Kyoto is a bit stuffy for my taste. Literally, it gets SO HOT in the summer, I can't deal. Plus, it's a bit dainty compared to the gruff streets of Tokyo and Osaka, which is more my style. Kyoto is where to go if you want a slice of old world Japan – with all its temples and gorgeous wagashi (Japanese sweets) and proper ladies walking around in kimonos.
But there's gotta be more to Kyoto than that, right? We had a wonderful 24 hours in the city a few years ago, where our friends took us out to parts of Kyoto that we would never have known. There is one eatery that I can't wait to go back to called STAND.
First of all, how great is their logo?!
STAND is located in a popular shopping arcade in Kyoto. It is a strictly casual affair. Don't even bother making a reservation.
What?! Don't make a reservation to eat in Kyoto?!?
This is a super rare – in Kyoto, you feel really pressured to have a very strict and regulated schedule of temples tours, complete with a fancy meal at the end of the night. Dudes, STAND will do just fine.
There is no menu here, just placards hanging from the walls. Yes, this means you have to read Japanese. Or, just ask for one of each!
No, that's not fair. But if you can pretend that you are in a Seijun Suzuki film and ask yourself, "What would Ace no Joe eat right now, cigarette dangling from his mouth?" you may find the answer deep within yourself.
Let me make a few suggestions that got me really excited here: hiyayakko (cold tofu), potato salad, hiyashi tomato (cold tomato), morokyu (cucumber with miso for dipping), green togarashi peppers, fried ham, cheese, fried chikuwa (fish cakes)... you know, all the izakaya greatest hits!
Wait, there's more!
Get the renkon-ten (lotus root tempura) and sudako (vinegar-marinated octopus).
Yes, STAND specializes in all the bar snacks that pairs so perfectly well with beer, sake, shochu, and highballs. It is the quintessential izakaya!
Everyone is seated at communal tables and copies what their neighbors order. Yes, that is me smoking a cigarette below!
Just kidding. Kanpai!
STAND is well known for the bizarre bill they hand out at the end of your meal:
They basically take a red crayon and scrawl all over everything, then give you a total at the bottom of it all. Kinda looks like a bingo card or a complicated dim sum bill. What does it all mean????
Only the maestro has all the answers...
Don't miss STAND the next time you are in Kyoto to get a real taste of how the locals spend their evenings.
Shijyonoboru Nakanomachi Nakagyoku