There’s a Scottish pub in north Kyoto named antighseinnse (a.k.a. Horie’s Bar). The name (pronounced “an ti shayn jay” I think) is Gaelic and means simply “Inn”. The owner Toshiyuki Horie named it after a favored pub on the isle of Islay in Scotland and still proudly wears a T-shirt celebrating “The best pub in Portnahaven”. Horie-san, a self-described whisky otaku or geek, visited Scotland out of his interest in Scottish whisky and there he fell in love with the scenery, culture and the warm and friendly people he met there. He went on to revisit Scotland every year over a ten year period. Now his pub is a celebration of Scottish culture and fine whisky. He also does some damn fine pub food. The menu is enormous and ranges from typical Scottish pub food (Guinness stew! Venison steaks!) to Korean dishes. Why Korean dishes? “If they’re tasty, why not?” says Horie-san. I recommend his hand made bespoke pizzas myself. Absolutely wonderful. Here are some pictures. Go to flickr for a closer look.
Horie-san himself is an entertaining fellow, and if you sit at the counter and he’s not too busy he can chat with you for hours on end. While we were there, he told us about his whisky tasting experiences, his travels in Scotland, and some of his amusing regular customers. He also gave us an fascinating talk about the relationship between Japanese sake in different regions, the local geography and how this affects the flavor and what food is best eaten with it. Whether sake or whisky, he is quite the expert on the culture of these beverages and it makes you realize what a shame it would be to unthinkingly knock the stuff back just to get drunk. Horie-san was kind enough to share with us a sip of 1965 Glen Grant on our last visit and together we shared our impressions of the changing flavor and aroma as this fine vintage whisky aired; hints of papaya, mango and then custard cream… Just like sipping history. This pub is a whisky specialty shop but also has a good range of beers on tap including Guinness (of course) but also that fine Japanese micro-brew Yona Yona real ale. It’s not far from Shimogamo Shrine and the Tadasu no mori woods, so if you happen to be sightseeing or rambling in the area it’s a nice spot for you to finish off your day with some good pub grub and a quiet drink. Horie’s bar is on the west side of Shimogamo Street, a little ways north of the bridge at Demachiyanagi. Here is a map.
Opening hours:4:00 pm ~ 2:00 am
Related articles: Sheep’s Public Cafe
In Search of the Craic: A guide to Kyoto’s Irish pubs.