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Food Discovery: Kyoto!

Updated on September 20, 2018
Badellino Eleonor profile image

I'm a gastronome, graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. I love food, travel and I'm currently living in Tokyo!

The magic of Kyoto is something that can make you feel like you never had it before. The street, the light, the people and the food will guide you in an other w

Travel around Kyoto means immerse yourself in what we all consider the true Japanese culture.

Monumental temples with a unique beauty, hotels close to the river that remind you Ghibli’s films, such as “Spirited Away”, Geishas crossing you the street (if you’re lucky of course – to find one I wandered for hours around the historical area of the city until late night).

In short, for us Italians, Europeans, walk around Kyoto seem to be in another dimension, where people live life and time that passes in a different way.

Traveling alone allows you to move according to your needs and your wishes. You do not have schedules to respect or people to take into account. For this reason, my tour of the city was a continuous getaway in the streets of Kyoto, with earphone and a backpack with inside just water, a book (guys I suggest you "Kyoto: Seven Paths to The Heart of The City" - I read it in one morning before arriving in the city, is the best way to arrive in the city with great ideas of what you want to see), battery charger, and wallet.

My most exciting moment? Arriving by chance at the entrance of the Nishiki Market.

For food lovers (I am referring to 99% of the population), the Nishiki Market is a wonderful place. Some call it “the kitchen” of Kyoto, and inside (I can swear) that you can find everything! It is a street entirely dedicated to “shopping” where you can find more than 100 shops and restaurants!

From the side I had entered, I was immediately overwhelmed by the aroma of toasted tea (the famous Hōjicha ほ う じ 茶) and the view of fresh fish exposed in the endless banquets on the sides of the street. One of the beauty of such a places, is the opportunity to speak (or at least try to communicate) directly with the various producers (I advise you to take advantage of the various local guides in order to take the best from the visit of this place and ask for advice on what to eat).

In particular, during my visit to this “sacred place” of Kyoto gastronomy, I couldn’t avoid eating few snacks, driven by the curiosity of their appearance and their popularity!

I will never forget the taste of “octopus” with an egg-stuffed head! It is small where you can find a small quail egg. Everything is then roasted with some sweet sauce that makes it very tasty. The taste is really really really “fishy” and probably is too intense for someone. That said, for lovers of fish and bittersweet flavors, I assure that it is delicious, but above all, when you bite it and you taste it with the egg, you would immediately want to eat another! (is really good, trust me!!!)

Other things that I loved in the market (but it happens in many places in Japan), are the number of samples that you can taste for free. If you decide to come without having eaten lunch or dinner, don’t worry you will be able to leave satisfied just thank this free food!

Calamari, fresh and polished shrimp, steamed bread stuffed with meat, yakitori (chicken, beef or pork meat), rice biscuit, marinated vegetables in vinegar or soy sauce… an inexhaustible gastronomic biodiversity!

However, among the street of this market, you can not be more than addicted to the quantity of product you can taste!

I advise you to go with your stomach empty, some coins to spend and get out with the pockets full of various delicious food!

The best “dream Kyoto” book I ever read


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