17. A traditional vegetarian lunch at Jyun-sei, Across from Nanzenji Temple 南禅寺 (Higashiyama, Kyoto)—KenOn our day spent walking the Path of Philosophy (哲学の道 Tetsugaku no Michi) in Northeastern Kyoto (Northern Higashiyama), we started early at Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji, and walked south to Nanzen-ji specifically so we could have lunch at Jyun-sei Restaurant. Simizu-san's mother had recommended it to us, and we heard from several other sources that this was a great place to try Shojin-Ryori (Buddhist cuisine).
There was another bustling place across the street from Nanzen-ji 南禅寺 and slightly north, but that wasn't the place (though it looked nice!) They told us how to get the Jyun-sie by going to the South corner of Nanzen-ji and turning one block West, if memory serves. Once we were headed in the right direction, it was easy to find. There was a little store out front with a woman handing out hot tea samples.
The restaurant is through a gate into a small garden complex, and there was a friendly man sort of directing people around. We arrived early enough in the lunch cycle to get a place right away.
There's a large open room (like eating in one of the temples we had just visited) with tatami mats and many low tables with floor pillows. There were old-style Japanese signs hanging on the walls with engraved and painted calligraphic script, and it certainly looked like the place had been there for a long time.
Each table has a gas burner in the middle for the hot pot.
They had a picture menu set on the table, and somehow we ordered the full set, whatever was most obvious.
The food was really nice: simple yet delicious. During the first course, a large pot with tofu cubes is set on the burner and we were told to leave it alone to boil for a while.
The people-watching was another fun part as we were quickly surrounded by families and other path walkers, nearly all Japanese. It was pretty cold that day, and sitting around the hot pot with a cup of tea was just what I was hoping for.
I think the tempura was my favorite part.
The tofu was almost more than the two of us could eat together. We did not leave hungry!
Somewhere along our route, we came across a Taiwanese woman taking pictures with a nice camera and signtseeing alone. We took reciprocal photos at one of the temples. Then, by chance, we ran into her again at Jyun-sei. She took this photo of us.