Calling all foodies! If you're ever in Kyoto, we have highlighted the tastiest dishes you must try and the best restaurants that serve them!
This hotspot is known for having one of the longest lines in all of Kyoto, and for good reason. It is recommended that you book way in advance if you plan on dining here. AWOMB offers a very unique sushi experience and has a deconstructed sushi platter on the menu that comes with its own set of instructions on how to create and then enjoy. This special is known as Teori Sushi (hand-rolled sushi). When ordering this dish, you are allowed to choose from a variety of ingredients, which you will place over sushi rice and then wrap with nori seaweed to create your personalized sushi. You also have the option of adding a range of colorful spices and condiments for extra flavor. Enjoy all combinations of the various textures and flavors in AWOMB’s bright and cozy restaurant atmosphere. This sushi experience will be a highlight in your Kyoto memories.
For after-dinner sweets and a calming atmosphere, head to the peaceful cafe known as Saryo Suisen. It’s famous for its green tea parfaits and 3D matcha latte art, so get ready for a sugar high. The food art creations are so cute that you won’t want to eat/drink them! At around 1,180 Japanese Yen or the equivalence of $10.60 USD, you can receive a huge portion (big enough for two people) of a green tea parfait consisting of mochi balls, green tea ice cream, warabi mochi, adzuki red bead, dorayaki and a green tea cake. You may need to loosen your belt after this one.
For the best soba in all of Kyoto, hit up Honke Owariya. For those who are not familiar with soba, it is primarily Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. When ordering this dish at Honke Owariya, it is served with a platter of eight different toppings! Some options include wasabi, sesame seeds, seaweed, radish, mushrooms, Japanese leeks, omelet, and shrimp tempura. Located in an old wooden building, this atmosphere is also very popular with locals as well. Turning 554 years old in 2019, this restaurant is still serving every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the exception of January 1st and 2nd when it is closed. Most seating in the restaurant is on tatami mat floors, so this is not the greatest spot for those with knee problems.
This one’s for all the Kyoto-bound vegetarians! Biotei’s name in Japanese is びお亭. This cramped restaurant has been around for over 30 years and is located up a spiral staircase, right in the middle of downtown. The tight seating is made up for by the eatery’s fresh, high-quality ingredients served in dishes such as black seaweed salad, deep-fried crumbled tofu, miso, pickles, and (of course) rice. None of the dishes served contain any food additives or artificial seasoning. Take note of their hours of operation of 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., from Tuesday through Saturday, with the exception of national holidays. If you are in town for the annual Gion Festival (July 1-31), Biotei is conveniently located in the heart of all of the festival’s parades and parties.
If you enjoy your Biotei experience, you can also check out Ohara Sanso, Veg Out, and Mumokuteki Cafe for more vegan/vegetarian eats.
Tempura is a traditional Japanese dish that usually consists of battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables. And everyone can agree that Yoshikawa Tempura is the place in Kyoto to experience this delicious dish. With reputations of great service and non-greasy tempura, this is a must-dine establishment. With operations running since 1952, this stunning old wooden building is located in central Kyoto around a sublime Japanese garden. Dinners at Yoshikawa are usually served in private tatami mat rooms, and lunches have customers seated at the counter in view of the tempura chefs cooking away. Yoshikawa is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
It’s very rare to come across someone who doesn’t enjoy ramen. Knowing this helps to explain how since 1995, Ippudo Ramen has expanded its doors across Japan, Singapore, United States, and the U.K. When looking for the Kyoto location, you can find it right near Karasuma Station. Ippudo opens at 11 a.m. and remains open until 3 a.m. before opening up again the next day. The most popular dish is the pork ramen with five different types of hot peppers and ranges between $7-8 USD per serving. Bring some yen with you as this restaurant does not accept credit cards as a method of payment.
This place takes its udon noodles seriously! Here, you can order your thick wheat flour noodles here in either cold or hot broth. This popular spot offers comfortable counter seats for solo diners, tatami seating downstairs, table seating upstairs for the less flexible, friendly staff, and menus translated into English. Be prepared to wait in line for this meal, but trust us — it’ll be worth it! Omen is conveniently located near the Ginkaku-ji (the silver temple) and the Philosopher's path.
Giro Giro Hitoshina
Giro Giro Hitoshina offers a spin on kaiseki with a multi-course dinner that follows the conventions and structure of traditional Kyoto cuisine — but without the formality and elaboration, which will save you some extra yen. Take in each of the eight courses all the way from the appetizer tray and through dessert. This meal comes at an unbelievable value being placed at ¥3,680 per person, or around $34 USD. Book well in advance to sit at the counter where you can interact with the chefs preparing your meal (it’s unquestionably the best seat in the house).
Now you are all set to enjoy these recommendations when you next find your belly in Kyoto! Comment below to tell us which one you are most excited to try.
Post written by: Kirsten Cusack, @kirqsak