Monday, August 10, 2009

Dining in Kyoto

Kyoto is the place that I knew long ago that I would splurge a little on food. I had planned to treat myself to a ¥10000 kaiseki meal but the owner of my guesthouse said that they don't usually serve kaiseki for parties of one. Kaiseki is elaborate, full course Japanese dining and requires specialized shopping for the ingredients of your meal so naturally, nobody wants to go to the trouble for one person. Anyway, I found some good suggestions in some guide books and tried some local Kyoto specialties. Yesterday I had omen noodles which are similar to udon but served with a selection of vegetables and crushed sesame seeds on the side. It was great, and exactly what I needed after walking around all morning. I found the restaurant completely by chance, just as I was minutes away from a low blood sugar meltdown.

Soup and noodles served separately, add noodles and veg and sesame to the soup to taste. Comes with a little dish of kinpira gobo (burdock root salad). (¥1100)

Today after visiting the zen rock garden at ryoan-ji temple I was feeling anything but zen. It was tourist hell in there. Unsupervised children running around, every other person counting the rocks out loud as there are 15 rocks but only 14 are ever visible at one time. Probably the least enjoyable thing I have done in Kyoto. Anyway, as you walk through the rest of the temple grounds you come upon a Yudofuya, a buddhist tofu restaurant where they serve one thing, boiled tofu.
I had been wanting to try some so I stopped in and seriously, if you are in Kyoto I would say skip the rock garden and just go to the Yudofuya. It was very serene, in it's own little garden, and there were no tourists from anywhere but Japan. (and one from Canada).

The restaurant.

The thing they put your pot of tofu on.

The yudofu. You ladle this into a bowl with soy sauce, ginger, green onions and sesame and make a kind of tofu soup. It may not sound like much but it's delicious! It's great quality silken tofu, better than anything I've had at home. (¥1500)

This being my last night in Kyoto, I wanted to treat myself to a nice dinner so I took a recommendation from my room mate's guide book and ended up at Ikumatsu. The book correctly states that the décor is nothing to write home about but the food is a very good value. Here's what I had:

Surprise box. What's in there?

All of this. Simmered veg and fish, broiled salmon, chicken stuffed with veg, edamame, wakame seaweed, sardine, fish cake, omelet, tofu, some kind of gingery fish in the little white dish, squid and other unidentified sashimi.

Then tempura, rice, miso soup and pickles.

I ordered a little bottle of saké too and all this came to ¥2840. Definitely a good value. It's been hard because there is just so much food to choose from here so if you are indecisive like me, you could spend all day trying to pick a place. Leaving for Nagano tomorrow where it will be back to my ¥1500 per day budget.


Blogger cisbrane said...

it's too bad that you didn't feel the zen at Ryoanji :'( It wasn't as bad for me when I went there... but I mean, all of the shrines and temples of Kyoto are tourist attractions and so... yeah... I still thought the rock garden looked very cool ---Steven from Ichiensou

August 10, 2009 7:02 AM  

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