Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to locate Hisago (ひさご) in Kyoto, Japan. We definitely did not expect to see such a long queue outside the restaurant, not when the restaurant opens at 11.30am for lunch. It’s off the usual track for most travelers, and pretty out of the way. That is why we didn’t think many would go to the trouble of finding this place.
Since we finished early at our previous visit at Kiyomizudera 清水寺, we decided to take a leisurely walk exploring some really old streets and houses. We reached Hisago (ひさご) at about 11am.
Somehow, you know you have stumbled upon an excellent place to eat when you see Japanese of different ages in the queue – young, families with toddlers, elderly folk, groups of teenagers, and of course, tourists from different countries. I heard Taiwanese, French, Thai, Korean, English and Chinese while I stood in queue with the rest. Our curiosity piqued with more and more joining the queue. Many times, we contemplated on abandoning the queue – especially since time during travels is so precious. We persevere, and boy, aren’t we glad we did!
The restaurant finally opened, and the 1st batch of customers went in. I kept loitering at the curtained, sliding door entrance, trying to sneak a peek into the interior of the restaurant to see how big it is. After about another 45mins, we finally entered the restaurant. It is a modest restaurant, with a seating for approximately 30 people.
I ordered the regular-sized oyako-don (親子丼) ¥1,010 (approximately S$12-14). There is a choice for the large bowl. I regretted later that I didn’t order that when I saw a father in my next table gobbling down the bowl deliciously, and especially after the initial spoonfuls.
It is unlike any oyako-don that I’ve tasted. I detected a tinge of ginger in the stock, among kelp (konbu 昆布) and bonito 鰹鱼. The flavor is sweet, wholesome and yet so unique that I can’t exactly put a finger to what else they might have added. Their recipe is of course secret.
The chicken is sweet, flavorful, soft and yet firm. The eggs are runny and heavenly soft. After the initial egg that is cooked together with stock and chicken, I believed they poured another whole egg on top of the cooked oyako-don to get this texture. While we silently enjoyed this simple and yet not-so-simple meal, we relish in this perfect example of how they focus on doing one thing and doing it so well that they created the most wonderful oyako-don. It is definitely the best oyako-don that I have ever eaten in my life. And I am sure I’m not the only one to say that. In fact, I understand from locals that it has been said that Hisago serves “Kyoto’s No. 1 Most Delicious Oyako-don”, and has a long history of 70 years.
How to get to Hisago (ひさご)
Tuesdays – Sundays 11.30am to 7.30pm
From Kyoto Station, take Bus 100. Alight at Kiyomizu-michi (清水道) or Gion (祇園), walk about 8mins. Please use the Google map link to guide you.
We actually walked from Kiyomizudera (清水寺), along Matsubara-dori (松原通) and turn right into one of the smaller lanes. When you do, look for the landmark Yasaka Tower (八坂の塔) and walk past it towards Minami-machi (南側町). Cross Minami-machi and enter into Shimogakaracho (下河原町). This gives you a chance to explore some really old streets and houses. After lunch, we walked to Gion.