Kyoto

Where to eat in Kyoto: 8 places you have to try

Kyoto offers a fantastic variety of traditional Japanese food and local specialties that you must try. With so many options, it can feel overwhelming to decide where to eat in Kyoto. At least, that was our experience! On our first night, we tried to get into eight different restaurants, only to find they were all fully booked. Talk about a bummer. To save you from the same predicament, we’ve put together this guide of 8 places you have to try in Kyoto, ensuring you have the best food experience possible.

1. Curry & Tempura Koisus

Where to eat in Kyoto: Curry & Tempura Koisus

Let’s start with our absolute favorite place to eat in Kyoto: Curry & Tempura Koisus. The menu is simple, offering delicious curry and tempura. What we loved most is that they also have a vegan curry, which is quite rare in Japan. Kelvin had the regular curry with assorted tempuras, and Thysia tried the vegan curry. Both were absolutely delicious! It was our first time trying Japanese curry, and it was so flavorful. It doesn’t resemble any of the curries we’ve tried before. Plus, they’re pretty affordable too! The curry is 1,280 yen (about € 7,50) and with tempura, it’s 1,730 yen (about € 10). For an intimate and tasty dinner spot, Curry & Tempura Koisus is the place to go. Just remember, there are limited spots, so we recommend arriving at opening time to get a table. Otherwise you might have to wait a bit.

Disclaimer
Although the curry is fully vegan, the vegetable tempura is fried in the same oil as the fish and shrimp tempura.

2. Honke Owariya Main Branch

Honke Owariya Main Branch

Honke Owariya, founded in 1465, is one of Japan’s oldest restaurants. It’s housed in a traditional wooden building with a classic Japanese interior. This alone makes it worth it to visit Honke Owariya! The restaurant is known for its unique Kyoto soba dishes. Thysia tried the Tempura Donburi, a rice bowl with shrimp tempura. Kelvin had the Oyako Donburi, a rice bowl topped with scrambled egg, chicken, and Japanese leeks. Both came with a side of hot soba, and everything was oh so delicious! We arrived around 11:50 AM and had to wait about 20 minutes to get seated. There are plenty of seats, so even if there’s a queue, the wait won’t be long.

3. Men-ya Inoichi Hanare

Where to eat in Kyoto: Men-ya Inoichi Hanare

If you’re wondering where to eat in Kyoto, you’ve got to try Men-ya Inoichi Hanare, Kyoto’s Michelin Guide ramen spot. Trust us, it’s absolutely worth it! Kelvin can’t stop thinking about the grilled wagyu beef with bonito ramen. He’d never tasted anything like it before, everything was just so flavorful! What was also really cool, is that they provide you with extra ingredients to alter the taste of the dish. The staff recommends trying the dish for a couple of bites (or slurps), and then adding some katsuo-bushi. Or, in Thysia’s case, mix some ginger and add yuzu to your dish. If you think about it, you get two dishes for the price of one!

The only downside is that this restaurant is really popular, so expect to wait. The first time we went at 6 PM, we got a ticket for a 9 PM return. The second time, we arrived at 10:30 AM, half an hour before opening, and could order while waiting. They served our food right at 11 AM when they opened. Getting there early, at least 30 minutes before opening, is definitely worth it! We counted 16 available seats when we were there, which means you’re out of luck for a quick lunch if you’re 17th in line. 😉

4. Daiki-suisan kaitenzushi

Daiki-suisan kaitenzushi Kyoto-tower-sand

If you’ve read our Tokyo food guide, you know we love conveyor belt sushi. It’s fun, affordable, and very delicious! We found Daiki-suisan kaitenzushi while exploring Kyoto Tower and had a great time here. The sushi was fresh and delicious, and the prices were very reasonable. Make sure to try the grilled shrimp and shrimp tempura, these were our favorites! Daiki-suisan Kaitenzushi has several locations across Kyoto and other parts of Japan.

5. Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market

We’ve already mentioned Nishiki Market in our blog post about the best things to do in Kyoto, but it definitely deserves a spot in this food guide too.

This bustling indoor market offers a wide variety of local specialties. From fresh seafood to Japanese sweets and desserts, you’ll find it all here! We tried delicious eel and scampi skewers, each costing 800 yen (just under € 5). The honeycomb soft-serve ice cream was a must-try, we really enjoyed it! It cost us 900 yen, which is just over € 5.

Good to know
There are designated eating areas, usually in front of the shops, so avoid eating while walking. Some stalls have a no-photo policy, so be sure to check before taking pictures.

6. Brûlée

Brûlée

Brûlée might not be a restaurant, but we just had to include it for its incredible crème brûlée donuts! We still think about those donuts every day. They’re filled with delicious custard cream, and they caramelize the sugar on top right in front of you. So good! Each donut costs 350 yen, which is about € 2.

Good to know
When you arrive, they will ask you whether you want to eat right now, or if you want takeout. You must choose to eat those delicious donuts right now! If you choose takeout, they won’t be hot anymore, and also not caramelized. Brûlée even recommends eating them right away, saying that takeout is the inferior option. Who are we to doubt them?

7. Maccha House

Where to eat in Kyoto: Maccha House

After seeing so many matcha tiramisu posts on Instagram, we couldn’t resist checking out this hotspot. Maccha House is all about matcha, as the name suggests. We tried their matcha tiramisu and roasted green tea tiramisu, and surprisingly, we enjoyed them both! We’re usually not big fans of matcha, but everything at Maccha House was really good. The right balance of sweetness and bitterness if you ask us. Their tiramisu is definitely worth a try, especially for only 700 yen (about € 4).

8. Menbaka Fire Ramen

And lastly, there’s Menbaka Fire Ramen. It might not be the most traditional spot (some might call it touristy), but it’s such a blast! When we walked in, we expected spicy ramen (why would you call yourself “fire”?), but we were in for a surprise. They literally set your ramen on fire right in front of you! It’s not about the spice level but the theatrical way they prepare it. Who would’ve thought!

What’s really nice is that they offer a veggie version with veggie broth. You can guess this made Thysia really happy. It was actually her first time eating veggie broth in Japan! While we’ve had more authentic ramen elsewhere, the taste was still great with a hint of smokiness. We also tried their gyoza, they were really delicious. Overall, it was a fun and memorable experience, though it is a bit pricier than other ramen spots.

Where to stay in Kyoto

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