The former capital of Japan, Kyoto offers a rich culinary tradition and an experience to remember. The local food culture is diverse because of the existence of some traditional restaurants and some fusion places. Both of them have their own charm and specialty because experimentation is the key. If one is looking into the past for inspiration, the other one might be experimenting with something new.
But both of them together make Kyoto food a renowned one. Kyoto has a rich tradition and culture, which is why it still beholds many traditional cuisines. These food types are prepared with a simple yet attractive and elegant presentation. Hereby, we have listed some of the most special foods you will find in Kyoto that should not be missed. Their taste will delight you to the core!
A multi-course haute cuisine, this one is a formal meal. It is not just one dish. It involves a series of dishes served one by one. Kaiseki Ryori includes the serving of one soup bowl along with three plates of main servings. After that, the dessert is also served.
Now this one might look like an elaborated and painstaking task but it is not. It is served by keeping in mind simplicity and elegance. It majorly makes use of local ingredients and light flavors. Now, this cuisine can be a bit expensive because of a series of meals involved but the price will be worth every penny.
Grab it at Gion Karyo which is one of the more accessible kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto.
Shojin Ryori – A Traditional Buddha’s delight
Another dish that is linked to the traditions is this Shojin Ryori. According to history, this dish was traditionally eaten by monks who weren’t supposed to eat meat, fish, onion, and garlic. That is why this is vegetarian cuisine. It is prepared using soybean-based foods like tofu, Koya-tofu, and Natto which are fermented soybeans. The use of soybeans balances the entire nutritional system of the body. All these are mixed with the vegetables and are then cooked firmly.
You will find some of the best Shojin Ryori in the Buddhist temples. Also, what makes this dish even more special is the use of five colors- red, green, white, black, and yellow. They represent the five elements of Japanese Buddhism- fire, wood, metal, water, and earth.
Grab this one at Shigetsu inside the grounds of Tenryu-Ji Temple.
Yudofu and Yuba
Prepared using only three ingredients—water, kombu seaweed for flavoring, and silken tofu, Yudofu is a representation of the superior quality of Tofu. Once you eat it, you will realize that it does not require any heavy seasoning because the texture is itself very creamy. The ingredients are cooked together in a thick hot pot dish and the hot tofu is then served with a light soy sauce-based with sesame seeds.
Yuba, on the other hand, is also a tofu dish that is made from the top layer of soy milk. When soy milk is heated, this top layer is formed. Yuba has a light soybean flavor and a soft texture. Eat this one with soy sauce or some freshly grated wasabi.
Yodofu Sagano is a great place for both the tofu dishes.
Wagashi is the name given to all the Japanese sweets. With all these main course meals and snacks, you should not miss out on the traditional dessert cuisines. Kyo-Gashi is the traditional Japanese sweet that is prepared to be enjoyed with tea. It is not just a regular sweet. The desserts in Kyoto are crafted in different shapes like flowers and leaves for a sense of attractiveness. The best thing about this is that they are inspired by Japanese poetry. Kyo-Gashi is said to delight your eyes, mouth, and ears.
Grab it in Kagizen Yoshifusa, which is a traditional sweet shop in the Gion region.