February 1, 2014
Junya Kitagawa and Miki Suzuki
As sushi is now well known all over the world, there are many sushi bars located in many different countries, and a lot of people have become familiar with it. All over Japan you can find sushi bars serving many different kinds. “Mamezushi”, which we would like to introduce here, is one type that originated in Kyoto.
“Mamezushi” is often called “Maiko zushi”, too, because its birthplace was Gion, in Kyoto, an area which is also famous for Maiko, or apprentice Geisha. Maiko have a cute little button for a mouth, with the perfect size and shape for eating sushi. Mamezushi means small sushi bean in English, as the shape is small and spherical.
In top-class Japanese restaurants, 15 kinds of Mamezushi are presented in a box and served to customers. The kinds of mamezushi shown here, are from the upper left, squid sandwiched between sheets of kelp, mackerel oshizushi, bamboo shoot, pickled tuna, masuzushi, pouch of fried bean curd stuffed with vinegared rice, shrimp, butterbur, egg, pickled rape blossoms, kelp boiled in sweetened soy sauce, eel, Japanese ginger, with squid and pickled ginger to the lower right. When the customer first removes the lid to begin to eat, they cannot help but be impressed with the beautiful colors before them, and almost always feel the urge to take pictures of it. However they not only look elegant but also have a very refined taste. Each one tastes different to the others, and we do not have to put on any soy sauce, which makes it a little healthier for us.
There is really only one place where we can eat Mamezushi in Kyoto, and this is the top-class restaurant “Mametora”. This restaurant has a calm atmosphere and is peaceful and comfortable. The restaurant is located on Hanami-Koji Street, which is actually quite noisy, however, you do not notice that once inside the restaurant. There are 3 types of seating available here: the counter seat, where you can see the inner garden, a private room, where you can eat lunch or dinner in privacy and relaxation, and on a covered table placed over a recess in the floor of a Japanese-style room. Of course, you can enjoy a special lunch or dinner whichever seating arrangement you choose.
The restaurant has two service times, lunch time and dinner time. Lunch time is from 11:30 a.m. to 02:00 p.m. and dinner time is from 05:00 p.m. to 09:00 p.m. At lunch time two options are available, one is “Mamezushi-Zen”, which consists of five courses.The main course Mamezushi, is served 4th, and before that courses containing foods in season are offered, with the final course being a dessert. The other option is “Mamezushi-Sara Zen”, which consists of 6 courses, and offers many kinds of foods in small dishes in addition to the courses of “Mamezushi-Zen”. At dinner time there are other options. The first is ”Mamezushi-Kaiseki”, with different courses. With this you can eat Mamezushi, deep-fried food, grilled fish, meat, or chicken, and 4 courses containing foods in season. The second is “Choice Mamezushi-Kaiseki”, which offers 6 courses. In addition to the courses offered in “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” we can eat one-pot type dish cooked at the table. “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥3,800 per person, “Mamezushi0-Sara Zen ” costs ￥5,800 per person, “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥9,680 per person, and “Choice Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥13,200 per person. As the dinner courses are so expensive, we recommend you try the lunch courses. They are very reasonable and you can enjoy plenty of Mamezushi. Fundamentally, the restaurant does not close on a regular day, however, on holidays, there will surely be a lot of customers and few empty seats. Therefore, making a reservation before arrival is certainly a good idea. You can actually now make reservations either by telephone or online.
There are a lot of ways to access this restaurant because it is located in the heart of Kyoto city, and near some famous places, for example, Kiyomizu-Temple and Yasaka-Shrine.
・Kyoto City Bus: you can take the “Gion Express” bus from Kyoto Station to Gion Bus Station, and thereafter it is a 3 minutes walk to the restaurant.
・Keihan-train: if you take the train, please get off at Sanjo-Keihan Station, and thereafter take a 5 minute walk to the restaurant.
・Hankyu-train: if you take this train, please get off at Kawaramachi Station, and then take an 8 minute walk to the restaurant.
・phone number:075 532 3955
In addition to enjoying this great traditional cuisine, please visit the two places of interest mentioned before. Kiyomizu-Temple is very famous, and many travelers wish to visit it. The view from this temple is really beautiful, and will give great memories. Yasaka-Shrine is also famous, and especially for its connection to the “Gion festival”. If you have time, please visit these wonderful places, too.