Yasumasu Ikeda, chef and owner of Kyokabutoya, moved to the Kansai region from Hokkaido more than 15 years ago. After almost a decade of cutting his teeth in the kitchens of Osaka and Kyoto, he opened a Japanese restaurant around 2010. Kyokabutoya is housed in a machiya (traditional wooden townhouse), which is located a stone’s throw from a buzzing centuries-old food market in the center of Kyoto.

One thing that quickly becomes apparent while dining at Kyokabutoya is the informal atmosphere — and that’s not to slight the lunch I had there. Kyokabutoya matches other Kyoto establishments in taste, quality, variety (and high prices), but chef Ikeda has made the space feel more like a cozy bar than a stiff haute cuisine restaurant.

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