After exploring the fascinating cobble-stoned narrow streets in East Kyoto for a few hours we realised it was quite late and that we hadn’t had dinner.
We turned a corner, passed a few hostess bars, spotted a geisha walking across the road and saw some bright lights up ahead with a queue forming. It looked like the classic late-night fast food place you’d go to after (quite) a few drinks.
There was just one very busy chef making pancake / omelette things on a flat grill out the front and they smelt incredibly good. Without even knowing what it was we gestured to the waitress that we’d like to sit.
[Hard at work, he turned them out perfectly every time!]
We were seated at a corner table and within a few seconds a woman came over with a massive novelty-size menu. It was the size of a large poster folded in half and it had just one picture on it: Issen Yoshoku.
The woman pointed at the picture and nodded at us. We nodded back and held up two fingers. We also asked her for two beers and she scuttled off.
We were very amused by all this. Why have a menu at all if you only serve one thing? This restaurateur obviously has a good sense of humour, we thought!
To clarify, Issen Yoshoku is both the name of the restaurant, and the name of the only dish it serves. It’s apparently the ‘original Western food’ in Japan, created during the early 1900s and sold by street vendors for 1 US cent wrapped in newspaper. (Source: Kyoto Foodie)
[Mmm, gooey savoury goodness inside]
They arrived quickly and at a tiny 630 yen were extraordinarily good value.
The pancake part was made with wheat flour and filled with a myriad of wonderful flavours then topped with a thick brown sweet/salty sauce and strips of nori (dried seaweed).
I’m unsure of all the filling ingredients but could make out: egg, sweetcorn, dried shrimp, spring onions (scallions), pork strips (?) and cloud ear fungus diced really small (I think!).
The egg was still runny and all the flavours complemented each other beautifully; a deeply savoury and satisfying dish.
[Issen Yoshoku shopfront - see the geisha mannequin on the right?]
This restaurant is actually quite famous for having lots of Geisha mannequins seated throughout. Although there was just one out the front when we went there – can you see her in the picture above?
Apparently it’s to fool drunk men into thinking there’s some attractive single ladies to chat to while they’re chowing down on their late night snack. I wonder if it works? You never know.
A massive thank you to Pako and Peko from Kyoto Foodie who I contacted for the name of the restaurant. I sent them my photos and they identified it immediately. Click here to read their super detailed review of Issen Yoshoku.