Kyoto - What & Where to Eat
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
If I had to choose between Tokyo and Kyoto, it would be Kyoto. There is this charm about Kyoto that is hard to describe, I just love the city.
Besides the delicious food, there is so much to see in Kyoto. It's a city that I can walk around to explore for hours on end.
Now back to the food, below are my recommendations of places that I thoroughly enjoyed eating at.
Fukujuen Kyoto Honten
Address: 〒600-8005 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 四条通富小路角
Opening hours: 11:30am - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Fukujuen Kyoto Honten is one of the most respected and oldest tea merchants in Kyoto since 1970 - this place is a 6-storey building dedicated to matcha.
On the second floor of Fukujuen, you are able to enjoy French homemade cuisine and Japanese sweets using traditional ujicha.
Kuzukiri (noodles made from roots of the kuzu plant) served with matcha sugar syrup.
Matcha brulee served with matcha jelly and fresh fruit.
Address: 420 Matsuyacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8105
Opening hours: 11:00am - 5:00pm, 5:30pm - 9:30pm
Soba vs Ramen/Tsukemen vs Udon...Soba comes in at second for me especially Zaru Soba.
I ordered the Tenzaru-Zen; cold soba noodles served with tempura. For the tempura, you get matcha salt to dip your tempura in. For your drink, they give you the option of water or hot soba tea and I chose hot soba tea. I must say, I found the hot soba tea quite interesting, not my favourite.
I love Zaru Soba and if you are a soba fan, definitely pay this place a visit.
Address: 20-10 Sagatenryuji Setogawacho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, 616-8376
Opening hours: 11:00am - 2:30pm (closed on Thursday and Sunday)
Murasawa Sirloin Steak (Grade: A5)
"Murasawa beef is a type of wagyu beef that is produced in the Nagano prefecture. The cows are fed only the finest feed and carefully raised for 24-27 months on a farm with tatami mat flooring to reduce the cows' stress levels. Since very few are exported, they are known as Japan's 'Legendary Beef'" - Matcha-JP.
What did I think of the Murasawa Sirloin Steak? It was AH-MAZINGLY DELICIOUS! The steak was incredibly juicy, tender and it melted in my mouth. If you brought your grandma here for lunch and she had no teeth, it wouldn't be a problem coz she can just gum it, that is how soft the steak was.
When you are visiting Arashiyama, I highly recommend paying Otsuka a visit but come at least 30mins earlier to queue up (they have a waiting list that you can put your name down) as it gets super packed by opening time.
It's called Legendary Beef for a very good reason, don't take my word for it, try it for yourself and be blown away.
Address: 757-2, Minamiiseyacho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-8153
Opening hours: 11:00am - 11:00pm
- no ramen no life -
Menbakaichidai has been serving fire ramen for more than 30 years.
You can definitely feel the heat in this place when they pour the hot oil over the ramen.
It is highly entertaining to see the ramen go up in flames, just don't get too close unless you want to get your eyebrows singed.
In terms of the ramen, it was a pretty decent bowl of ramen that was quite tasty but after tasting so many other bowls of ramen, this is just average. In saying that, Menbakaichidai is still for a visit for it's entertainment value.
Kyo Cafe Gion Sakai
Address: 〒604-8214 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 新町通錦小路上ル百足屋町388-1
Opening hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm
What is there not to love about gooey fondant puddings?
Kyo Cafe is a great place for a pit stop after you have explored every nook and cranny in Kyoto. The desserts and drinks here are delicious especially their fondant puddings.
During my first visit, I had the matcha chocolate fondant and the very next day, I came back and had the hojicha chocolate fondant.
Kichi Kichi Omurice
Address: 185-4 Zaimokucho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8017
Opening hours: 5:00pm - 9:00pm
You can find omurice anywhere in Japan but I held out and made sure my first ever omurice is from Kichi Kichi.
The amount of videos I have seen of Chef Motokichi Yukimura making the most delicious-looking omurice over the past few years plagued me and I never thought I would finally get to see the man himself in action and taste his food.
The omelette was so fluffy and with the combination of the rice and the demi-glace sauce, it was YUM!
Chef Motokichi Yukimura is highly entertaining and he is super friendly - see both videos as the second video is of his "special" for the omurice.
You definitely need to make a reservation here and you can do so on their website. You are allowed to make reservations online (four weeks in advance), I highly recommend not leaving this to the last minute because it does get booked out quickly especially if you are after a specific time.
Address: 845 Higashishiokoji Mukaihatacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8213
Opening hours: 5:00am - 2:00am (closed on Thursday)
This was an unexpected bowl of ramen for me.
This place was not on my list of ramen joints I wanted to eat at but oh boy, this definitely did not disappoint! The broth, though made with pork...for me, at first sip, it almost had a smokey duck flavour to it.
The special bowl was only 850 yen which is super cheap and if you are not a big eater, the mini is only 550 yen, it will still fill you up. The gyoza are worth ordering too.
The queue for this place can get quite long but it's worth the wait, doesn't matter what time of the day it is. It's a cheap, simple and no fuss ramen joint.
Some say that this is the best ramen they have eaten in Kyoto, I say it's a really good bowl of ramen but it's not my favourite.
Address: 570-235 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0074
Opening hours: 11:00am - 3:00pm, 5:00pm - 9:00pm
If you are ever in Kyoto and planned to visit Gion - the most famous geisha district that is located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and Kamo River in the west. You can read more here.
When I stumbled across this restaurant, I did wonder, how did Maiko (apprentice Geisha) eat sushi? So, I made a lunch booking here to have that experience.
For the lunch menu, there are two courses for you to choose from:-
Mame sushi course 4200 yen
(single appetizer, soup, deep-fried vegetables, jewel box sushi and sweet)
Mame sushi & Mame sara course 6000 yen
(assorted appetizers, soup, deep-fried vegetables, jewel box sushi and sweet)
I highly recommending going for the larger course.
I loved the obanzai (a traditional style of Japanese cuisine that is native to Kyoto), everything was executed so well and tasted delicious. (from left to right; top to bottom):-
egg - duck - sea bream wrapped in wakame - beancurd skin - sweet peppers - shrimp - plum - pumpkin & kidney bean - tomato - octopus - eel - seaweed
And the highlight of the entire course was the mame-zushi, small and round sized sushi that were made for Maiko so that they can eat them easily.
Aren't the mame-zushi just the cutest? They are all perfectly seasoned so you don't need to add anything to them.
Address: Level 7 of Takashimaya Kyoto
Opening hours: 11:00am - 9:30pm
How can one go wrong with a delicious bowl of chicken and egg over rice?
This bowl of oyako-don was cooked perfectly; sprinkle the shansho pepper generously to your liking and you'll have one kick ass comforting meal.
Address: 528-6 Giommachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0074
Opening hours: 11:30am - 8:30pm (closed on Tuesday)
Kakuni is Japanese braised pork and it pairs perfectly with the curry udon.
I have never really been a big fan of udon as I can't get good ones in Melbourne but I was not in Melbourne and this was delicious!
The curry is made with Mimikou's original blended curry spices, kelp and bonito. You can choose the level of your curry - regular, medium or strong and the type of udon you want - thick or regular.
This curry udon was a hearty meal that did not feel heavy on the stomach even when you have demolished the whole bowl.
Address: 452 Jumonjicho Yanaginobamba-dori Takoyakushi Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8121
Opening hours: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 10:30pm
This bowl of ramen was f**king amazing.
The broth was rich, smokey and full of flavour...that first sip of broth I took was love at first sight. I don't know how else to describe the taste but if one could have an intimate moment with food, this was it for me. I was smiling after every bite, every spoonful of the broth was so delicious and full of umami.
Gogyo Ramen achieves the burnt miso broth by cooking it in 300°C lard, heated in a wok that ignites flames in the kitchen.
This is my favourite bowl of ramen ever, there is no other ramen that comes even close to it.
Tea and Sake Room (Tasuki) by Pass the Baton
Address: 77-6 Sueyoshicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0085
Opening hours: 11:00am - 8:00pm (on Sunday, they close at 7:00pm)
You can get kakigori anywhere in Japan, it's perfect during the summer months but then, there's Pass the Baton's kakigori which is perfection.
Their bowls of kakigori stands tall, it's aesthetically pleasing and taste wonderful.
Pass the Baton opens at 11:00am and I made sure I was there by 10:00am to queue up, there was already a group of three people in front of me (not so bad being second in line). By the time they were about to open up, there was already a queue of more than 30 people behind me.
I delayed my trip to Tokyo (missed out on a day trip to Kamakura) just so I could taste the kakigori at Pass the Baton and it did not disappoint. It was everything I could have asked for in a bowl of kakigori; refreshing, delicious and tasted absolutely wonderful.
I really wanted to try the kakigori at Gion Niti but sadly, I missed out. It will definitely be on my list for the next time I am in Kyoto.
I love Kyoto. I can't wait to explore more of it and also to eat to my heart's content.