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Culinary tradition is still alive and kicking at Izuu, whose recipes for Kyoto-style pressed sushi have remained largely unchanged since it opened in 1781. The star of the abbreviated menu dates back to ancient times, when chub mackerel from the Sea of Japan was stuffed with salt and brought overland to Kyoto via a mountainous route called the Saba Kaido (“Mackerel Road”). Inside Izuu’s small, austere dining room, patrons meditate in silence as they nibble on the legendary saba sugata-zushi: hearty rolls of lightly cured mackerel and vinegared rice wrapped in a thick layer of pickled umami-rich kombu. (Plucked from the ice-cold waters off Hokkaido, the kelp is meant to be peeled off and eaten separately.) That sublime balance of flavors extends to the tai-zushi, which comes with a lighter kombu wrapping to complement the more subtle taste of sea bream. Come early for lunch if you want to snag a table. —James Louie
+81 75 561 0751
367 Kiyomotocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan