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Archive for the ‘Kyoto & Osaka’ Category

Colourful and cheerful, with average-looking kimono-clad models scattered throughout the restaurant, Issen Yoshoku (壹銭洋食) is a very fun dining place!

Shijo Dori, Nawate-agaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

Though the menu is big, only one item is served here!

Rumoured to be the original ‘Western food’ in Japan, Issen Yoshoku is an okonomiyaki-ish pancake filled with egg, beef, scallion, shrimp and topped with a sweet sauce.

Watch the chef in action at the grill!

Freshly made Issen Yoshoku~

This looks fake.

Wait, I think it is fake.

Here’s the real deal. I won’t say I love it, but the boys liked it so much that one order (this was just a pre-dinner snack, haha) quickly turned into two!

Me, I still prefer the old-fashioned okonomiyaki : )

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Kyoto: Matsuno

Did I mention that I LOVE UNAGI?

And I love that Japan has an abundance of unagi shops specialising in one thing: eel.

Just a few steps east of the Minamiza kabuki theater, Matsuno is a popular and reliable family-run restaurant to satisfy the ultimate unagi craving.

Minamiza-higashi 4-ken-me, Shijo-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

All 4 of us ordered the same thing: an exquisite lacquered box of warm rice topped with two beautifully grilled slices of fatty unagi sandwiching a layer of fluffy soft tamago.

Heaven.

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Let’s go for an expensive treat at Gion Komori (祇園 小森), a famous tea house in central Kyoto!

High prices, high quality, high expectations.

61 Motoyoshi-cho, Gion Shimbashi, Kyoto

Absolutely must try: green tea bavarois parfait and chestnut parfait

Green tea pudding parfait..

Azuki bean jam, agar jelly, green tea ice cream with brown sugar syrup.

We had this cuz of the irritating minimum one order per person policy, haha. Nothing special, the parfaits are much much nicer!

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Not too far from Nijo Castle is Kyoto’s oldest soba restaurant!

Honke Owariya (本家尾張屋) has been serving traditionally handmade soba for more than 500 years (since 1465) and according to its website, even the Japan royalty drops by when they are in Kyoto!

Well, if the humble noodle dish is good enough for the imperial family, it’s definitely a must-try for us lowly commoners!

322 Kurumayacho, Nijo-Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Omg, the soba here is fantastic! No matter what you get, be it the cold or hot soba, it’s gonna be super fresh and plain delicious. There’s even a slip of paper to remind us to drink the water in which the soba is cooked. It’s quite bland and tasteless but I guess it should be quite nutritious?

Ten Seiro: plain buckwheat noodles, deep fried shrimp tempura, wasabi and dipping sauce on the side.

One of the signature items: sobazushi, i.e. sushi consisting of soba instead of rice, tamago and shiitake mushrooms rolled and wrapped in seaweed with dipping sauce.

I can eat this everyday!!

Even the warabi mochi is made of buckwheat flour! So so soft, yums.

Owariya was originally a confectionary shop, and it’s still one now. There’s a small corner by the main entrance where you can pick up some goodies, such as these soba boro cookies, a specialty in Kyoto!

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Kyoto: Day 2

Adventure in Kyoto continued with an early visit to to Sanjusangendo Hall (三十三間堂), the longest wooden building in Japan. What makes this temple so famous is the 1001 life-size statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the hall. A huge wooden Kannon in the centre, with rows of smaller, neatly arranged figures of Kannon on each side (500, to be exact), eerily glowing in the dark. Too bad, no photography is allowed so I can’t show you how stunning it is!

From there, we went to Nishiki market, then to Nijo Castle (二条城), home of the first shogun of the Edo Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Besides being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most special features of the castle is the nightingale floors, which emit squeaking and creaking sounds when walked upon. Cool stuff. The shogun was paranoid about being killed, you see. Again, no photography allowed inside the castle~

Every castle comes with a garden, and Nijo is no exception!

Late afternoon, we bused to Ginkakuji, Temple of the Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺). But decided not to go in since 1. we’ve already seen a temple this morning, 2. Ginkakuji doesn’t really interest us, and 3. admission fee is quite steep at ¥500. So we walked to the Philosopher’s Pathway (哲学の道) nearby. Walking along the tree-lined canal is one of the most popular activities in Kyoto during cherry blossom season but alas, we were there in summer when it’s so warm and there’s nothing much to see. So we turned back and had soft serve ice cream instead, haha!

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Haute it may be, traditional or modern kaiseki in Kyoto doesn’t necessarily have to be scarily-pocket-burning expensive. It just takes some research to find one that’s excellent, reliable, famous, and affordable (never say I’m easy to please, heh). After intensive analysis and cross-referencing, Giro Giro Hitoshina (枝魯枝魯ひとしな) seemed like the best bet so Giro it was!

Giro Giro (I love saying the name out loud! Gi-ro gi-ro, lol) is a small restaurant along the Takase-gawa canal, with funky-looking chefs churning out a 9-course meal for less than ¥4000! Don’t plan on showing up without a reservation cuz I’ll hate for you to make a wasted trip. Which you will, since it’s extremely popular and perpetually a full house everyday!

Our multi-course meal was fun, innovative, and I could tell that a lot of thought and effort went into each beautifully presented dish. Beware though, there’s a looooong wait between each course (the poor guys with us were really hungry, haha) and dinner easily stretched over 3 hours~

The menu changes regularly depending on the seasonal produce so what you see below won’t be what you get. That said, I’m 99.99% sure that you won’t be disappointed with whatever that’s served!

I really enjoyed the experience. And I think you will too : )

420-7 Nanba-cho, Nishi Kiya-machi-dori, Higashigawa, Matsubarashita, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Aji sushi, pumpkin, mint.

Okra, zucchini with camembert sauce, potato-shrimp ball, tai fish, conger eel, crab in seaweed paste.

Cold miso tomato soup, unagi, winter melon.

Tachiro sashimi.

Fried fish, eggplant, cabbage, tartare sauce.

Young corn, miso paste, mustard seeds, grapefruit jelly (inside the duckie).

Tako, ginger rice, egg soup.

Custard tiramisu, blueberries in plum sauce, orange jelly with mint, banana panna cotta.

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Markets, be it open farmers’ market or wet markets or even supermarkets, are my favourite places to explore while overseas. The smells, the sights, and the tastes are food for the my soul~

Nishiki Market (錦市場) in central Kyoto is so colourful and vibrant; I just love it! This may not be a must-go for the regular tourist, but for a foodie traveller, Nishiki Market ranks pretty high on my itinerary!

Because there’s so many stalls and restaurants, it pays to do a little research prior to the trip. Below are my top 3 eats at the market!

#1: Savory dashimaki tamago and umaki (unagi + tamago) at Miki Keiran (三木鸡卵).

Initially, we only bought the umaki to try but omg, the omelette is so fluffy and soft that we headed back immediately for another box of the plain one this time. This is the best tamago ever! So so sooo delicious that my sis and I still reminisce about it sometimes, sigh.

#2: Soymilk donuts at Konnyamonja (こんなもんじゃ), a little shop specialising in all things tofu and soy.

Wait for the latest batch of donuts to be freshly scooped out of the hot oil and eat them while they’re still piping hot. We love the plain ones sprinkled with soybean flour and served with brown sugar syrup!

#3: Purple yam soft serve ice cream at a random vegetable stall.

Purple yam is the only flavour available so I imagine they use fresh yam to make the soft serve. Creamy and light, this is very sweet potato-ish, I likey!

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