Kyoto Food Diary Part 1

Kyoto is the old capital of Japan, and lots of classical Japanese architecture has survived in the city, which is evident if you visit. These older buildings give Kyoto a character no longer available in the rest of Japan, so it’s a place well worth visiting. If you look at a map of Kyoto, you’d notice the roads are laid out like a lattice in the urban parts of the city. In this two part blog entry, I’ll show off some of the places I went when I was in Kyoto.

Inoda Coffee

For breakfast, I went to Inoda Coffee; a famous traditional coffee shop in Japan.

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 Est. 1940

Est. 1940

Coffee was introduced to Japan in the 1800s by Dutch traders, and was a luxury for the wealthy for a long time. Traditional Cafes in Japan are quite different from European and American cafes, as they’re set up to provide a small number of customers with a luxurious experience; cafe-goers were offered Coffee or black tea (both new things in Japan during the 1800s), along with tobacco, newspapers, and foreign food (such as pasta and curry). This was in start contrast to the tea-houses of old, which served cheap traditional Japanese tea and snacks, that were more like pubs. Inoda coffee is one such traditional cafe chain, with a small number of stores spread across Japan.

 “京の朝食” translating into “A Kyoto breakfast”

“京の朝食” translating into “A Kyoto breakfast”

 Their famous Kyoto breakfast draws in customers early in the morning.

Their famous Kyoto breakfast draws in customers early in the morning.

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Inoda’s signature blend is called “Arabian Pearl”, a well balanced blend, and is served with milk and sugar already mixed in. This is because the founder noticed that if customers came in with a friend and ordered coffee, they would often talk for too long, and the coffee would get too cold to dissolve sugar properly.

 Their breakfast comprises of a salad, ham, potato salad, scrambled eggs, and of course, coffee.

Their breakfast comprises of a salad, ham, potato salad, scrambled eggs, and of course, coffee.

If you’re ever in Kyoto, it might be worth visiting here for breakfast. Inoda Coffee has a posh atmosphere not usually found in a cafe, thanks to the coffee heritage in Japan.

 

Kyoto style Udon noodles at Uneno

Traditional Kyoto-style udon is served with bonito and kelp stock broth. My wife loves udon so we stopped by a famous udon restaurant.

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This “Hiyashi-Udon” is served cold with a topping of deep-fried cherry shrimp, with broth on the side.

 From left to right: Ichimi (Chili Powder), Shichimi (7 spice mix), Sansho (a mild pepper with citrus notes).

From left to right: Ichimi (Chili Powder), Shichimi (7 spice mix), Sansho (a mild pepper with citrus notes).

 A “Kitsune-Udon” (Fox Udon), is an udon served with fried tofu. The name is derived from the legend that the fox gods like fried tofu.

A “Kitsune-Udon” (Fox Udon), is an udon served with fried tofu. The name is derived from the legend that the fox gods like fried tofu.

 

The local supermarket “Fresco”.

I visited a local supermarket to see what kind of vegetables the locals were eating here in Kyoto, as there is a reputation in Japan that people in Kyoto eat better than others.

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The thing that caught my eye were the huge “Kujo-Negi” spring onions. These spring onions are commonly seen served with noodles (like the udon above) and are often pickled.

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These small “Mansakuji” peppers aren’t too spicy, and are often found in stews. They’re named after a Buddhist temple that is famous for making a variety of dishes out of them.

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Raw wasabi roots, harvested on the foothills of Mt. Fuji, are available here too. Most people use the wasabi paste you can get in a tube, so you don’t see raw wasabi that often.

Japanese Starbucks on Sanjyo-Oohashi Street.

Wherever you go, in most developed countries, you can find a Starbucks. The Starbucks on Sanjyo-Oohashi, is on the bank of the Kamo river, and has a decent view. It was summer, so there was a limited edition iced drink available. The special drink is the one on the left, which is a roast tea latte with tea flavoured jelly sticks inside. The drink on the right is a Matcha latte, which isn’t as sweet as the Matcha lattes you can get in the west.

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In the next part I’ll introduce the Nishiki Market and a Bento store.

Narihito MatsunagaComment