Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Teishoku Restaurant (800 yen)

Ootoya Gohan-dokoro is conveniently located in the bustling Sanjo-Kawaramachi neighborhood and offers mainly set meals, called teishoku in Japanese, with very good cost performance for tasty and healthy meals. Ootoya’s teishoku meals are mainly rice based and are accompanied by fish, chicken or pork. Fish seems to be the most common.

Ootoya Gohan-dokoro (大戸屋 ごはん処) is national chain that has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years after reinventing itself. The president of the company decided to make a somewhat fashionable restaurant that would appeal to Japanese women (Japanese women are embarrassed to be seen in typical Mom-and-Pop type teishoku restaurant) and to make it cheap; to avoid expensive rents Ootoya avoids the first floor of a building, preferring the second. So, Ootoya is new and clean and very reasonably priced. Ootoya is already a hit with foreigners because it has expanded abroad with several dozen restaurants in South-east Asia.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya 'Teishoku' Set Meal

Cheap Eats in Kyoto Series
This is part two of a series on decent restaurants in Kyoto where a traveler on a budget can get a tasty, healthy meal with English-friendly service.

Made Fresh and Binchotan Gohan
Though Ootoya is a chain, they make all their dishes from scratch at each restaurant. Even pork cutlets for their tonkatsu is sliced at the restaurant.

Ootoya makes their rice in a very interesting way. In recent years, Japan has been somewhat crazed by wood charcoal (binchotan), not as cooking fuel, but for purifying the air and water. Cooking rice with a piece of wood charcoal in it is said to purify the water used and enrich the mineral content of the rice. I am a foodie, the creator of KyotoFoodie, and I have never cooked rice with a piece of charcoal in it. This is quite a chain restaurant!

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya 'Teishoku' Set Meal: Ankake

I had seasonal scallop rice and chicken and tofu vegetable ankake (a gooey soup thickened with starch), the ankake had lots of seasonal vegetables as well. While the portions are not huge, it is plenty filling, quality and healthy is the main point for Ootoya. At 820 yen, it ranks as a very good meal for the price.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya 'Teishoku' Set Meal: Scallop Rice with Sweet Miso

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya 'Teishoku' Set Meal: Scallop Rice with Sweet Miso

English Menu
At the entrance to Ootoya is one of those interesting Japanese showcases where the very realistic plastic recreations of the dishes on offer are presented. I usually know what I will order before I get into the restaurant.

Ootoya’s Japanese menu itself is fairly easy to understand, it is graphic with lots of big, bright color photos each dish. You can always point to what you would like.

Fortunately, Ootoya has a good English language menu with photos too.

There are lots of side dishes, especially fish, available, and a very good selection of modern Japanese-style desserts. Some main dishes are available in larger portions. If the rice dish that comes with your meal is just white rice, you can add some flavor to that. One each table you will notice a shaker full or salt and toasted black sesame seeds. Try sprinkling a bit of that on your white rice, it is very good!

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya - English Menu

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya - Japanese Menu

Interior and No Smoking
Ootoya is new and bright and clean. It has no ‘Kyoto’ atmosphere, but hey, these are cheap eats! There is ample seating, their website says that this location seats 64 people. Whenever I have been to Ootoya, I have always been seated immediately.

Happily, Ootoya is non-smoking.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya Interior

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya Interior - Seasonal Specials and Desserts Poster

Ootoya can easily be missed as it has a very narrow entrance on the street level, just look for the showcase seen in the photo below. The entrance is the second door from the corner of Kiyamachi and Sanjo streets intersection and is located between Ogawa Coffee to the west and Gosho Ame candy store to the east.

Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Gohan-dokoro Restaurant 大戸屋 ごはん処

Ootoya Entrance and Showcase

Cost Performance
I discovered this restaurant about one year ago and have been there numerous times with friends for both lunch and dinner. While this is not a gourmet experience, I have certainly never been disappointed. The menu is always different and Ootoya seems genuinely committed to fresh, healthy and tasty food at a reasonable price, so, Ootoya definitely ought to be on the list of places to secure sustenance for all budget travelers to Kyoto.

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Access and Info
location: Ootoya is located on the north side of Sanjo Street just east of the Kawaramachi and Sanjo streets intersection.

business hours: Open everyday from 10 am to 11 pm

website: www.ootoya.com (no English)
tel: 075-255-4811
address: Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Sanjo-dori Kawaramachi Higaishi-iru, Nakajima-cho 98, Gosho Ame Bldg. 2F (京都市中京区三条通河原町東入ル中島町98 御所飴ビル2F)

Map to Ootoya Gohan-dokoro (大戸屋 ごはん処)

View OpenKyoto/KyotoFoodie Map in a larger map

5 Responses to “Kyoto Best Cheap Eats: Ootoya Teishoku Restaurant (800 yen)”

  1. Mora says:

    Michael, this looks like a great spot to eat. I love the binchotan in the rice and use it at home in my gohan donabe. Can’t wait to try Ootyoya when we’re in Kyoto for 3 weeks starting November 13. I’ve already printed out several of your postings and will be sure to check your website for more good eats and places to visit when we’re there.

  2. Oliver Jones says:

    My wife and I visited on our honeymoon, this month. We also liked the food, and the cost of our meals was always pretty low (about 2,500 yen for both of us, including drinks). Amazingly, the soft drinks there are with free refills – you pay 200 yen for a glass, and you can refill as you wish.

    We liked this place so much we decided to come back the next day.

  3. Susan says:

    Came by this place on our babymoon. Very good find. Would otherwise never have even seen this place!

  4. Dean says:

    We ate here a few nights ago. Ootoya is bright, clean and modern, and the staff cheery and with functional English. We had no problem navigating the “grand menu”. I am a vegetarian (niku wa dame desu, sakana wa dame desu), and had no problem finding something delicious to eat. We are looking forward to trying more places features on this site during this stay in Kyoto.

  5. Nils von Barth says:

    Thanks for the great tip Michael!

    Agreed, this is quite a good chain. Not a huge variety or huge portions, but what they have is quite good.

    They’ve opened up a new restaurant on Nishiki, just west of the market (in the old “What’s The Beef” location), which is ground-level and easy to find.

    Here are map/store links:
    http://www.ootoya.com/000234/spdetail.asp
    http://www.ootoya.com/000333/spdetail.asp

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