My first meal in Kyoto was dinner at this small homey Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) restaurant on Sanjo-jingu-michi. The owners were two lovely elderly couple. The menu was simple with a variety of Okonomiyaki, noodles, and stir fried dishes. There is no English menu available. Luckily, my sister could read and speak Japanese.
My sister and I were tired after a day of traveling, so we did not order too much. We ordered a stir-fry vegetable, fried kimchi udon noodle, and a seafood Okonomiyaki. The fried kimchi udon noodle was better than I expected. It was a mixture of sweet, salty and sour (from the kimchi). The pork slices in the fried udon were especially tender and savory, it had absorbed all the different flavors.
It was our first time having Okonomiyaki. It was intriguing watching the man make it. We were full of anticipation. When the Okonomiyaki was placed in front of us, we were as if two children who could not wait to dig into a bowl of cookies. 🙂
I could only taste the sweetness of the Okonomiyaki sauce on my first bite, but as I ate on, the other flavors (the vegetables, egg, shrimp, and squid) began to present itself. It was a savory pancake indeed and also very filling!
This is a good place to eat if you are in the area and looking for something less commercial.
Nishiki market is a four-hundred-year-old market. It has both modern and traditional shops selling fresh seafood, vegetables, souvenirs, local sweets, pickled vegetables, popular local food and etc. The market is very clean and packed with locals and tourists. It is a great place to explore local produce and savor Kyoto specialties. It is definitely worth visiting.
One of my favorite store at the market is the Aritsugu knife shop. They are one of the oldest and most famous knife makers in Japan.The knife selection was impressive and amazing handiwork. You can even have your initials carved onto the knife. A household kitchen knife would cost around 10,000 yen. They also sell other cutting tools such as scissors, pots, and pans. I regret not buying a knife when I was there. I will put that on my list of things to buy on my next trip.
After a long day strolling around Gion district, my sister and I settled down at the Doishibadukehompo (土井志ば漬本舗京都駅ポルタ店) restaurant for some sukiyaki. This restaurant has three floors. The first floor is a pickle store, selling all sorts of Japanese pickles. The second and third floor are for dining.
Sukiyaki is a popular Japanese hot pot dish. It usually consists of thin slices of beef, tofu, mushrooms, scallion, vegetables, and jelly noodles. Prior to writing about sukiyaki, I didn’t know that one was supposed to beat the egg and dip the cooked food into the raw egg. My sister, who studied the Japanese language and some of its culture, told me to crack the egg into the pot. So I took her word and did exactly that. Regardless, it was a good meal. The sukiyaki cost 1450yen per set.
Doshibadukehompo is located along Shijo Dori right next to Noen Coffee shop. The map below shows the location of Noen Coffee shop.
There is a little steam bun stand next to Okutan iKyomizu (one of the oldest tofu restaurant in Kyoto) right on the top of Ninenzaka, on the way to the Kiyomizu temple.
The steam bun has a sweet stuffing of okara (soy pulp). The bun is delicately soft and fluffy. Complimentary tea is given with each order. The perfect snack on a cold day. There are benches available where one can sit, people watch while enjoying the steam bun and tea.
Kagizen Yoshifusa is a long-established sweet shop in Kyoto making Kyogashi (Kyoto sweets). The interior is furnished with old style furniture and wood panels –
very vintage. All confectionaries are beautifully handcrafted.
There is also a cafe located at the Gion branch offering a simple menu consisting of Matcha, mochi, Japanese cake, and their house specialty “Kuzukiri” which is noodles made from kudzu starch served with a brown sugar syrup.
Pontoiru is a modern Kyoto fusion pasta restaurant located on the 11th floor of The Cube shopping mall at the Kyoto station.
The menu is seasonal and English menu is available. They have a special set menu where you can have 2 different pasta (obviously at a smaller amount each), a drink and a dessert for 1340yen. I ordered the Pollock roe & shrimp with cream sauce pasta, duck pasta with cream sauce, matcha latte, and pudding with taro ice cream. My sister decided to go with the a la carte menu and ordered the oyster with leek and scallion pasta in ginger butter sauce. The pasta were all delicious, each with its own unique Japanese flavor. The ingredients were very fresh.
The matcha latte was smooth and rich. The pudding was refreshing. It had a jello-like texture. It was not too sweet and the matcha sauce gave it a nice tea flavor.
If you want to taste something a little different from the traditional Japanese dishes, this is a good alternative.