Kyoto Specialties You Shouldn’t Miss On Your Food Trip

Kyoto offers you not only rich cultural experiences but also a unique culinary adventure. Whether you are visiting classic tourist attractions or taking a seaside day tour, you will find Kyoto local cuisines in both sophisticated and casual spaces. 

Here are some of the most delectable dishes Kyoto has to offer:


Obanzai Ryori

Known to have originated from Kyoto, Obanzai is mainly fresh vegetables and seafood. This Japanese homestyle cooking can be found in several restaurants in Kyoto. It is usually served with rice, soup, the main dish, and side dishes.




Made of meat and vegetables from Kansai, coated with breadcrumbs (panko), and deep-fried, Kushikatsu is something you can enjoy for lunch. The vegetables could be potato, lotus root, onion, or mushrooms while the meat could be ground chicken, bacon, sausages, or seafood.



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Kyoto-style Sushi

You may notice that cured fish, instead of fresh fish, is the star of sushi in Kyoto. Why? Kyoto had difficulty acquiring fresh fish before so they improvised and eventually became known for this style of sushi. The different types of Kyoto style sushi are Sabazushi (mackerel is wrapped around rice and held together by a thin sheet of Kombu) and Hakozushi (fish and rice are squeezed into a wooden box-shaped mold). 



Buddhist Shojin Ryori

If you are looking for vegan dining in Kyoto, you must try this. Shojin Ryori is the simple traditional meal for Buddhist monks that is filled with fruits, fresh vegetables, and herbs. This cuisine could also have tofu and fermented soybeans. Eating Shojin Ryori is not only a cultural experience but also a meal with health benefits.



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You will be amused by nama-fu, a Japanese delicacy made from wheat gluten and rice flour and shaped into maple leaves and cherry blossoms. The secret to making a delicious nama-fu is clean water. While the chewy part of nama-fu is not very flavorful, it is served with other ingredients like herbs. 




You will likely find Yatsuhashi everywhere in Kyoto as it is the most popular confectionery in the region. Yatsuhashi is made from rice flour wrapped around red bean paste. Its initial version has a triangular shape, and it is as crisp as a cookie. Its typical flavor is cinnamon but there are already different flavors today.



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Kyo Tsukemono 

Kyoto style pickles are served with daikon radish, turnips, and Chinese cabbage, with salt and vinegar added to the entire flavor.



Yudofu (Simmered Tofu)

You cannot miss eating soft Kyoto tofu soaked in a tasty broth with vegetables especially in the Arashiyama and Nanzenji areas. Also in Yudofu are green onions and sesame seeds. 



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Kyo Tsukemono 

Kyoto style pickles are served with daikon radish, turnips, and Chinese cabbage, with salt and vinegar added to the entire flavor.




Your ultimate culinary experience in Kyoto would be kaiseki. This multi-course Japanese dining binge features sakizuke (appetizer), nimono (a simmered dish), mukozuke (sashimi dish), hassun, yakimono (grilled course), and hanmono or shokuji, a rice dish. You can get a taste of authentic Kyoto cuisine at Ippin Hashinaga Restaurant.



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Soy Milk Doughnuts

Soy milk doughnuts are sprinkled with brown sugar or made sweeter with chocolate or caramel. The freshest ones can be found at the Tohnyu Doughnut stand in Nishiki Market.



Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are claimed to have been discovered between 4000 – 5000 BC. It is made from buckwheat flour and categorized into two: one is sobatsuyu (sweet soy sauce, mild vinegar, and fish stock) and the other is sobajiru (warm soy-based broth). If you are traveling to Kyoto, never miss the chance to enjoy a bowl of soba noodles on a day tour to the torii gate at Fushimi Inari Taisha and Mt. Inari.



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If you’re exploring Kyoto and other regions in Japan, don’t forget to get a Suica Card, your prepaid e-money card you can use on the train, vending machines, and other shops for a hassle-free travel in the country!