you can see, if you eat natto, you be a very healthy person.

How to Eat Natto

You can eat natto as it is if you want, but in Japan, people usually eat natto mixed with something else. For example, most Japanese people mix natto with chopped green onions. It is very nutritious! If you eat them together, you get more nutrition than eating just natto or green onion alone.Other ways are to eat natto mixed with kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) and mayonnaise. You can also eat natto with spinach and ume-(plam)-dried bonito fish, or you can eat it with takana. Takana is grass in rape family. In Japan, Takana is cooked usually. It is a little spicy, but delicious.

Japanese people also cook with natto. Do you know tempura (battered and deep fried seafood and vegetables)? It is usually made with shrimp, cuttlefish, pumpkin, sweet potato and chikuwa. Natto can also become Tempura, too. Natto is rare as Tempura, but it delicious.

Natto is also used to make gyoza. It is gyoza that wrapped dough rolled flour and water with meats, vegetables and spinach. Usually, gyoza is made with Chinese chives, ground meat, and so on. However, you can also add natto to make gyoza. Furthermore, we can use natto in pasta, curry, and Okonomiyaki and so on. Okonomiyaki is Japanese food. It is Okonomiyaki that baked the liquid dissolved flour into water which mixed meats, vegetables and seafood. Finally, Japanese people even use natto on toast. It is delicious. It is even more enjoyable by combining it with mayonnaise together. As you can see, because natto is used in so many different ways, it is an all-purpose food.

Natto Gyoza

 

Natto Pasta

Different Types of Natto

We usually eat soybean-Natto, but there are many types. There are,Kuromame, Kintokimame, Shirohanamame and Toramame. Among types of soybeans, there are big ones and small ones. Incidentally, we like the small ones. We think you can easily eat natto made from the small ones.

Kuromame Natto
Kuromame natto is made from black soybeans. It tastes sweeter than normal natto and it feels a little harder. If you chew it for long time, you will enjoy the taste more and more.

Kuromame

 

Kintokimame Natto
Kintoki beans are mainly used to make amanatto (sweet natto). It is is very sweet and delicious. It doesn’t have smell. Ama-natto is floured much sugar.

Kintokimame

 

Shirohanamame Natto and Toramame Natto
The Shirohana bean and Tora bean are also used to make natto. Like the Kintoki bean, they are also mainly used to make Amanatto.

Where to Buy Natto

We can buy natto in both the convenience store and supermarket. You can buy both cheap and expensive versions of natto. You can usually buy natto for about 100 yen to 300 yen. And, if you go to a Japanese-food restaurant, you can sometimes order natto. However, not all restaurants serve natto, so if you really want to eat it, you need to visit a supermarket or buy it from the internet. Indeed, there are various types of natto for sale on the internet. Let’s eat Natto!