Featured Restaurant: Uosaburō

2013.07.31 uosaburoChef Shigeo Araki is the 9th generation owner of Uosaburō, a Kyōkaiseki restaurant founded in 1764, which is located in Fushimi in the south of Kyoto. Uosaburō has a one-star rating with Michelin but is also highly regarded within the Kyoryori establishment. This is a translation from the restaurant’s website, describing the history and traditions of the restaurant.

“Originally from Sanuki (in present day Kagawa Prefecture), the original founder, Saburō Bei, established Uosaburō in 1764.

As the southern gateway to Kyoto, Fushimi was an important junction for river and road transportation of Setouchi fish and Kyoto vegetables, as well as the sake breweries that depended on the abundant local spring water. Uosaburō started out by providing home catering to the local daimyo and wealthy families in their mansions.

During the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, which occurred in 1868 between pro-Imperial and Tokugawa shogunate forces, it is said that on the Kyomachi Road right in front of Uosaburō, the Shinsengumi forces attacked by sword the Satsuma soldiers, who were armed with guns. You can still see the bullet holes from that battle on the lattice on the front of the restaurant.

Bullet marks in the lattice from the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868

Bullet marks in the lattice from the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868

The founder, Saburo Bei, started out by specialising in the preparation of high class fish cuisine and over the years the restaurant has gained a reputation as a Kyoryori restaurant that utilises the superb local spring water, as well as being able to access the freshest fish and vegetables that come through Fushimi, which is a major hub of river and road transport.

2013.07.31 uosaburo2Proud of its Fushimi historical heritage of having catered for the Imperial troops during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, Uosaburō, now in its 9th generation of successive family chefs, continues to uphold it culinary traditions and craftsmanship.

It is the Uosaburō tradition to use only the choicest parts of the sea bream that we bring back every day from the Chuō or Akashi fish markets. Also, from the preparation of the tea to the dashi stock that forms the basis of all the meals, we only use the natural spring water from the Uosaburō well, which draws from the famous Fushimi spring called Gokōsui (officially designated by the Japanese Government as one of Japan’s most significant natural water sources). Furthermore, the local sake that is made with this same water goes together perfectly with the seasonal Kyoto vegetables, creating a cuisine that is thoroughly steeped in these traditions.”

3-187 Kyomachi, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075-601-0061
Lunch: 11:30 -14:00; ¥3,150-26,250 (plus 15% service charge)
Dinner: 17:00-22:00; ¥10,500-26,250 (plus 15% service charge)

Gokosui spring at Gokonomiya Shrine in Fushimi

Gokosui spring at Gokonomiya Shrine in Fushimi

The Gokōsui spring is officially designated by the Japanese Government as one of the most important water sources Japan. It is also the principal reason why there are many sake breweries clustered in the Fushimi area. Apparently, the Gokōsui water contains a lower mineral content than other harsher mineral-filled waters, which gives the sake made with Gokōsui a much gentler and elegant flavor, and therefore is known as Onnazake or “feminine sake”. If you want to fill your water bottle with this pure spring water, you can do so at any time at the Gokōnomiya Shrine in Fushimi.

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