Food and Dining, Kyoto
Most Japanese smoke and they don't really have non-smoking areas designated at restaurants. If you are allergic to smoke and if you have asthma, it is best for you to choose a restaurant that is airy or choose a table close to the door or window where there is ventilation.
I sat on a table close to smokers and they whole time, I was eating - I was also feeling sick because of the heavy smoke going to my eyes and worst breathing it!
The Japanese people are heavy smokers. You will see them smoking all the time. They have places to smoke at parking lots, hotels, etc. but at restaurants, they don't have designated areas...
Unique Suggestions: Make sure that you choose a table closest to where the ventilation is. Otherwise, you won't be able to enjoy your good meal because of the cigarette's smoke!
Fun Alternatives: I don't really have an alternative besides asking the smoker to stop smoking- politely that is. However, it is best to just choose a restaurant and check it out first, then get in and choose a table closest to the open window for ventilation!
Make sure to plan ahead of time and have reservation at a hotel of your choice. We didn't have plans to go to Kyoto so I didn't have a hotel reservation. It is really difficult to find a hotel in Kyoto. We arrived in Kyoto at 7 am in the morning and walked to the hotel closest to the Kyoto station. When we got there, we were told that the hotels are fully-booked and we have to wait until 3 pm to be able to check in. We were in the bus for 10 hours and we were so desperate to take a shower, brush our teeth or just plainly change our clothes!
Unique Suggestions: Make sure to have a good hotel reservation before you get to Kyoto!
If you didn't have a reservation, request from the hotel staff if you can leave your belongings to their safety locker and come back at 3 pm and check in. At least, you have time to go out and eat or do some exploring before 3 pm.
Make sure to get your passport, money and other valuable items. I know that the staff are honest but it is best to take your valuables with you. Don't bring the heavy stuff items.
Fun Alternatives: Hang out at the hotel or leave your belongings at the hotel after you paid for your reservation. They don't accept your luggages to be left behind if you don't have reservation and paid in advance.
Ask information at the Kyoto Station what would be your best alternative if you don't like to go hang out at the hotel, which is a waste of time.
If you are a picky eater, make sure to point the food at the window gallery if you wanted a particular food. Don't choose the food that you don't know how it looks like or taste like. The reason why? You end up wasting your money!
I am not a picky eater but still, there are some food that are new to me especially when I am travelling. My stomach can't handle anything that has lactose on it. I won't be able to enjoy my trip if the whole time I will be spending my precious time in a bathroom or being miserable from stomach ache!
I pick and choose the food that I see a lot of people are eating. I just ask the waitress: I want that kind of food they are eating. Or, something...
In Kyoto, they have displays of different food. They look really good on the window - look like real food but they are made of plastic. They can imitate the real color of the food!
So, enjoy your trip by eating the food that your stomach can handle! Also, choose the food that you are already used to so you won't be wasting the food and your money to the drain!
Unique Suggestions: Ask questions, ask around the people in the restaurant what is the especialty of the restaurant even before sitting down. It is best to ask the locals...
Fun Alternatives: Ask the servers what is the most popular food ordered at the restaurant. Don't ask, what is the most delicious food they serve. It might not be delicious to you but delicious to them! So, it is best to ask the most popular food ordered...
we visited this rather cool restaurant in town for dinner last night. it seemed to be everyones favourite place to eat. a little bit on the expensive side for me i thought, but well- good food and nice ambience- hmm, why not...
3 steps into the restaurant- one of the waiters rushed towards us with a little piece of paper, on which was written ` we have a system of tips here, please pay 300yen extra' ...huh?? well- we were tired from a reasonably long walk thru town and were right here at the reataurant- hmm- ok.
step two-- led to a nice seating area- and offered the menu- scroll scroll scroll... enter waiter again- `what would you like to drink?'; husain- hmm- nothing; waiter-`but we have a system here- you HAVE TO order a drink' HUH??? - would i now be forced to go to the bathroom also? well there could be a system you know...
much debate- all in japanese- god help someone who cant speak the language and who has to argue here...
mercifully though, the food was quite nice. albeit i needed to grab a snack later coz it was not quite a filling meal even so.
Unique Suggestions: go with someone who can converse in japanese, if you cant speak the language yourself. the menu is in japanese too- that dosent help does it? jitka (j-san) did all the firefighting here...
There is one on every corner... literally! Mc Donald's on the corner of Karasuma and Marutamachi streets. The Imperial Palace, being a major tourist drawcard has one at each of its four corners, apart from Kawaramachi and Marutamachi streets.
Fun Alternatives: If you must eat a burger, have a Mos Burger instead! There is one Mos Burger shop just a little west of Karasuma and Imedegawa streets on the south side of Imadegawa, so maybe worth dropping by after visiting the Imperial Palace!? Just DON'T go to McDonald's accross the road!!