The ancient seat of Japan’s imperial court is now one of the country’s top tourist destinations. Kyoto is famous for its many temples, shrines, gardens, Geisha district, and other cultural landmarks. And what might be unbeknownst to many, it is also a culinary haven. From the finest and elaborate kaiseki cuisine to the delicious and simple Shojin-ryori, the city is a delightful place for food explorations.
This traditional cuisine is a multi-course fare that showcases Japanese aesthetics and grace. It is prepared using the freshest seasonal ingredients. Special care and attention is given in preparing the dishes to retain or enhance the ingredients’ natural flavors and tastes. But what makes kaiseki a sublime culinary experience is the blend of artistry and beauty in the presentation of delicious food that will make you want to savor every bite. The best places to go for a Kaiseki-ryōri experience are at Kyoto’s ryokans or at restaurants like Gion Karyo and Hyotei.
Kyo-wagashi or Kyoto sweets are traditional sweets, confections, and cakes. Kyoto’s sweet treats are delightful both to the eyes and taste buds. You can have your pick of delicious seasonal sweets and other confections. Indulge in your choice of beautifully-made and great-tasting treats with a serving of matcha or Japanese green tea. Head out to Gion for the finest sweets from shops like Kagizen Yoshifusa.
Shojin-ryori is a simple fare steeped in subtle elegance. This Buddhist cuisine is typically prepared with tofu and other seasonal ingredients. It does not use meat or any ingredients made from animal products. A temple stay in Kyoto is one of the best ways to enjoy an authentic shojin-ryori meal.
Street food at Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a famous attraction in Kyoto best known for its thousands of torii (traditional Japanese gates). But the stunning sights in this important Shinto shrine are not the only things that make it a great place to visit. The street food at the food stalls near the shrine gives more reason to enjoy the place. Some of the must-try eats include the grilled crab sticks, daifuku (mochi with fillings like matcha and topped with fresh strawberry), dango (sticky cakes glazed with a special sauce), grilled quails, okonomiyaki, sweet potato fries, taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry with sweet bean paste filling), takoyaki, and tofu steak (grilled tofu served with a savory sauce).
Tofu is one of Kyoto’s culinary prides. The city is known for its delicious tofu-based dishes. Yudofu is a dish made with tofu cooked in a hot broth.