When you think of eating croquettes you don’t usually picture yourself doing so over a wine cask with a glass of red, Camembert cheese, thinly sliced salted ham, figs and olives. At Nishitomiya croquettes have been gentrified, but thankfully not in the pejorative sense. Price-wise they’re only a little more expensive than their street brethren, but there is a little more imagination at work here in the offerings: smoked salmon and dill, dried fruit and walnut, basil, boiled pork and ginger. And plain — just so you don’t entirely lose your croquette bearings.
The restaurant/bar is cozy: two casks that double as tables and a few stools at a bar crowded with empty wine bottles. The croquettes are, as they should be, on display when you walk in, for takeout. But if you’re not in a rush, pause for lunch, which is generous and reasonable.
My companion and I went with the “open club” (a soft baguette with a croquette halved across it) and the croquette lunch plate: salad with a choice of two croquettes from the menu. She settled on basil and the smoked salmon.
The master uses his mother’s recipes, and if there’s one thing I know about food, it’s that mother knows best. The master has obviously put some thought into what pairs well with this favorite snack food, and it all works, from the French fries to the (unchilled) house red. Nishitomiya is a welcome addition to Kyoto’s traditional scene.
735-1F Uematsu-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto; 075-202-9837; www.facebook.com/nishitomiya; open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (closed Sun.); nearest stations Kawaramachi, Kiyomizu Gojo; no smoking; lunch ¥700-900; English menu; no English spoken.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.