Tsujiri Honten: Green Tea Paradise!
An exquisite place for those who like green tea deserts :) They have all kinds of sweets with green tea and the taste is amazing.
You will have to wait in line to get a table but every minute of waiting is worth it!
Ogawa Coffee: Nice Cafe
Ogawa Coffee is a small chain restaurant with its origins being here in Kyoto. This review is for the Sanjo location. I had passed by a few times and thought it looked nice from the outside but never bothered to go in. Finally, when passing by with friends, we decided to try it.
The cafe has a nice, classy feel and even the patrons were dressed a little nicer than we expected. We tried the waffles (a la mode), hot chocolate, and a special matcha drink. All of them were really good. The cocoa was surprisingly sweet and tasted even better than I expected. The waffles and ice cream were good, too. I didn't personally try the matcha drink, but my friend said it was also quite good. In the end, we were happy we stopped.
The place is kept very clean and the smoking section is upstairs, so non-smokers don't have to worry about smelling which I appreciate.Related to:
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.: Snacks at Kiyomizu-dera
After spending some time wandering around the temple complex we were keen for a break but didn’t want a large lunch. We spotted this little café beside the path leading down from the main temple area, and were pleased to see space on its shady terrace. The menu was only in Japanese but luckily had photos, though it was still in part a question of “pot-luck” as to what we would get! I saw someone nearby eating something that looked like vanilla ice cream with a fruit sauce, and peering at the photos I could see that it was probably a dish that came with the sweet red adzuki bean paste topping I’d had and liked at the Edo Tokyo Museum, so I chose that. The “ice cream” was in fact shaved ice; I had chosen kakigori, one of Japan's favourite summer sweets. It is served all over the country with a wide range of toppings including syrups and fruits. I really enjoyed this version and found it very refreshing on what was proving to be the hottest day of our trip. Phil had the same shaved ice but with a fruit sauce, while Chris had some gelatinous noodles in a soy/wasabi based sauce, having opted for what seemed to be the only savoury item on the menu.
I didn’t note the price but it was very good value – a few hundred yen each, I believe. The staff were friendly and helpful, and it was here that we had our best demonstration of the Japanese non-tipping culture. When we sat down Chris noticed a small coin on the bench next to him – a single yen, worth about half a penny or about one cent. He left it lying there, but when we departed the café a waitress ran after us to give him back the coin she thought he had left in error!
After our snack we left the temple area to explore the surrounding streets of the Higashiyama area.
Kobe Pasta and Sweets ?: When you need a change from Japanese ...
While enjoying Japanese cuisine is a major and pleasurable part of any trip here, you may well find, as we did, that sooner or later you fancy a change. Italian restaurants are very popular here (due to the similarity between pasta and noodles it seems) and you'll find them in most cities. In Kyoto this urge for something different hit us, and we headed to the "restaurant floor" of the Yodobashi store right by our hotel in search of pasta. We found it in this, one of a number of restaurants strung out along a sort of indoor street on the sixth floor.
There was an English menu of sorts and our waitress also spoke just enough words to be able to advise us that one of the set meals (here in Japan known as "sets") would offer us good value as we could pay a single price for our pasta dish and beer. Chris chose a prosciutto and cheese sauce for his spaghetti while I went for salmon and spinach. The dishes are available as small, medium or large – and somewhat surprisingly, all sizes cost the same! We also got something they call a "bucket", which is simply a baguette with e flavoured butter (we had basil) served rather incongruously in a beer stein!
Our medium dishes were a good size. The pasta was cooked fairly well (not too soft) and the sauces pleasant enough, if unremarkable. The beer washed it all down nicely and there was nothing to complain of in a bill of 3,080¥.
By the way. I’m not completely sure that "pasta and sweets" is its real name, but as it appears prominently on the sign outside, I figured it would help you identify it even if incorrect! Google Translate suggests “Kobe Pasta and Suites” as a translation of the website below but the shop sign clearly states “Sweets” which seems more likely!
After dinner here, and a bit of late-night shopping in Yodobashi (Chris needed a new memory card), we headed across the road to explore Kyoto Station.
Saga-Tofu Ine Restaurant - Arashiyama
Saga-Tofu Ine is the name of a Japanese tofu restaurant located in western Kyoto's Arashiyama area. One of the nicer restaurants in the area, it has a fancy downstairs dining area next to an indoor-outdoor koi pond, an upstairs dining room with views of the mountains, and a food preparation area along the street where you can watch the cooks make tofu dishes.
I selected the Teoke Kumiage Yuba Set (1,580 Yen), and Laura chose the Nonomiya Set (1,890 Yen). The Teoke Set, the smaller of the two, featured a bamboo tub filled with kumiage yuba (thick soy milk skin) in a hearty soy milk soup stock with wonderful ginger sauce, along sides of pickled vegetables, osumashi soup with gluten, rice with grains, and a few kinds of mochi. For perhaps the first time in Japan, I had a meal with several items I really didn't like, including some of the gluten dishes, one of the sauces for the yuba soup, and some of the toppings on the mochi.
Laura really enjoyed her Nonomiya Set, which featured yudofu, or boiled tofu. It also came with the kumiagi yuba, a fried tofu fritter, a steamed tofu and egg custard, and the same the rice, mochi, and pickles in my meal. I thought the food was average, but Laura raved about it. I'd rather not pay 1,500 to 2,000 Yen for a vegetarian dish.
The restaurant is located just a short walk north of the Randen tram line's Arashiyama Station, and directly across from the entrance to the bamboo forest.
Sushi sho Otowa - Gion
Sushi sho Otowa is a large sushi shop just a block from the river in Gion, north of Shijo-dori. The company has about 15 total sushi restaurants.
We went here on the advice of a local bar owner, though I have to admit, I'm not positive this was the sushi restaurant he recommended, but it's where we ended up. The big sushi chef was friendly and attentive, making sure we were happy with our food, even replacing a piece of sushi one of us didn't particularly enjoy.
We had a wide variety of nigiri including tuna, fatty tuna, two types of eel, shrimp, mackerel, salmon and more. Pretty good food, but a bit expensive at about 2,500 to 3,000 Yen per person.
Iroha Karuta Honten - Pontocho, Central Kyoto
Iroha Karuta Honten is a big Japanese restaurant located in the Hanamachi district of Pontocho in Central Kyoto. We stopped here due to its wide variety of foods including sushi, yakitori, okonomiyaki, and other dishes.
We sat at a big table for six in the far back corner of the restaurant. After quickly scanning the menu, we decided on a variety of foods including sake, yakisoba, okonomiyaki, a selection of sashimi, a vegetable stir fry, edamame, pork and kimchi, and two different yakitori selections (including chicken and leeks, chicken skins, beef, cheese wrapped in bacon, chicken hearts, and ground beef).
The food was pretty good, especially the yakisoba, the stir fry and the yakitori. The okonomiyaki was not very good.
Our bill was around 8,000 Yen for plenty of food for four people.
Chinese Yakuzen dim sum - Nishiki Market
In Nishi Market in Central Kyoto, there is a small Chinese dim sum shop called Yakuzen. It sells dim sum on a stick to go from the front of the shop, and they have a sit down restaurant upstairs. We stopped by here for a few pieces of dim sum on a stick while we walked through the market. Each piece was abut 400 Yen, and the ingredients included cuttlefish, sweet potatoes, lotus root, fish, and even fruit.
A nice, quick stop for a snack in Nishiki!
Happy Pie/Happy Bicycle - Higashiyama
Happy Pie/Happy Bicycle is an oddly named restaurant and gift shop located just up the hill from Yasaka Pagoda in eastern Kyoto's historic Higashiyama neighborhood. The name of the little shop might be unusual, but it is fitting since they sell only meat pies and small bicycle models.
The small restaurant on the left side of the building sells only Kiwi's Pie brand, Australian-style meat pies. These small, circular creations are basically like sandwiches filled with meat or vegetables and lightly baked with a flaky, crispy crust. We tried their traditional meat pie and a shepherds pie, for around 500 Yen each. I also had a Corona beer for another 500 Yen, we sat on the back patio and enjoyed the fresh air.
The shop is located opposite of Yasaka Pagoda at the southern end of Higashiyama.
Cocoyanen - Potoncho, Kyoto
Cocoyanen is a restaurant on Kiyamachi Road in the Pontocho area of Kyoto. The small restaurant, part of a larger regional chain, specializes in okonomiyaki, and they have a few other local specialties like takoyaki and yakisoba. The most unique feature of the restaurant are the iron grills, called teppan, built into the tables where you complete the cooking of your food.
I started with a medium Suntory draft beer for 504 Yen, then we chose the "Favorite Mix" Okonomiyaki, which incorporated pork, squid, shrimp and scallops for 924 Yen. We also had an order of pork and kimchi yakisoba, for the same price.
Falafel Garden: Middle Eastern
Falafel Garden is a small restaurant near Imadegawa Station. They serve falafel pitas, chicken kabab pitas, chicken kabab bowls, chicken kabab plates, and falafel plates as their main dishes. If you are (or are with a) vegan, the pita falafel is vegan. The prices are all very reasonable, the pitas are 550 yen (chicken) and 520 yen (falafel), and the plates are 900 yen (chicken) and 800 yen (falafel).
They also have some side dishes, as well as brownies and baklava.
The restaurant is small inside, with just a few tables but they do take-out, so many people order the pitas to go.Related to:
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Iyemon: The Faces of Iyemon
Iyemon Salon is rather unique. It is a tea and lunchroom during the day, as well as a craft gallery and kimono exhibition are upstairs. In the evening it serves dinner with a full bar. Its multi-focus space is the result of being on the first two floor of a kimono company:)
Eating here is a pleasure, whether for lunch or dinner, but don't neglect the shop and kimono gallery as they are well worth your while.
Favorite Dish: I had curry and rice with Japanese pickles, called カレー in Japanese. The Japanese curry is a bit milder and sweeter than we normally find in an Indian restaurant and quite pleasant.
Yachiyo Restaurant: Delicious Traditional Kyoto Cuisine
While the specialty of this restaurant is "silken tofu", the meal we were served was much more than that. I don't know the prices as the meal was included in our tour, but on the whole Kyoto is less expensive than Tokyo.
Favorite Dish: The tuna and yellowtail sashimi. It was very fresh and toothsome.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Somushi: A Korean Teahouse
Somushi is a Teahouse and as such serves tea and a few small set meals. It is owned by an artist whose fabric works are displayed therein. We sat at the rough wood counter. They didn't speak English, but they had a translated menu. While we waited for our dinner we looked at scrapbooks of the artist's work. It was a very lovely and unique experience.
Favorite Dish: I had the vegetarian meal [pictured], which was very delicious and tasty. My tea was ginger-pomegranate.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Paris 21: French Food
Paris 21 is a French restaurant located in the Teramachi shopping area. The menu is slightly different each month, but they seem to always have salad, pizza, pasta, and their delicious beef steak and french fries. The dish consists of french fries topped with beef steak and gravy with some spicy mustard on the side.
As you would expect from a French-themed restaurant, they do serve alcohol; beer, wine, whiskey, and cocktails.
The ambience is nice and classy and although you can certainly find cheaper places to eat, the price for the food isn't bad, although if you order alcohol you'll pay significantly more.Related to:
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