Monday, August 30, 2010

Japan #16 – Kyoto

We spent around 4 days in Kyoto.
I had marked down a few food related places that I wanted to check out in Kyoto – the Daimaru department store food floor and Nishiki food market. One my first day in Kyoto while just wandering around the streets near our hostel, I stumbled across these places without any intention of going there yet…
Nishiki food market
I was walking through a shopping arcade and then turned the corner into this lane that was lined with many little stalls, it was some sort of food market and I looked up at the signs and found that I had somehow wondered into the Nishiki Market. Nishiki Market is a narrow, shopping street, lined by more than one hundred shops selling various kinds of fresh and processed foods including many Kyoto specialties, such as pickles, Japanese sweets, dried food, sushi, and fresh seafood and vegetables are sold. Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", Nishiki Market has a history of several centuries, and many stores have been operated by the same families for generations. I was amazed at all the different produce for sale, I wish that I could have purchased some of the food stuffs but I would not have been able to get it through customs in Australia.
Daimaru Food Floor
A foodies paradise in Japan are the food floors of Department stores (just imagine the ground floor food section of David Jones and times by 50). There are little food counters everywhere with vendors yelling out trying to sell their products.
Daimaru is one of the biggest food floors in Kyoto with a wide range of Western delicacies, pastries and chocolates, as well as many of Kyoto's specialty foods such as tofu, fu (wheat gluten), yuba (tofu skin), and beautiful vegetables, both fresh and pickled. There was also a wine department, a fish market and bakeries.
Map of Daimaru food floor
Mumokuteki Café
A real find in Kyoto was finding a 100% vegetarian café which was above a clothing store. My fellow travellers were pescetarians (vegetarians who eat seafood) so we always ate at places which catered for vegetarians. We saw a sign out the front which said there was no animal products used, no milk and no eggs either. 
Ninja Restaurant
A trip to Japan would not feel complete without checking out a novelty restaurant. In Kyoto we had dinner at a Ninja restaurant ( During dinner a Ninja came out and performed some magic tricks for us, basically a few card tricks and juggling. Simple tricks but it was still very entertaining and he juggled with swords which isn’t an easy thing to do… so respect. 
Edible ninja weapons

The food was average to say the least but I guess this is what you have to expect at a novelty restaurant, it’s more about the experience/entertainment rather than the food.
The highlight of my meal was having really cute frog icecream for desert.
Ganko Takasegawa-Nijoen
Karen’s Japanese friend Eriko took us to one of the best Japanese restaurants in Kyoto – Ganko Takasegawa-Nijoen. The restaurant had a beautiful Japanese garden. 

Massive plastic food display!

The Japanese garden surrounding the restaurant

It was a traditional Japanese dining experience we had to take our shoes off and put them in lockers.
Dinner is served...between 6 people we consumed 9 dishes
Deserts all containing tofu
Tofu cheesecake
Tofu donuts
Tofu icecream
Inoda Coffee
One thing that we found in Japan was the lack of good coffee around. There were heaps of franchises around like Starbucks and Doutour, and a lot of places don’t even have a proper expresso machine. Karen’s friend Eriko recommended that we check out Inoda Coffee which serves the best coffee in Kyoto. Eriko told us that she has a friend who lives in Osaka who would travel to Kyoto to buy Inoda coffee beans. 

The coffee was A+

I guess you can tell that the coffee is good when a guy who drives a lamborghini has a drink here, he’s obviously got taste!

1 comment:

  1. .....fighting through the jealousy to write this........
    Wow. Kyoto is on the top of my places to visit when I am next in Japan, and that day cannot come soon enough.
    That frog ice cream is awesome.
    Customs protecting our borders through the refusal of deliciousness into the country is not.