Last week, we traveled to Kyoto, Japan, and we would like to share our culinary and travel experience. Linked below are also the restaurants that we loved, and we definitely recommend them to anyone planning to visit Kyoto. We stayed at a Ryokan (旅館), which was a traditional Japanese inn, and we were able to learn a lot about the culture and history of Kyoto. We hope you enjoy this snapshot of the whole trip!
Kyoto Style Japanese Breakfast
Let’s start off by saying that a traditional Kyoto Style Japanese Breakfast is very different to a typical breakfast that you are probably accustomed to eating at home. Eating this hearty meal would definitely give you enough energy to last until 2:00 in the afternoon, perfect for if you’re out sightseeing and visiting tourist attractions. Since we stayed at a Ryokan, we were able to enjoy the privilege of eating a Japanese traditional breakfast every morning!
We were staying in the Gion district, which still preserves the traditional atmosphere of Kyoto. It became a historical scenery preservation site in 1976, and to this day still remains as one of the best preserved cultural areas of Japan. The Gion district was home to Maikos and Geishas, both of which are traditional cultural icons of Japan. The Ryokan that we were staying in dates back to 100 years ago, during the Edo Period (1600 – 1868), and it used to be where the Maikos trained, lived and worked.
Now let’s get to the food!Yes, this is how big a traditional Japanese breakfast is. Firstly, in the top right hand corner, you can see a hotpot. The hot pot had a soya milk broth and was filled with tofu, bean curd and shimeji mushrooms. Next to it, is a grilled fish grilled with soya sauce and sesame. In the center tray of the picture, we have some dipping sauce for the hotpot tofu, some vegetarian Japanese monk’s food, Japanese free-range eggs omelette (a popular dish), some Japanese pickles and miso soup. On the bottom left, we have a bowl of rice, common to most Asian cuisines.
Since Kyoto is known for the temples with 1600 buddhist temples, they definitely have some very delicious monk’s delicacy. The omelette was light and fluffy, cooked by a professional who had been working at the Ryokan for around 40 years! It was cooked in a special broth, and we could see the million layers of egg; it just goes to show how much work was put into making it. The pickles are a very important part of Japanese cuisine, so important that it is always served alongside the main meal. Here are the Japanese Condiments that they served alongside the time-honored breakfast. In the teapot, we have some soya sauce. Then in the centre we have Umeboshi, which are Japanese pickled plums. The Japanese love it for their sweet but salty and sour taste. Then on the right we have 2 kinds of rice toppings, which are mixed into the rice before consumption.
Restaurant Recommendations (some restaurants do not have websites unfortunately):
Kaneyo Eel Restaurant: This restaurant is famous for it’s long loved grilled eel dishes. The restaurant first opened in the Taisho period (1912 – 1926), and it still retains a very traditional atmosphere. Below, is a rice dish served with charcoal grilled eel and topped with a tasty soya sauce glaze. This eel is very traditional to Kyoto, as Kyoto eels are grilled whereas Tokyo eels are first boiled, then grilled.
Honke Owariya: This is, without a doubt, the BEST soba noodle restaurant in Kyoto! Opened in 1495, this restaurant’s culinary legacy even reached the imperial palace in previous eras. Hot and cold soba are both served, and they charge a very affordable price for a dish of its quality. The soba are cooked in tradition Kyoto well water, making the noodles much more fragrant. In the dipping sauce nori is used, and the amazing tempura are made using local Kyoto vegetables. This is a great place to eat lunch or dinner.
Pontocho Kappa: Located in the most beautiful and atmospheric alley of Kyoto, this sushi restaurant is definitly a great choice. Maiko are also often seen strolling these alleyways. The sushi is made from the freshest and best grade fish, and the prices are affordable. Customers are seated at the bar table, where you can see the chef’s prepare your sushi after you place an order. I would certainly recommend the conger, tuna and crab sushi.