I’ve been in Japan for 4 years and my tiny window on the outside foodie world has been a constant source of day dreaming about meals I can’t possibly eat. Blood, Bones & Butter written by the American chef Gabrielle Hamilton falls into this category of sweet foodie torture since I can’t possibly eat at Prune, her restaurant in NYC.
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If you ever visited the food section of a Japanese department store, you might have been overwhelmed by the impressive amount of Japanese sweets and like me, you might not have any ideas what they taste like.
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Japanese confectionery is a world of its own and Toraya seem to be holding a special place in the hierarchy of high end sweet makers. Before coming to Japan, the only Japanese sweet I knew were the Pocky sold at a Korean import shop. I think Toraya was one of the first quality wagashi I tried.
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Coffee Smart which is located on Teramachi in the center of Kyoto is brilliantly frozen in the past. If you can’t find a time machine, well you could always drink a cup of coffee at Coffee Smart, an establishment that goes back to 1932.
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On my second day of walking around Kyoto, I was ready to give up and pass out in my hotel room when my wife suggested we go out and eat udon. UDON!!! Udon in Kyoto! Really? While udon might not be Kyoto’s specialty,?yet my visit to Okakita udon shop was worth crossing half the city.
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I got a special place in my heart for food market, so I woke up at 5 AM on a grey Sunday morning and drove to Okayama City to try the monthly market held by the riverside right behind the Okayama Prefectural Office. Kyobashi Asa Ichi is held on the first Sunday of the month while the Kurashiki morning market is held on the third.
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Caffe Verdi is a little bit out of the way but you get the distinct feeling when you get there that it’s actually a place for the locals to enjoy a really good cup of coffee. Kyoto is packed with coffee shops and among all these choices, I decided to go for the one that was among the highest ranked on the “tabelog” website.
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Hanbey Fu restaurant is without any doubt the biggest gastronomical surprise I had in Kyoto. Fu or wheat gluten has been used in shojin ryori (traditional vegetarian devotional food) for hundred of years, but Hanbey Fu takes fu to another level of sophistication.
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Arashiyama in the Western part of Kyoto is part tourist hell and part pure beauty. The river, the mountain, the bamboo forest and the amazing Tenryu-ji and its garden makes it a very special place to visit. It is also the place I came to try my first real Kyoto food at Shoraian, a restaurant which specializes in tofu.
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In a town famous for kaiseki and fancy food, Dai-Ichi Asahi ramen is a popular ramen shop with the locals and it’s conveniently located only a few minutes from JR Kyoto station.
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We arrived at Uji station at 10h50 and pretty much sprinted across the street to Nakamura tea shop to find that people were already waiting in line (the shop opens at 11h). In a city famous for tea, the most famous tea shop in town is a hell of a busy place. Is it worth the run? You bet!
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Tamashima is right across the river from where I live and when I heard about Shittora, a Korean restaurant, I didn’t wait too long to go and try it. I always appreciate when I get suggestions online and this one turned out to be a good one.
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