16 Must Eat in Kyoto Restaurants
by Coco Tran On September 19, 2023
Looking for the latest restaurants that are the hot must eat in kyoto restaurants? As a foodie, I’ve compiled my must eat in Kyoto list to help you pick the best places to eat in Kyoto on your trip!
Kyoto is a food lover’s paradise, with a seemingly endless array of traditional Japanese dishes to try. From flaming noodles to handwoven sushi, green tea desserts to street food, this guide covers the ultimate must eat in Kyoto foods to seek out on your trip to Japan’s cultural capital.
16 Must Eat in Kyoto Restaurants
Overview of kyoto restaurant japan & kyoto food culture
Kyoto has a long-standing reputation for high quality cuisine using seasonal ingredients. Due to the city’s abundance of pure water from nearby Lake Biwa, Kyoto excels at tofu, soba noodles, sake, and green tea.
Compared to the bold flavors of Osaka, Kyoto cuisine focuses on subtler flavors to highlight the natural tastes of fresh ingredients. Attention is paid to aesthetics, with beautifully plated dishes commonplace.
You’ll find everything from cheap street food to elaborate multicourse kaiseki meals made with the finest local ingredients. Make sure to sample a bit of everything to fully experience Kyoto’s incredible culinary offerings.
Famous Food in Kyoto & what to eat in kyoto
Kyoto is renowned for several specialty dishes that represent the pinnacle of traditional Japanese cuisine:
- Kaiseki – Elaborate multicourse meals featuring seasonal ingredients like Kyo-yasai heirloom vegetables, seafood sashimi, wagyu beef, and artfully plated dishes.
- Yudofu – Delicately soft tofu boiled in an iron pot and served in hot broth with kombu seaweed. A signature Kyoto dish.
- Soba – Buckwheat noodles made with Kyoto’s famously pure water, often served in soups or with smoked fish.
- Sushi – Traditional pressed sushi from historic restaurants, as well as creative modern versions like handwoven sushi.
- Matcha – Vibrant green tea incorporated into desserts like ice cream, parfaits and warabimochi at specialist shops.
- Wagashi – Japanese confections including sweet mochi, artistically shaped yatsuhashi cookies, and matcha flavored treats.
The refined, subtle flavors of Kyoto cuisine focus on bringing out the natural essences of quality seasonal ingredients. It’s a foodie paradise for sampling both high-end dishes and simple foods like tofu and tea.
16 Must Eat in Kyoto restaurants
restaurant in Kyoto japan You need to try
As a foodie, I’ve compiled a list of my must try restaurants, including some unique and best restaurants in Kyoto you should definitely try!
1. unique restaurants in kyoto: Nagashi Somen at Hirobun
For a uniquely interactive dining experience, head to Hirobun in the mountain town of Kibune to try nagashi somen. This involves catching cold somen noodles with your chopsticks as they flow down bamboo shoots set over a stream of water. It’s only served in summer months and takes place outdoors, making it a refreshing meal.
Tip: they are cash only
- Address: Kibune, Kyoto Prefecture
- Price: 1,500 JPY per person
- Tips: Arrive early to get in line for a time slot, visit Kifune Shrine while waiting
Nagashi somen is a playful way to enjoy delicate wheat noodles and flavorful broth on a hot day. The last noodles dyed pink signal the end of your meal. Hirobun’s scenic setting with waterfalls in the mountain forest makes for an unforgettable experience.
Must eat at Kyoto : Restaurants in Kyoto Japan
2. Handwoven Sushi at AWOMB kyoto restaurant japan
AWOMB pioneered unique handwoven sushi in Kyoto. Instead of normal nigiri, you’re presented with a colorful array of fresh seafood and veggies to roll your own sushi combinations with sheets of nori and seasoned rice. It’s an artistic feast for the eyes and interactive dining experience. Truly a unique restaurant in kyoto Japan you should put on your list!
- Address: 189 Ebanagicho, Nakagyo-ku
- Price: Sets from 3,000 JPY
3. Kaiseki at Kitcho kyoto restaurant japan
For an ultimate fine dining experience and a must eat at Kyoto, splurge on the tasting menu at Kitcho, a Michelin-starred restaurant led by a prestigious family of chefs. Savor seasonal kaiseki dishes like fish sashimi, wagyu beef and Kyoto vegetables presented as edible art.
- Address: 58 Yasakaojisuji-cho, Gokomachi Nijyo Sagaru, Nakagyo Ward
- Price: Lunch from 23,000 JPY, dinner from 44,000 JPY
3. Flaming Ramen at Menbakaichidai kyoto restaurant japan
For a truly theatrical dining experience, head to Menbakaichidai to try their flaming “fire ramen.” Noodles and thick slices of chashu pork cook in a signature broth, then staff pour flaming oil around the bowl with a burst of flames shooting up. It tastes as good as it looks!
- Address: 757-2 Minami Iseyacho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
- Price: From 1,400 JPY
4. Green Tea Desserts
Uji, south of Kyoto, is Japan’s top tea producing region. Tsujiri is famed for serving only the highest grade matcha from Uji in everything from ice cream to parfaits. It’s worth braving the long lines to try their incredible green tea dessert creations.
- Address: 573-3 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward
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best kyoto restaurants
5. Kaiseki at Kyotofu restaurant in kyoto japan
This restaurnat in Kyoto Specialises in tofu cuisine, Kyotofu serves multi-course kaiseki dinners featuring artfully prepared tofu in different forms. From silken yudofu to fried age-dofu, enjoy Kyoto’s iconic ingredient prepared with care.
- Address: 798 Gyoganji-cho, Shimogyo Ward
- Price: Kaiseki course from 5,000 JPY
6. Unagi at Miyoshi restaurant in kyoto japan
Another amazing restaurant in kyoto Japan that serves Unagi (freshwater eel) grilled over charcoal is a summertime treat. Miyoshi opened way back in 1716, gaining fame for its perfectly cooked unagi kabayaki glazed in a secret sauced.
- Address: Oikesagaru, Tominokōji-dōri, Nakagyō-ku
- Price: Unagi don from 2,500 JPY
7. Yudofu in Arashiyama
This restaurant in kyoto Japan that serves a traditional Kyoto dish of delicate tofu boiled in an iron pot with kombu and eaten with dipping sauce. The signature yudofu at Arashiyama’s Sagano restaurant is a memorable meal, served with seasonal sides. For a budget option, try the casual Yudofu Chaya Sagatofu Sanchu stall.
- Sagano Address: 45 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo Ward
- Sagatofu Sanchu Address: 2-1 Sagatenryuji Tateishicho, Ukyo Ward
8. Street Food at Nishiki Market
For snacking your way through a wide range of tastes and textures, head to Nishiki Market. This narrow street is lined with 125 food vendors dishing up favorites like takoyaki octopus balls, Japanese sweets, fresh sushi, and plenty of free samples.
- Address: Nishidaimonjicho, Nakagyo Ward
9. Kyo-yasai at Nakamura kyoto restaurant japan
This restaurant in kyoto Japan that serves is a must eat at Kyoto: Kyo-yasai are heirloom vegetables traditionally grown in the Kyoto region praised for intense flavors. At farm-to-table restaurant Nakamura, the tasting menu spotlights Kyo-yasai paired with seafood and wild game.
- Address: Umetada-cho 414, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi
- Price: Lunch and dinner tasting menus from 5,000 JPY
10. Okonomiyaki at Chidoritei
One of Kyoto best foods to try is Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake filled with meat, seafood and veggies, is a classic Kyoto food. Chidoritei near Nishiki Market has been serving their delicious okonomiyaki and kakiage tempura don since 1948.
- Address: 208-6 Nishiuoya-cho, Nakagyo Ward
- Price: Okonomiyaki from 1000 JPY
11. Nishin Soba at Matsuba restaurant in kyoto japan
A must eat at Kyoto , A Kyoto specialty, nishin soba . Nishin Soba features delicate noodles served with smoked pacific herring. Matsuba is the most famous destination, open since 1867. The sweet yet savory flavor of the fish pairs perfectly with chewy soba noodles and hot broth.
- Address: 192 Kawabata-cho, Shijo-ohashi Higashi-iru, Higashiyama Ward
- Price: Around 1,400 JPY
12. Sushi at Izuju restaurant in kyoto japan
This Kyoto restaurant in Japan opened in 1781, Izuju serves Edo-style sushi, the forerunner to modern versions. Their signature is kyoto-style sushi with strongly vinegared rice shaping the flavor. Be prepared to wait in line at this tiny historic sushi joint.
- Address: 292 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward
- Price: Sets available from 2,000 JPY
13. Obanzai at Sobatei Yusuke restaurant in kyoto japan
This Kyoto restaurant in Japan, Obanzai are home-style Kyoto dishes, often using seasonal vegetables. Sobatei Yusuke near Nanzen-ji temple has been serving handmade soba noodles alongside obanzai favorites like yuba tofu skin, simmered eggplant, and shiitake mushrooms for generations.
- Address: 58-71 Nanzenjimae-cho, Sakyo-ku
- Price: Soba with obanzai from 1,500 JPY
must eat at kyoto
14. Kyoto Ramen Koji / Kyoto-style Ramen
Each region of Japan boasts its own local ramen flavors. In Kyoto, expect a must eat best food in Kyoto is a soy sauce based broth made with pork back fat and thin curly noodles. Kyoto Ramen Koji near the train station has multiple shops to sample Kyoto-style ramen.
- Address: 10F Kyoto Station Building, Karasuma-dori, Shiokoji-Sagaru, Shimogyo Ward
15. Japanese Sweets
Kyoto is packed with shops specializing in traditional wagashi confections like matcha flavored warabimochi, sweet dango dumplings, and artistically shaped yatsuhashi cookies. Stop by a wagashi store to try a selection as the perfect ending to a Kyoto meal.
16. Kaiseki at Gion Karyo
For a top-notch kaiseki experience in Kyoto, head to Gion Karyo in the heart of the geisha district. Chef Motokichi Yukimura crafts seasonal tasting menus using only the finest local ingredients like Kyo-yasai heirloom vegetables. The intimate setting with only counter seating makes it a memorable splurge.
- Address: 570-235 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
- Price: Kaiseki dinner from ¥20,000
Tips for Eating Your Way Through Kyoto
- Focus meals around seasonal ingredients – spring sakura flavors, summer bamboo shoots, fall mushrooms, etc.
- Make reservations at popular restaurants or expect long wait times, especially for kaiseki and sushi.
- Look for restaurants near top attractions like Kiyomizudera, Fushimi Inari Shrine and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
- Be adventurous and try unfamiliar ingredients like yuba tofu skin and obanzai Kyoto veggies.
- Check department store basements for excellent sushi, tempura, and other takeout options.
- Enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony for a calming break between temple visits.
- Pack light snacks and green tea from convenience stores to fuel you between meals.
With such an astounding diversity of culinary delights, Kyoto is a must-visit for food lovers. Exploring back alley restaurants, sushi counters, and old tea houses allows you to experience centuries of food culture. By sampling Kyoto’s specialties, like delicate kaiseki courses and flaky yudofu, you’ll come away with an authentic taste of Japan.
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