Kotora Teppan Restaurant
529 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0074, Japan
Some Like It Hot: Kotora's Tasty TeppanyakiWe walked through the narrow alleyways of Gion looking for a place to rest our feet during the pre-dinner hours, after visiting Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), then walking the sakura-lined Philosopher’s Path. We followed another path-- wine bottles stacked along a wall that led to a small restaurant, the Pacific Grill. We shared a bottle at the bar, but soon wished we’d made reservations as we watched the bartender/chef/owner meticulously craft each course. When we asked if he could recommend a teppan restaurant, he smiled and said, “My friend’s place,” then called to reserve us a spot at Kotora for dinner. A warm welcome awaited us, and we felt all special sliding into our reserved booth, the table not really a table but our own personal grill. Sipping refreshing yuzu lemon sours, we eyed the sizzling noodles and meats the waiter served to patrons sitting along the bar. Soon our fried egg-topped squid and pork yakisobas arrived, served not on plates, but directly onto our table skillet. Chopsticks in hand, we stared at the sizzling mounds of fried noodles, then at the mini-spatulas nearby, then at our waiter, who we asked what to do. "Just eat," he said with a shrug and a smile. And we did – thin-sliced potatoes topped with cheese and bacon, marinated mushrooms and bean sprouts, steak over sprouts and garlic sprinkled with leek -- until each of us forfeited, leaning back into our booth, rubbing our tummies, so full and satisfied.