Kyoto’s regional cuisine is known for its delicacy and refinement, mainly because of the city’s status as a former imperial capital. A meal in Kyoto can fall into three different styles: kaiseki-ryori or haute cuisine, shojin-ryori or vegetarian temple cuisine, and obanzai-ryori or traditional home cooking. Regardless of the style, a meal in Kyoto is sensual despite its simplicity and minimal use of seasonings. It’s meant to be enjoyed not just for the taste of the dishes served, but also for their appearance and aroma. Ultimately, you can dine in whatever style you wish, but these are the ten best eats you must not miss on your trip to Kyoto.
Baumkuchen is a traditional German cake that has become a household favorite in Japan. Kyoto’s confectioneries have transformed it into something truly unique and scrumptious. How? By mixing tofu and green tea powder in the cake layers.
Compared to other types of sushi served elsewhere in Japan and the rest of the world, Kyoto-style sushi is slightly different. In Kyoto, the sushi uses cured fish and the rice used has a stronger vinegar flavor. Their specialties include inarizushi, made with tofu skins and vegetables; hakozushi, box-shaped sushi with Spanish mackerel and pike eel; and sabazushi, made with pickled mackerel.
Matcha is a special green tea that’s usually used in tea ceremonies. The use of matcha, however, has found its way into daily Japanese cooking. Kyoto’s matcha-flavored desserts are considered among the best in Japan as it is rich but not too sweet.
Dango are Japanese sweet dumplings made with rice flour but Mitarashi dango is a unique Kyoto invention and is definitely one of the best eats you need to try there! It is a sweet-savoury treat characterized by its clear yet sticky soy sauce glaze. Traditionally, served skewered together in groups of five.
Soba is not unique to Kyoto. It didn’t originate from Kyoto, either. But Kyoto boasts of awesome soba that’s so good to eat on a hot summer day. The best place to eat soba is at Honke Owariya, a soba place just across the Imperial Palace that’s been on that spot and serving soba since 1465.
Known as Kyoto specialty or as some call it, a Kyoto obsession. Kyoto cuisine features different ways to prepare tofu. Some restaurants in Kyoto also serve set meals in which the dishes are all made with tofu! Yudofu, in particular, is a tofu dish you will most certainly only find in Kyoto.
In Japanese, Tsukemono literally means “pickled things”. There are many different types of tsukemono, depending on the ingredient used in pickling them. Most use vinegar as their pickling agent, but some also mix other ingredients like sugar, miso, hot mustard, and soy sauce to create different pickle flavours. In Kyoto, it is usually served on the side of your meal. For example, with rice as a side dish or topping, with tea as a snack, or as a garnish to other dishes. Above all, Tsukemono cleanses the palate and provides refreshment to counter the other flavorful dishes.
Made with glutinous rice flour, cinnamon and sugar, Yatsuhasi is a type of Japanese sweet snack. However, it can taste differently depending on how it’s prepared. When eaten raw, Yatsuhasi is soft and chewy. When baked, it can take on the texture of crunchy fortune cookies. On top of that, you might found it filled with red bean paste that has been flavoured with fruits, chocolate or green tea!
What is Yuba? Yuba is soy milk that has been boiled to form tofu skin which has many uses in Kyoto cuisine and can also be eaten as it is with a soy sauce dip.
Kyoto has many fantastic, mouthwatering treats. Book your trip today so you can savour all the best eats Kyoto has to offer. While you’re here, why not check out other articles about Japan here!