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“Not quite what we expected” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Kassai

Kassai
Ranked #3,322 of 12,164 Restaurants in Kyoto
Price range: $9 - $27
Cuisines: Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Neighborhood: Shimogyo-ku
paris
Level Contributor
246 reviews
76 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 612 helpful votes
“Not quite what we expected”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 16, 2013

The place was supposed to be a must try. We showed up in the evening and couldn't get a table outside on the terrace when two of them were visibly free and ... given to the clients who came RIGHT AFTER US. The fact that they were Japanese might be of significance. The waiter turned out to be very helpful in the presentation of the menu (considering that there is no English translation), but we had to wait for about 45 minutes for a tempura plate that takes five minutes to prepare. He was fair enough to admit that he had simply forgotten about us. When the bill came, we realized afterwards (being naive enough to trust them) that they had stretched the check by 10 euros. All in all, we were not exactly impressed by what might be considered as an overrated place. But that's the judgment of two travelers from Paris...

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank dtshura
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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11 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    6
    3
    1
    1
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Miami Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“As Good as Advertised”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2013 via mobile

We had read the reviews on trip advisor and were really excited about this restaurant. We made a reservation for our last night in Japan, and the restaurant did not disappoint.

The staff was very friendly and our server's English was pretty good. We sat at the bar, because it was very balmy in July during our visit. We each had the 5000 yen set, which was 8 or 9 courses. Just about everything was excellent. There was one dish (a cold taro soup) that I didn't care for but it was a high quality dish all the same. Every dish was made with the freshest ingredients and with great care. One of the courses was a beautiful sashimi and the restaurant served a really nice sea salt for serving with the fish. I've eaten a ton of sushi in my life but I never had it with simply salt. It was really beautiful.

I highly recommend Kassai, it was the culinary highlight of my time in Kyoto, and probably the best meal I had in Japan.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Tony A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
21 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Our favorite night in Kyoto”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2013

This review is long, long overdue. (Sorry, Kassai!) We visited Kassai during our 5-night stay in Kyoto during April 2012. We discovered Kassai after unsuccessfully trying to get a table at a nearby restaurant that we read about - we did not yet know that this would be a happy turn of events. When we walked by Kassai, it somehow looked appealing. (As with many Kyoto restaurants, there is a long path to the entrance from the road, so you can't exactly tell what you'll find inside.)

Inside, there were relatively few seats and most of them were at an L-shaped counter (kappo ryori style) but there also were three tables along the side of the dinning room. (As a side note, it's our understanding that you can also eat outdoors adjacent to the river, but it was still a little chilly when we were in Kyoto.) So we sat at the last two counter seats, near the chef.

The clientele was only Japanese - in fact, it seemed that everyone in the room stopped and turned their heads when we walked in the dinning room, then they proceeded to glance over at us for most of the night! :) So given the apparent novelty of non-Japanese visitors, it was no surprise that there was no English menu (i.e., only kanji). We were unsure of the food we'd be served and the cost. Between the little Japanese we spoke, the little English spoken by the chef, and a few very friendly customers who helped translate for us, we worked with the chef to find an affordable option. (After consulting our notes, the higher-end tasting menu plus a fair amount of sake was just over 5,000 JPY per person, but we could have selected a less substantial meal option for around 3,000 JPY per person.)

What came next was delicious and artful food prepared just a few feet in front of us, friendly and prompt service, and neighboring dinners who were warm and engaging. We befriended three nearby dinners and they swore that Kassai was the best restaurant in the city given the traditional dishes and delicious/beautiful food. I wish we would have taken photos of a few dishes because the main photo posted does not seem like a good representation.

The delicious food, intimate setting, and fair price are reasons enough to visit. But the added benefit was the warmness with which we were treated throughout the night. Our young chef was kind and humorous (and great with a knife!), and so too was the owner of the restaurant who seemed especially touched that we were enjoying ourselves.

Writing this review more than a year after our visit, this dinner still ranks among the best we've had. In line with another reviewer, we also raved about this dinner for weeks and it was among our highlights of a 15-day trip to Japan.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank DLM2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
34 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Relaxed and delightful evening”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 17, 2013

We arranged dinner here in advance using the concierge service at American Express. We were asked to choose the menu in advance which we were very happy to do. I guess they were worried that they might have no english speaking staff that evening. We had no trouble finding the restaurant and we sat at the counter with about 6 other japanese people. I speak some Japanese so once that was established the food started to flow and it was great. We had the chef's choice menu which was a series of wonderful dishes only one of which we could not identify at the time; it was all delicious. As the restaurant emptied the staff became more willing to try their English which was good and coincided with my willingness to speak japanese decrease as my alcohol levels went up. Would definitely recommend.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank kcnz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great! Must try if you're in Kyoto”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2010

We found this restaurant completely randomly while walking along the river and eventhough it takes a bit of courage to just open the door since everything is in Japanese, we had absolutely no regrets. The menus are only in Japanese, but on of their waitresses spoke fluent english and took us through the different menus they offer ranging from from 5000 to 9500JPY. You get between 12 and 14 courses of fantastic food!
If it's not raining you can sit outside on the terrace above the river, which adds an extra to the whole dinner. You'll be charge 10% of your bill for that, but it's completely worth it.

    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Geekmiki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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