As in every cuisine, Japanese sushi takes many forms. In Kyoto, there is Kyozushi – a sweet style of sushi eaten without soy sauce to not overpower the authentic and rich flavors. These two historic staples in Kyoto’s Kyozushi scene prove why this form of sushi stays on the top of the list for tourists and locals.

Izuju is, quite literally, a hidden gem. It is easy to walk by, so you must look for the bright red noren (or curtains) in front of the door. At this century-old sushi restaurant, locals come to dine-in or take-out when the line gets too long for the handful of tables inside. The key ingredients here are mackerel and rice soaked in vinegar to enhance the taste (and as an ancient method to keep it fresh).

This 12-guest restaurant has had many years of experience to perfect their Kyozushi – 230 years in fact. Izuu specializes in saba-zushi (cured mackerel on vinegar-flavored rice wrapped in konbu seaweed). Izuu has worked to create recipes and ingredients that have hardly changed after its opening in 1781. Their sushi is served in beautiful hand painted bowls, so the meal is visually appealing as well as tasteful. Traditionally, mackerel has a potent fishy taste, but Izuu combats this with the sweet rice and bold konbu to create a perfect harmony of flavors.