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Menami, Kyoto

Kiyamachi, Sanjo-agaru
Japan 604-8004
Tel: 81 75 231 1095's insider take:

When you tire of ritualized kaiseki dinners, and of watching your mouth and manners in perplexing Japanese restaurants, this is the place to kick back and down a few beers or sakes. Menami's "home-style" obanzai cooking is rooted firmly in Japan, but the ever-morphing menu comfortably country-hops (try the Vietnamese-style spring rolls stuffed with pork, bamboo shoots and onions, or sansho-spiced lamb chops that would be at home in Greece). Many of the offerings are displayed on the countertop, which makes ordering easy. Make a reservation, for Menami has only a tiny counter, a few tables on a raised tatami platform, and a cozy booth near the door. If you like the ceramics on which meals are served, ask about Menami's sister pottery shop.

Open Mondays through Saturdays for dinner only.

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