Food of the Gods….(or maybe just my favourite izakaya)

Yes, it’s time to introduce you to my favourite izakaya in Kyoto and to a casually racist costume.

The story starts in Osaka, where we had taken our friend Tom on a sightseeing trip. I crave the modern aesthetic Osaka exudes – at least in comparison to the Kyoto – and so we had to stop by the Umeda Sky Building, designed by Hiroshi Hara.

Umeda Sky Building

I would love to teeter my along those high elevated walkways but didn’t have the time nor money. Fortunately, Hiroshi designed the Kyoto Station building as well, where I can happily wander an elevated walkway for free, giving me a great view over Kyoto.

Let’s move on from architecture and arrive at… costumes. Yes, party costumes are a BIG thing in Japan, and you’ve probably come across blog posts mocking showcasing them before. To illustrate how culturally integrated costumes are, I’ll give you an example from two weeks ago. I was casually climbing the stairs in the Kyoto City International Foundation and noticed a wedding function in the restaurant. Then, two men appeared clad in red shiny bodysuits. Why was security not seizing them and throwing them out? Well, they were the wedding entertainment. They certainly entertained me.

However, I wasn’t quite sure about the following.

Lady suit

This is a “Lady Bodysuit”. The only thing that screams “lady” at me is the word “lady” on the packaging. Weirdest costume of the day award goes to the casually raciest “I’m a foreigner” face appendage set!


Big round of applause.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the true star of this blog post.

The place: Sumika
The food:  Japanese izakaya style

Sumika counter seating

We arrived at Sumika at 10.45pm. And we were ravenous. Having been to see the Hikari Renaissance lights and realising they were unspectacular, we found ourselves in an area with nowhere to eat, except Zawatami, and I wasn’t going there again. Thus, we hopped on the train and arrived in a state of desperation. But I’d been to Sumika before and I knew the food was amazing.

Sumika is on a basement floor and has a faux cave interior which makes it intimate and shadowy. It’s relaxed and always popular (at least, when I’ve visited on weekend nights).

We flung ourselves down at the counter, grabbed the menu and devoured it with our eyes. In the next hour, we proceeded to order seven dishes each.

Now, I should say that this isn’t fine dining – izakaya food rarely is unless you go up a price-notch and downsize the menu. But Sumika does good quality food that is simply delicious. I guess this makes the first photo rather ironic, as it’s just chips. But no izakaya trip is complete without an order of “potato fry” and the beer glass in the background perfectly captures the atmosphere. All I need is a photo of our hyperactive waiter with whom Tom developed an ongoing joke: they kept bowing and saluting and grunting niceties at each other, whilst the waiter cried with laughter. It was a refreshing change from the often impeccable yet impersonal service in Japan.

Potato fry AKA chips

Below is the bacon and tofu salad and it is simply one of the most delicious salads I have ever had. The tofu melts in your mouth whilst the bacon provides a salty kick and substance. The dressing is fresh and light. The whole dish is addictive; we ordered at least two of these. I guarantee you don’t need to like tofu to order it. In fact, you don’t even need to like bacon either because it’s very easy to pick out (the veggie among us is well-practised at this).

Bacon and tofu salad

Another star dish of the evening was the fried pumpkin with cream cheese. The combination of flavours was exquisite and at only 200円 a plate, I thought this was all too good to be true.

Pumpkin and cream cheese - divine!

Below is a selection of the other dishes we enjoyed, including plenty of yakitori – grilled chicken on sticks.

Seasonal vegetable salad
Chicken and plum meatballs
"Roast beef"
Cheese and bacon mochi (rice cakes)
Don't judge me! It was for the veggie!
Yakitori - chicken and leek
Thai spring rolls

Final mentions goes to the pudding. A giant crepe filled with ice-cream and covered in chocolate sauce. Could easily feed two. But I’m greedy so it only feeds me.

Mega crepe!

Overall 5/5

Give me more. Great food. Great service. Great atmosphere. Great for small parties, great for larger parties. Great for everything. 

Food quality 4/5 – Delicious and well-thought out flavour combinations.

Value for money 4/5 – For the quality, it’s exceptional value. We paid ~3500円 each for seven dishes each and several drinks.

Atmosphere  5/5 – Intimate yet open; busy but not noisy.A place where you want to eat and drink FOREVER. Or at least to you’re on the uncomfortable side of full

Service 5/5 – A waiter that you can have a laugh with? It’s a winner!

How to find it:

Sumika is located on Kiyamachi, just south of Sanjo-dori.

Maps can be found here and here.


The evening didn’t end there. Fuelled on fine food, we did the only logical thing and sang karaoke until 2am.

Yes, let me pretend to sing by opening my mouth as wide as possible.

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

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