Kyoto prefecture is also known as the cultural and historical center of Japan. Bustling with countless traditional temples and shrines, gardens, geishas, festivals, home to 17 UNESCO world heritage sites and the origin of the ever so popular green tea, Kyoto definitely remains in the top 3 of anyone’s bucket list!
Anyway, when it comes to any travelling adventure, food always remains at the back of our minds! (well, of course!). So, with that in mind, I’ve gathered the top 5 foods you should definitely savour on your next trip to Kyoto. (Hope you’re taking notes…hehe).
Thin Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. What are we referring to? It’s none other than….drumroll*….Soba!
Yes! This noodle is highly well-loved more than you would think. It can be enjoyed both hot or cold, and can be found from a fast-food stall to the most expensive restaurants.
A warm dish of soba noodles topped off with a dried herring that’s been simmered in soy sauce, with a flavourful soy sauce broth gives you a delightful bowl of both sweet and savoury! This is Nishin Soba! Definitely a speciality of Kyoto you must try!
Don’t take this dish for granted for its plain looks, as its simplicity should not be underestimated. With multiple temples across the prefecture, this dish was adapted from shojin ryori, otherwise known as Buhhist cuisine which is mainly vegetarian, and thus makes it a super light and nourishing comfort food.
By using clean water and high quality soybeans, Yudofu is a traditional dish that melts right in your mouth at the first bite. It’s commonly boiled in water and konbu, which adds some umami flavour. When served, it is followed by a sauce (can be soy sauce, ponzu, sesame sauce etc.), and it’s finally garnished with some scallions. (let’s try it!)
The iconic omiyage (means souvenir) of Kyoto, this item is first steamed and then it can be baked or unbaked. The classic kind involves baking it to carry a cinnamon crunch taste. Made in a curved shape, they look almost like brown roof tiles, but the most distinct representation is that of the Japanese Koto.
However, in some cases, to make the triangular shaped confection that’s well loved, the steamed mochi can be rolled out and cut into little squares, which is called Nama-Yatsuhashi. At this stage, it can be enjoyed as is, or dive into the popular trend by having it with red bean paste (anko).
By folding the squares over some red bean paste, it is sealed off to form a neat triangular shape. The various colours are representative of their flavours such as cinnamon and matcha. (sweet delight!). Be sure to grab your omiyage before leaving Kyoto!
Known as the national drink of Japan, old sake breweries can still be found here at the former imperial capital. Sipping some sake along your travels while you enjoy Kyoto prefecture’s amazing delicacies
Sake production occurs mainly in Fushimi, with their natural spring water that gives us a refreshing and mild tasting sake. Characteristic to Kyoto, this soft water is of the highest quality for their traditional brewing process. You will definitely get an experience of a lifetime with their sake that’s richest in their levels of purity and taste!
Green Tea Desserts
Now of course, everyone is aware of the mass production of green tea in Shizuoka prefecture, but did you know that the birthplace of the first green tea plants was in this prefecture? Yes! Centuries ago, a buddhist monk returned from China with tea trees that were planted in Obuku, Uji region Kyoto.
Fast forward to the present, Matcha lovers visiting should not miss the chance to indulge in delectable green tea treats! (myself included).
Quite costly with high quality, Uji matcha is prized among the locals so of course, any treat is a match-a made in heaven. From creating soft cream, shaved ice (Kakigori), parfaits, jelly drinks to cakes, cookies and rice crackers (senbei). Let’s go on a matcha treats shopping spree!
Amazing isn’t it? Every prefecture has something to offer, and here were Kyoto’s. The creativity of a prefecture and the time it takes for them to show it within their cuisine is quite the attribute you look forward to when trying different foods. The time, effort and care it took for the locals to put in their dishes should be well enjoyed on your next visit! (yes!). So let’s appreciate these 5 amazing foods of Kyoto more in our travels. (let’s go!).