On a recent drive which took me from Fukui Prefecture to Tottori Prefecture for our annual crab pilgrimage, we stopped at the Tore Tore fish market in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture. The fish market is a touristy affair and we decided to head out to find some other food. On the way out of the parking, we spotted a hand-painted sign which promised halal food from Bangladesh. The cul-de-sac where we saw the sign led to a flight of stairs. We then proceeded to navigate a very narrow street which runs parallel to route 175 where we caught a glimpse of the restaurant but could not figure out how to get to the small street where it was located. After cutting through a parking lot, we ended up at Maa.
Kaikado has been selling hand crafted chazutsu or Japanese tea caddies since 1875 . In plain English, a tea caddy is pretty much a can, but the craftmanship at Kaikado is pretty amazing and this is not your average tea or coffee can. Kaidado caddies are made in Kyoto.
As we stood in front of Kanei soba restaurant a solid 40 min before the opening, a man asked us if this was a soba shop and I wondered the same thing. Kanei is located a short distance from the center of Kyoto in a residential area and it looks just like a regular house with no sign. The location of Kanei is not exactly a secret since it earned a star in the Kyoto Michelin guide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!