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Kiharu Kyoto  Japan
There’s something restorative about the glowing paper lantern and purple-and-white noren hanging in front of the sliding door of this homey izakaya in Kyoto’s central Nakagyo’s ward. Inside, all hunches are verified by the warm Kiharu-san himself, who grins mischievously behind the L-shaped, 10-seat counter and bar stocked with a rainbow of elegant sake and shochu bottles. But the real restoration starts with the soul-satisfying food, specializing in perfectly charcoal-grilled seasonal vegetables such as roasted palms in their husk, onions in their skin, and golden bowls of snow peas bathing in a pool of golden chicken fat. Slices of roasted salmon served with Matsuyama citrus fruits, fragrant bowls of rice porridge spiked with conger eel, and platters of paper-thin chicken doused in green onions are hearty works of edible art.