Beautifully designed Japanese Restaurant in Gion, Kyoto

“Gion Suetomo” is located near the streets of Yasaka and Gion, and Japanese historical architectural sites such as Kenninji, which are some of the best places to visit in Kyoto. The restaurant’s structure was apparently designed by the owner/head chef Mr. Suetomo himself in order to convey the beauty of Japanese architecture. At the counter, guests can enjoy their meal while watching masterful chef at work display his skills. For guests seated in the private room, they can enjoy meal with their family and friends and relax in a private environment. Unfortunately, because the counter seating was fully booked by another party, the counter was not available for us when we visited.  Nonetheless, we ended up enjoying our visit and time in the private room, which was satisfying in its own way. The meal prepared by Mr. Suetomo who is a renowned chef in Kyoto, is a meal that can be enjoyed both ways. 

The Japanese architecture was designed by Mr. Suetomo himself.

The lights gently illuminate the streets of Yasaka avenue.

Once we entered the restaurant, we felt as if we were transported to the good old days in Japan, and we could just about smell and taste its atmosphere.

First came the tea. When the restaurant was made, people found a freshwater spring from the ground. This fresh clean  water from this spring has since been cherished and used in the restaurant’s cuisine, and in the drinks which make it particularly special. Water is treasured in Japan as being particularly important to not only creating delicious food but for producing delicious drinks such as sake and tea as well. 

Spanish Mackerel with spring vegetables

Flavored with lime

On this visit, our reservation was for a private room on the second floor.

As we were finishing a plate, one of the chefs came and started preparing something.

Some Japanese sake was poured for us, and then a beautifully colored “hassun” or the seasonal dish that sets the theme for the course was served.  

Firefly Squid Terrine

Sweet Shrimp

Mochi (Rice cake) 

Boar meat

Small snapper


While we were enjoying the seasonal dish “hassun”, one of the chefs came again and started preparing something.


The ingredient being prepared was a rare type of fish indigenous to lake Biwa in Japan called “Moroko”.  We were amazed thinking of the skill and connections which Mr. Suetomo must have to be able to procure this kind of rare ingredient.

Next on the charcoal grill…

Fresh pieces of bamboo shoots. They had an excellent crunchy texture, and a sweet flavor. These bamboo shoots are also a famous ingredient from Nagaokakyo, Kyoto.

At restaurants, normally you would have to sit at the counter seats to enjoy watching the skillful chefs at work, but at Suetomo, the chef comes to the private room and cooks the ingredients in front of the guests. We were thoroughly impressed with the cooking performance, I believe, the private rooms are equally enjoyable to what is experienced at the counter. The private rooms afforded us the privacy to talk among ourselves, yet offered us the opportunity and experience to view the chefs at work. 


Scallop soup

The broth from the scallop has a very rich taste, which warms you from the inside.

Tilefish with butterbur sprouts

Soy bean jello

Baby octopus

As is standard in kaiseki meals, the dish with rice was served,  the last dish served before dessert. The rice served to us was “Edo-style Ginger Rice with Clams”. The rice served contains a seasonal ingredient and varies day to day. 

Personally, I loved this dish. The clam broth and spice of the ginger went together perfectly, and even though we were full, it had us coming back for more.  

The dessert, sake-kazu (sake lees) ice cream with strawberry. 

In summary, our experience at Gion Suetomo was fantastic. The restaurant was gorgeous and clean, the cuisine beautifully presented and delicious, and our meal in the private room more than satisfying.  Of course, we were also equally impressed and thankful for the attentive service: the reputation of the service in Kyoto certainly lives up to its image. 

Gion Suetomo also allows guests with children to visit (in the private room). This might come as a surprise and fortunate for families traveling with children as as quite a bit of luxury Japanese restaurants do not permit children in the restaurant. 

The quality of the cuisine stood out in particular and the price of the courses seemed more than reasonable compared to other restaurants we have visited. Seeing what we got for the meal and the price paid, we felt as if the higher priced courses would be more than worth trying as well.  

祗園末友 (Gion Suetomo)

For reservations:

Address 1F, Komatsu-cho 151-73, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi

Business hours

【Lunch】12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (LO)
【Dinner】6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (LO)

Closed: Irregular Holidays


Counter Seating: 8 Seats
Tatami:2-10 guests
Private Room(1st Floor:1 Room、2nd Floor : 3 Rooms)
Maximum number of guests: 20

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