On our second night in Kyoto, we set off in search of an izakaya around the downtown area. I had a very specific image in mind of what I wanted: a small yakitori joint, maybe 8 to 10 seats, with a wise old man behind the counter humbly cooking family recipes while his wife pours locally brewed sake. We walked endlessly, peeking through windows and staring quizzically at menus laden with kanji, before I resigned to the fact that I’d never stumble upon such a place. Angie suggested that we journey on, passing cafes, kushikatsu joints, French bistros, until we finally chanced upon 京 Apollo Hexagon.
Walking in, we discovered an intimately lit izakaya with a slight hipster feel. We were seated at a small table next to a group of co-workers celebrating a hard day of work with a rather large hotpot and many empty glasses. I glanced jealously over my shoulder at the crowded counter of patrons laughing with a couple of chefs, as they served them freshly grilled yakitori. This envy at my stolen vision soon dissipated when I spotted the menu. Within moments we had ordered a feast of goodies and settled in, eagerly awaiting our dinner. Our drinks arrived first: a simple beer for me, and the much more sumptuous aotani no ume (seven-year aged umeshu plum wine made from locally grown Kyoto plums) for Angie.
We were then presented with the okonomiyaki skewer (¥250) and the pork and cheese skewer (¥240), both beautifully deep-fried to perfection. The okonomiyaki skewer is exactly what you’d imagine: a mini okonomiyaki pancake on a stick, slathered in okonomi sauce, Japanese mayo and plenty of bonito flakes. The pork and cheese skewer, with its awesome combination, was made even better with that crunchy crumbed exterior.
Next came Angie’s favourite: the deep-fried sweet potato sticks (¥520). Basted with a generous amount of sticky-sweet honey and fragrant butter, and sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds, we demolished the entire plate of thick cut chips with no remorse.
We also ordered two kushiyaki sets – the assorted grilled chicken set (¥900, 5 skewers), and the ‘popular’ spit roasting set (¥1630, 5 skewers). Both sets are great for those who can’t decide what they want, coming with a good range of different skewers. Our favourites were the saikoro (diced) steak topped with grated radish and fried garlic chips, and the tsukune (chicken meatball). The yakitori negima (chicken thigh + scallion) skewer was also fantastic.
Nearly bursting with food yet still not sated, I ordered two extra skewers: the deep-fried Camembert skewer (¥180) and nankotsu (chicken cartilage, ¥230). Now, Camembert as-is is amazing enough. Throw on some breadcrumbs and deep-fry it however, and you have something beyond amazing. Perfection. Angie had to quickly stop me from ordering five more! The nankotsu (not pictured) was equally as good with a great crunch and slightly charred edges.
With a beautiful interior and wonderful food, Apollo is a great place for those looking for a hip, modern, and laid back izakaya experience. There are enough skewers (and other goodies) on the menu to keep any foodie happy, all at fairly reasonable prices.
京 APOLLO HEXAGON IZAKAYA
Kyoto Hexagon, Takakura Nishiiri ru
Opening hours: 5pm – 12am