April 11, 2017
The Best 10 Places to Eat in Kyoto
Kyoto is one of the most visited cities in the world. It used to be a capital of Japan more than a millennium. A unique culture was developed to serve the worthiest family in Japan. Food was developed to be tasty and beautiful looking. It is an art in Kyoto. Fresh or cooked, the colors have to be right. Although this is the most authentic city in Japan, Their culture is mixed with outside world and presents the best of it. Here are some tasty food you need to try.
1. Okutan Nanzenji
This is what I miss so much, fresh Tofu. It’s hardly any Tofu so soft outside Kyoto. It is said that the water coming down from surrounding mountains of Kyoto has less iron in and that helps make Tofu so soft and silky. Tofu has been the mail ingredients of food for monks and as you know there are lots of monks in Kyoto.
The simple way to eat it is eat raw but try “Yudofu” – Tofu boiled in very hot water. Then you scoop up the tofu and dip into specially made sauces. Yes that’ is it. So for Yudofu to be good the Tofu has to be good and Kyoto does it best.
Okutan is located near well-known Temple called Nanzenji and it’s been there for over three and a half centuries. The restaurant has a beautiful Japanese garden to look out. You will be surprise how much Tofu fills you up. Don’t worry; it’s not all you eat. Beautiful non oil dishes are included in lunch menu. This place recommended by many visitors abroad. It is not cheap but fantastic experience.
Name: Sohonke Yudofu Okutan Nanzenji
Address: 86-30 Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:00 – 16:30
Access: 10 min walk from Keage Station
Meat eating history in Japan is relatively short. Because of their use of chopsticks, meat is always sliced very thinly before cooked. Sukiyaki is like roast dinner. You don’t eat it every day. Put one big pan on the table and throw in thinly sliced beef, veggies, tofu or anything you’d like – that’s what “Suki” means.
Then cook (yaki) it with soya sauce, mirin and sugar. The juice from the beef makes differences in flavor. When it’s done, dip the food in raw egg and eat.
Mishimatei is a very posh butcher serving the best beef in Kyoto for years. The restaurant is located in the middle of the city. If you think it’s rather pricy, try a branch Takashimaya Department Store. It’s more casual. Or you can buy some slices in the basement floor of Takashimaya and cook them at home.
Name: Mishimatei Takashimaya Kyoto-ten
Address: 7F Restaurant floor Takashimaya, 52 Shin-cho, Shijo-dori Kawaramachi nishiiru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:00 – 21:00
Access: Above Hankyo Kawaramachi Station
Ramen – egg noodles in a bowl of soup,is an automate fast food for Japanese. It’s cheap and fills you up. Having many universities and colleges, Ramen is a bog business in Kyoto.
Takayasu is located so called “Ramen Street” in Ichijoji, northern part of the city. It stands out among many Ramen shops because its milky soup is amazing. The stock is made over 22 hours and it looks thin but creamy. Everything on the menu is so inexpensive and so tasty. Perfect for people with small budget. You must try their fried chicken as well. Just simple yummy!
Address: 10 Takatuki-cho, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:30 – 3:00am
Access: 4 min walk from Ichijoji Station
4. Miyako Yasai kamo
Obanzai is a kind of non oil vegetarian food which has been commonly eaten at home in Kyoto. No particular recipe for it but it’s usually made with veggies grown locally. Thes Obanzai restaurant Kamo is a heaven for vegetarians. Everything tastes very organic.
Mounts of vegetables cooked in different colors on large plates look fabulous. Not for junk food lovers, lol! There are 3 branches and they all opens at 7:00am for all you can eat breakfast with all you can drink for 500 yen!. Sorry, no fried eggs and beacons, I’m afraid.
There are tasty soups and smoothies on the menu as well. Kamo is well known for its veggie dishes but also for thinly sliced meat dish called Shabu-shabu. It comes with beautiful home-grown vegetables as well.
Name: Miyako Yasai Kamo
Address: 276 ougizakaya-cho, Higashinotoin ayanokoji sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 7:00-10:00 / 11:00–16:00 / 17:00–23:00
Access: 3 min from Karsuma Station
Matcha is getting widely known around the world as a flavour. It’s not like any other green teas. Matcha is a kind of green tea but it’s powdered and more intense therefore bitter. Some monks developed some methods of making Matcha tea properly and those methods used to be loved by Samurais as a way of spiritual meditations. Still now days you need to be qualified to teach the method.
Kyoto produces one of the best tea leaves in the world and Matcha has been a very big part of people’s lives. Matcha ceremonies are on at many temples every week.
It’s so bitter that some sweets are served with. Kyo-Hayashiya was one of the first one to put both sweetness of sugar and bitterness of Matcha together. I guess it is the same concept as Dark Chocolate. Once you discover the beauty of the taste, you get hooked!.
Kyo-Hayashiya’s signature is Matcha Parfait (Sundae). It is a beautiful combination of Japanese and French desserts. The restaurant is very stylish. You can of course buy some tea there as well. There are 9 branches including the one in Hong Kong.
Names: Kyo-Hayashiya Kyoto Sanjo-ten
Address: Takase Building 6F Nakajima-cho, Sanjo Kawaramachi Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:30 – 21:30
Access: 3 min from Sanjo Station
6. Le Petitmec
Considering how authentic the city is, there are so many bakeries and so many breads and pastries at supermarkets. They are, like everything else in Japan, so many kinds and so good looking. All smell so good and you really want to know what’s inside….but not much English I’m afraid. Well you just have to be brave and try the one smells best.
Like the name Le Petitmec, Japanese has been influenced by French cuisine, especially bread and pastries over years. I may be bias but Bread and pastries in Japan are more innovative and creative. They are not just breakfast and snack.
Le Petitmac Imadegawa is just like a bakery you find in France. You will be overwhelmed by the fresh smell of bread when you step in. They always have something seasonable in the menu and it’s worth trying. Their café a lait is better than Starbucks!
Name: Le Petitmec Imadegawa
Addrress: 1F Daishin Mezone Nishijin Imadegawa Building, 159 Motokitakojo-cho, Kanigyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 8:00 – 20:00
Access: 2 min walk from Imadegawa-Omiya City bus station
7. Inoda Coffee
Just like any other big cities, there are cafés all over the cities. Some are signposted so well and some are hidden and known for locals. There are many visitors and students in Kyoto and the variety of cafés are impressive. So you can imagine how competitive the business is.
Idoda Coffee started its business just after WWII started. Soon after that Japan was flooded with Western waves and Coffee became a part of their lives. Inoda coffee shops in Kyoto used to be the place where people stopped by to have some decent coffee listening to 50’s music from record player and reading newspaper with cigarettes. It is still very much the same. All shops are pretty much retrospective.
Not only they serve decent coffee but they have some very traditional and original westernised food in the menu. Coffee with French toast or Cinnamon Toast is my favorite. Cutlet sandwiches used to be my treat when I was very young and they still have it on the menu. All branches have a mill outside. I just love their coffee.
Name: Inoda Coffee Honten (Flagship)
Address: 140 Douyu=cho, Sakaimachi-dori Sanjo Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 7:00 – 19:00
Access: 10 min walk from Oikekarasuma Station
As I mentioned before, the city of Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and far from the sea. In old days fish only came from fresh water lake Biwa in its neighbouring city. Nearly 230 years ago, Izuu found a way to preserve fresh mackerel from Japan Sea in salt to bring them into the city. They also created Sushi with it. As the fish from Japan Sea was so rare and expensive, this Mackerel sushi, Sabazushi, was only for special occasions like festivals, celebrations and anniversaries and it still stays the same now.
You fold cooked rice into a bar shape and lay fatty mackerels over. Wrap the bar in thick seaweed and again wrap that with bamboo leaf, then rest it for a half day. Take the bamboo leaf and cut into pieces, just like you cut a rolled sponge cake. Then take the seaweed off before serving. The flavour is just unbelievable.
You can get Sabazushi at a lot of supermarkets with more affordable price. Make sure it looks shiny and fresh.
Address: 367 Kiyomoto-cho, Yasaka Shinchi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Access: 5min from Gion-Shijo Station
9. Niomon Uneno
Udon means white rice noodles. Like pasta, there are all different kinds of Udon in Japan. They are all noodles but some are chunky and some are thin. Some are round and some are flat. The one which is regarded as traditional Kyoto is lightly thinner and lighter.
Uneno is located near Niomon Temple. Its main business is to produce fish stock. It’s totally organic. Udon soup is so tasty that you will finish it all. Compare to other Udon restaurant, Uneno is a little expensive but it’s worth it.
This is one of the posh ones. Udon restaurants are everywhere is Kyoto. A lot o them have 3D menu made of wax outside the restaurants. If you don’t know what to choose, go for a simple “Kitsune (fox)” Udon – fried bean curd and Japanese leek in soup.
Name: Niomon Uneno
Address: 41 Shin-Marutamachi, Sakyo-Ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:30 – 15;30 / 16:30 – 19:30
Access: 4 min walk from Sanjo Station
10. Kyoto Wakuden
Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course dinner. Its menu differs depending on where you are in Japan. It shows the skills of Master Chefs in taste and looks. Usually the menu is seasonable and fresh.
Wakuden has two fine dining restaurants in suburb of Kyoto city, and they are very traditional and very expensive. Kyoto Kakuden is located on 11th floor of a very tall building attached to Kyoto Station. It’s like a posh drink bar and you will sit facing the window. The view, especially night time, is fantastic. I would recommend ordering chef’s recommended because it’s usually seasonable and the best. Not inexpensive but reasonable for good Kaiseki cuisine.
Wakuden has another more casual Soba noodle restaurant in Northern part of Kyoto called Itsutsu. You need to get a taxi from Kitaoji Station.
Name: Kyoto Wakuden
Address: 11F JP Isetan Building, 901 Higashi-Shiokojimachi, Karasuma Shiokoji Sagaru, Shumogyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:00– 15:30 / 17:00–22:00
Access: Next to Kyoto Station
Let’s enjoy Kyoto’s original cuisine!
So what do you think? Kyoto is a city with many faces. Sometimes it’s authentic and sometimes it’s ridiculously modernised. The locals are proud of their roots and aren’t afraid to show it off. No matter how it looks, the fundamental ingredients in Kyoto cosine have been the same for years and they love it. So be brave and try something new!