Before Tokyo stole the limelight as Japan’s capital, Kyoto had been the country’s cultural center for about a thousand years. A visit to the Imperial Palace attests to the city’s former political importance. Aside from this, spiritual dignity and power emanate from the many Shinto and Buddhist temples that adorn the city’s map. The Golden Pavilion, a gold-plated temple, is a must-see. The Kamo and Takase rivers, on the other hand, are natural playgrounds where visitors can enjoy hiking and cycling. The city also boasts of many markets and tea houses for foodies.
In Kyoto, you will find some delectable dishes that you just cannot miss! There are some mouth-watering dishes and tasty dishes like Unagi Donburi, Kyotostyle Ramen, and Yudofu and many more. Continue reading to know more.
1. Unagi Donburi
Unagi donburi is usually grilled eel and when it’s cooked well, it’s one of the most memorable meals you’ll have during your travels. Imagine a bite of fish as tender and toothsome as steamed cod, its crisp exterior doused with a sweet, and salty soy sauce. It’s best wolfed down with lots of white rice, and chased with a gulp or two of cold sake.
The most popular places to try out Unagi Donburi are Kyōgoku Kane-yo and Unagi Hirokawa.
2. Kyotostyle Ramen
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish that is prepared in a variety of ways, reflecting the tastes of specific locales in Japan. Ramen can be prepared with a variety of ingredients: meat, fish or soy sauce base broths can be mixed with a seeming endless variety of toppings such as pork, seaweed, kamaboko or onions. The unique combination of ingredients one finds in a ramen dish will vary based on location. For example, in Kyoto, one can even find pork oil added to the mix.
The most popular places to try out Kyotostyle Ramen are Honke Daiichiasahi and Ramen Sen-no-Kaze Kyoto.
Yudofu is a traditional Japanese tofu dish that is most commonly eaten during the winter. “Yu” means hot water in Japanese and “dofu” means “tofu.” Yudofu is a both a tasty and healthy treat that is high in protein and low in calories. It is typically made in a hot pot and served as a soup or stew.
The most popular places to try out Yudofu are Yudofu Sagano and Nanzenji Junsei.
4. Tsukemono Pickles
Shibazuke are specialty pickles that are the byproducts of making plums. The interesting part is they are purple! The plum vinegar that they are pickled with is what gives them the purple tint. They are salty and a tiny bit sour and are served in Kyoto cuisine. They are made of cucumber (of course), eggplant, perilla leaves (shiso) ginger and myoga (a mild flavored spice similar to ginger) and pickled in plum vinegar.
The most popular places to try out Tsukemono Pickles are Senmai-zuke, Murakami-Ju Honten and Sushi-ya.
Yatsuhashi is a Japanese confectionary sold mainly as a souvenir sweet for visitors. It is one of the most famous regional products of Kyoto, Japan, and it is made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon. It is shaped into triangular cracker intended to represent the Japanese harp, or a bamboo stalk cut lengthwise. In its raw form, unbaked yatsuhashi has a soft, mushy like texture and is often eaten wrapped around red bean paste.
The most popular places to try out Yatsuhashi are Izutsu Yatsuhashi JR Kyoto Isetan Store and Idutsu Yatsuhashi Honpo.
6. Unagi Nigiri
Unagi is literally translated to freshwater eel and nigiri is the bed of rice it lays on. Unagi nigiri is a real delicacy in Japan, where it is a very common ingredient and is high in protein, vitamin A and calcium. If you’re already familiar with sushi, you might have encountered unagi on the menu.
The most popular places to try out Unagi Nigiri are Kane-yo and Unagi Hirokawa.
Okonomiyaki is a savory delight which can be found on offer in eateries throughout Japan, but particularly in the Kansai and Hiroshima regions. Okonomiyaki is a name derived from how this food is tailored to the individual preferences of the person ordering; the name being translated as “grill” and “what you like.” As implied by the name, a number of different ingredients can be added to these pancakes as they are being prepared.
The most popular places to try out Okonomiyaki are Donguri, Oagari and Okonomiyaki Katsu.
Namafu is made of solid wheat gluten with the term “fu” meaning “gluten” which originated in Japan. The wheat gluten is combined with rice flour, steamed into large blocks, and then cut like a loaf of bread. It can be grilled or roasted over a flame like cooking meat.
The most popular places to try out Namafu are Kamokamo, Koan Kyotoekimaeten and Miyabian.
9. Soymilk Donut
Soymilk donuts are made with soymilk. The amount of soymilk in the donuts make them very sweet and creamy. They are crunchy on the outside and chewy inside. You can find babs of soymilk donuts for sale at food stalls located in the market. But the best are when they are fresh and straight out of the oil!
The most popular places to try out Soymilk Donut are Nishiki market, Brulee Kyoto and Kyoto’s Kitchen.
Sometimes referred to as an “art form”, kaiseki focuses on presentation, taste, texture, appearance and color of the food being served. The chef ultimately decides what is served and in what order, although there are some standard courses such as an appetizer served with saki, a simmered dish, a sashimi dish, a dish to celebrate the season, a grilled course and a rice dish. Dessert and a macha tea ceremony cap the evening.
The most popular places to try out Kaiseki are Gion KyoRyori Hanasaki, Gion Karyo and Gion Takuma.
11. Soba Noodles
Soba means buckwheat in Japanese. These thin noodles are made from buckwheat flour or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours. These noodles can be thin and smooth, plain and simple, tough and chewy or just about anyway that you can imagine. Thick wheat noodles are referred to as udon.
The most popular places to try out Soba Noodles is Honke Owariya.
12. Tako Tamago
Tako Tamago consists of a baby octopus stuffed with a boiled quail egg. The whole assembly is coated with a sweet glaze and sold on a stick. The sweet / salty / chewy combination that greets you upon the first bite makes a memorable impression. Tako tamago is most often sold in markets and as a street food, particularly in the city of Kyoto.
The most popular places to try out Tako Tamago are Nishiki Market and Sengyo Kimura.
Descended from a method of preserving fish by wrapping it in rice, sushi has evolved into an art form of culinary splendors. The best sushi requires a strict rice-making process, highly-honed knife skills, and a deep knowledge of seafood. Served by the roll or by the slice, the plating of sushi with soy sauce, wasabi, shoga sauce and ginger is as beautiful as the experience of eating it.
The most popular places to try out Sushi are kyoto-sushi and Musashi Sushi.
Takoyaki is made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. The balls are brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with green laver and shavings of dried bonito. Takoyaki was first popularized in Osaka, where a street vendor is credited with its invention in 1935.
The most popular places to try out Takoyaki is Takotora Kamishichiken.
15. Crab Stick
Crab sticks are usually made of starch, fillers and “surimi”, a finely pounded white fish, shaped to look like the leg meat of the Japanese spider crab or snow crab. While crab sticks can sometimes be made with real crab, it pays to ask questions or read the ingredients first. Most crab sticks in the US are made from Alaska pollock from the North Pacific Ocean. Fillers such as egg white, wheat and flavoring are often added.
The most popular places to try out Crab Stick is Takoyaki at Karikari Hakase.
The traditional Japanese cooking technique known as karaage, also called dry-frying, involves lightly coating an ingredient in arrowroot starch and then deep frying it. While this style of cooking can be used on several different types of fish and meats, the most common ingredient used is chicken. The technique results in very succulent meat on the interior with the outside being very crispy.
The most popular places to try out Karaage are Karako and Kuma.
Tempura is a cooking technique common to Japan. It was introduced to them as a fritter-cooking method in the 16th Century by Portuguese who lived in Nagasaki. As the term “tempura” has Latin origins referring to a period when no meat is eaten, vegetables are most commonly used. However, the light and crispy coating has also been adapted to use with seafood and other meats.
The most popular places to try out Tempura are Kyouboshi, Tenriki tempura and Tempura Endo Yasaka.
The tamagoyaki combines a love of hearty breakfasts with traditional Japanese flavors. This egg-based dish can include sugar, soy sauce, sake, shrimp, yams, and a variety of other food combinations. Alternate variations of this dish include Dashimaki tamago and cakeamagoyaki, which is more custard-like. It can be found at sushi locations in Japan.
The most popular places to try out Tamagoyaki is Taiyaki.
19. Fried Fugu
Richly flavorful, fried fogu, also known as Fugu karaage, consists of chicken or fish that has been marinated in sake, soy sauce, salt, garlic and ginger. These ingredients are then coated in a mixture of flour and potato starch and then deep fried until they reach a golden brown color. This cooking style results in a soft and slightly chewy inside with a crispy crust on the outside.
The most popular places to try out Fried Fugu are Genpin Gion, Fukushin and Fugu.
Kushikatsu, also known as Kushiage, is a Japanese favorite that is made of skewered meat and vegetables that have been deep fried for a light and crisp delectably tasty treat. With its simplicity of ingredients, the options are almost endlessly customizable. This traditional Japanese dish is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
The most popular places to try out Kushikatsu are Ganzo Kushikatsu Daruma Dōtonbori and Kushikatsu Kushiya.
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