Sara, Kyoto.

May, 2016

Our first night in town, we went looking for “bib gourmand”, presented as good value in the online Michelin site. This place qualified and was within walking distance of our AirBnB, so we went for it. It was hard to find, pleasant, delicious, and expensive.

Even with the assistance of Google Maps, we ended up two blocks away from where the restaurant is actually located. The address given by Michelin is simply incorrect. A lovely young couple who ran a hardware store on the corner where the restaurant was supposed to be excitedly led us to the actual location and we were extremely grateful.

It’s a beautifully finished space, with traditional Japanese seating (on floor level, feet in a recessed space below). Nobody spoke more than a few words of English and we don’t speak Japanese but they were extremely gracious and managed to offer us several items off the a la carte menu which were pictured but somehow not in a way we could evaluate.

A little hors d’oeuvre was a tofu custard on tasty sour sauce. Sashimi was unremarkable but certainly fresh with adequate condiments. Tempura came with shellfish and vegetable components and was perfectly fried and coated with the simple batter we encountered at Ten’Ichi in Tokyo, rather than the fish and chips gloop elsewhere. A wonderful rare steak sukiyaki hot pot was next, and then a small dessert the identity of which I can’t remember. We each had a couple of draft beers.

The only unpleasant surprise was the price which, I guess because this place was mentioned in Michelin, rang in at about C$155. In retrospect we would probably pay this much for a medium-class dinner in Vancouver, but that would have included a bottle of wine at at least $60.

There are lots of high-class eateries in this lovely town and I don’t think I would return to Sara on this trip or if I were ever here again. Food 8.9, service 9.3, ambience 9.0, value 6.8, peace and quiet 8.0.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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