Although ピニョ食堂Pinyo Shokudo opened in mid-November 2012, I started noticing it in magazines as of last year; when I realized it was off 川端通Kawabata Street close to the 三条京阪Sanjo Keihan area on 仁王門通Niomon Street, I made a mental note to go, especially when I was in the mood for Korean which is the cuisine that they offer. I’m a bit ashamed to say this but I’m a horrible representative of someone from a Korean background in that I don’t eat Korean much here in Japan…I guess I figure I can always get good Korean food when I go to Korea or just have my family’s home cooking when I go back to the States; meanwhile I want to enjoy whatever else Japan can offer that I can’t get elsewhere. Besides, authentic Korean can be expensive, not to mention small in amount, here in Japan.
When I dropped by eskapi last week, I asked Eriko-san about recommendations for cafes and she mentioned Pinyo…when I got the day off suddenly two days ago, I took the opportunity to drop by.
The simple yet charming exterior is a reason that locals and visitors alike may be tempted to enter…of course after almost three years of business, they’ve attained their share of regulars as well.
The area inside is compact with the dining area consisting of this area with the only table in the place
and the counter in front of the kitchen which seats about 10 customers.
옥수수차oksusu-cha (corn tea) is self-serve in the kettles on the counter.
a cute cozy corner with the origin of the restaurant’s name, 비녀binyeo, a traditional hair ornament that holds women’s chignons, framed
When I arrived, there was a party at the table as well as a couple at the end of the counter closest to the entrance and a lone male customer on the other side of the counter, so naturally I chose the seat in the middle of the counter.
After taking a look at the menu which includes small dishes (like 물만두mul-mandu, or boiled Korean dumplings) to be ordered separately as well as meals of 탕tang (soup) and 찌개jjigae (stew) which come with five-grain rice and 반찬banchan (side dishes) as well as Korean alcohol and other drinks, I chose 순두부定食sundubu teishoku (spicy soft-tofu stew), ￥1100.
Pinyo makes it less spicy because quite a few Japanese can’t handle especially spicy food; for those who like their food spicy, they can add more spices but I chose to have it the way it was presented to me which was still delicious.
I got to chat a bit with the husband owner who was manning the restaurant alone for the first part of my visit when I started eating; at the time all the customers had left and it was just the two of us. The owner seemed reserved to me which is why I started the conversation but I soon realized he’s really a talkative person. I found out he’s Korean-Japanese, so I told him I’m Korean-American at which he seemed pleasantly surprised. You know, I really enjoy meeting and talking with Koreans raised outside of Korea because I feel we have quite a bit in common despite being raised in different countries. Anyway, our pleasant chat lasted only until more customers came to make it a full house at which his wife (in a cute Korean-style apron) returned to help. At one point a regular came in for a certain item on the menu which had been announced (she sat next to me) but when she found out that it was sold out, she was so verbal about her disappointment that I couldn’t help chuckling…I definitely go through that disappointment often myself.☺
Before I left, I presented the couple with my card so that they could check out my blog, especially when I posted about Pinyo at which the husband owner gave me his card…that’s when I found out his Korean name but he told me I could call him Zen-san, the Japanese pronunciation of his last name.
With a warm atmosphere and comforting Korean food at an affordable price, I need to go more often.☺
Update: Over two months later, I took Mason to Pinyo Shokudo knowing that she would be interesting in trying it out, and I was right☺. Zen-san greeted us energetically and we took a seat in front of him at the counter. He said that he had seen my blog entry.☺
Mason took her time perusing the menu and then some more time because everything sounded so good but finally she ordered the センチェピビンパsenche pibinpa (산채비빔밥sanchae (mountain vegetable) bibimbap), ￥1050…you pour a miso-based soup over this sanchae bibimbap.
I got the ソルロンタン定食sorurontan teishoku (설렁탕seolleongtang (ox-bone soup) meal), ￥850.
Mason was really satisfied with her meal and even put it down as one of the best that she’s had in Japan. I was satisfied with my seolleongtang, too; there’s just something heartwarming about a hot soup, even during the summer…I may just order it again sometime.
I didn’t notice before but Zen-san and Sakiko-san are expecting a baby because she definitely had a baby bump by now!
Update: Over three months later, Rika was up for having dinner at Pinyo Shokudo, so I met her there. The place was quite happening and the only seats open were in front of Zen-san again who greeted us just as enthusiastically as before…I even ran into two people I know: one was 杉山早陽子さんSayoko Sugiyama, a famous Japanese confectioner in Kyoto who I had met earlier that month at the けしき 揺れるSights of the Everyday, Unseen sway- 菊地ルイKikuchi Rui exhibition; she sat next to us with her friend and recognized me but since I didn’t want to disturb them, I just said hi. The other was Kawamura-san, owner of 鳥の木珈琲Tori no Ki Coffee who came in with her friend not too long after Rika and I got seated..although they were seated at the far end away from us, they eventually moved next to us when more customers came in (they left before we did).
Just like Mason before her, Rika had a hard time deciding what she wanted but she finally settled on the コンビヂチゲ定食konbijichige teishoku (콩비지 찌게kongbiji jjigae, or ground-soybean stew), ￥800 (I had the seolleongtang again).
Rika was satisfied with her rich and creamy stew and of course my seolleongtang was good. We stayed until close talking with Zen-san who ended up manning the place alone and who was excited about becoming a father anytime soon.
Also, as of August this year, Pinyo Shokudo has a second shop, ナグネコプテギ나그네 껍데기Nageune Kkeoptegi (“Traveler Skin”) where one can grill meat, including 豚皮돼지껍데기pig skin (yum!), on steel drums as can be experienced in Korea until after midnight; you can find this restaurant along 河原町通Kawaramachi Street around 竹屋町通Takeyacho Street. For more information (sorry, only in Japanese): https://www.facebook.com/nageunekkeoptegi/
Address: 〒606-8385 京都市左京区孫橋町Kyoto-shi. Sakyo-ku. Magohashi-cho 18-3
Telephone number: 075-746-2444
Access: 京阪三条駅か地下鉄東西線三条京阪駅より北へ徒歩５分minutes north by foot from Keihan Sanjo Station or Subway Tozai Line Sanjo Keihan Station or 地下鉄東西線京都市役所前駅より東へ徒歩５分minutes by foot from Subway Tozai Line Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station
Business hours: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:00pm
Cafe holiday: Thursday
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Pinyoshokudou