Food Culture in Kyoto
Food Culture in Kyoto
There is a unique regional rule in Kyoto City which is called“Raise toasts with Nihonshu” that was passed in 2013. The purpose of this rule is to promote various traditional industries in Kyoto by using locally-produced Nihonshu (sake) when raising toasts, and in so doing contribute to Japanese culture.
This is an artistic and gracious Japanese seasonal cuisine. In fact, it can be said that Kaiseki-ryori is the ultimate Japanese cuisine. Kaiseki-ryori uses the fresh ingredients of the season and is cooked in ways that enhance the original taste of the ingredients. Each dish is simply seasoned and presented beautifully in exquisite dinnerware. Often, items from nature such as tree leaves and flowers accompany the dishes. Kaiseki was vegetarian in its origin, but nowadays, the modern kaiseki meal may include meat and seafood. Kaiseki is regarded as the greatest culinary refinement in Japan. The seasoning base is composed fish and vegetables, and is characterized by its refined savor.
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into blocks. The making of tofu from soy milk is similar to processing cheese from milk. Yu do-fu is easy to make, low in calories and fat, and is ideal for dinner in the winter. Cut tofu into small cubes, put a large-sized ceramic pot over low heat at the table, add tofu into the pot and simmer, and eat boiled tofu dipping in the sauce. Be careful not to burn your tongue. Yu do-fu is one of the feature winter dishes of Kyoto. There are many yu-dofu eateries around Nanzen-ji, which are popularly known for serving the signature "Nanzenji Dofu". If you visit Nanzen-ji Temple in the winter, we recommend experiencing "Nanzenji Dofu".
Tempura is a traditional dish consisting of seafood and vegetables dipped in a batter of flour and cold water and then fried. It ranks with sushi as the most popular of Japanese foods overseas. There are countless opportunities to enjoy tempura in Japan, from reasonably priced teishoku (lunch sets) shops to high-class ryotei restaurants. In many cases, the tempura is prepared right before your eyes. The method of eating tempura varies from place to place, but in most cases it's sprinkled with salt and dipped in sauce.
Noodles have been around for a long time in Japan. The Kansai region of Japan is famous for its “Udon” (noodles made from flour with salt water), however, “Soba” (noodles made from buckwheat flour) and “Ramen” (Japanese noodle dish of Chinese origin) are also becoming popular. The delicious light gold soup used in “Udon” has a mild hint of soy sauce. Meanwhile, Nishin soba has its origins in Kyoto and is popular for its delicious sweet combination of boiled Nishin (herring) and soup. Definitely take some time to enjoy the delicious noodles of Kyoto.
This is a kind of cuisine eaten mainly by Buddhist followers. It is known as "Shojin-ryori" in Japan, and prohibits inclusion of meat, fish, onion, leek garlic and other root vegetables, as harvesting them will result in the death of the vegetables. Instead beans and fruits are used. This strict diet is often practiced only on special occasions. Shojin-ryori was originally brought to Japan by monks who studied in China. As time has passed, it has been adapted to the ingredients and customs of Kyoto. Since it's both healthy and delicious, shojin-ryori's fans are on the rise. If you decide to go a temple to sample shojin-ryori, advance reservations are recommended.
Other Japanese Food
Among Japanese food, this section mainly introduces restaurants where you can try traditional dishes such as “Obanzai” and “Bubuzuke”. “Obanzai” is a traditional Kyoto creation using seasonal vegetables while “Bubuzuke” is known as a Japanese dish which involves pouring a green tea broth over rice with tsukemono (pickles). Both are typical Japanese dishes of Kyoto and have been popular for many years. In addition, cuisine using “unagi” (eel) and “suppon” (Chinese softshell turtle) and “sumibi-yaki”, a type of mini barbeque, should also not be missed.
Japan has witnessed an explosion of foreign restaurants, representing almost every country in the world. There are a particularly large number of French, Italian, and Chinese restaurants, and many superb establishments serving cuisine that cannot be said to derive from any one particular country. The Japanese of course love Japanese food but increasingly are adapting the world's various culinary styles into their meals.
Cafe & Sweets
Sake (also known as Nihonshu) is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, koji (often translated as rice malt or yeast made from rice) and water. It resembles white wine in appearance, ranging from almost transparent to slightly yellow in coloration. The alcohol content is typically about 10-20%. Sake can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
There are countless regional varieties of sake. Kyoto’s soft water has long been the lifeblood of the breweries of the Fushimi district, one of Japan’s oldest and most prominent centers of sake production.
There is a unique regional rule in Kyoto City which is called “日本酒で乾杯- Raise toasts with Nihonshu“ and which was begun in 2013. The purpose of this rule is to promote various traditional industries in Kyoto with the refined taste of Nihonshu (sake) and to contribute to Japanese culture.
Please enjoy learning about Nihonshu (sake) by visiting Kyoto, one of the sake capitals of Japan!
This section introduces the materials most often used in Japanese Kyoto cuisine such as “shichimi” used for flavoring noodle dishes, “O-fu”, “Yuba” and so on. O-fu, a versatile ingredient made from wheat gluten, is used for hot pot dishes such as Sukiyaki (Beef hot pot). There are two varieties of O-fu. “Nama-fu” is a raw version and “Yaki-fu” is a baked version. You can enjoy a spongy taste with Nama-fu and a crispy taste with Yaki-fu. Yuba is a famous product in Kyoto and known as an expensive and healthy ingredient. Yuba is the skin that forms from boiling soymilk in a shallow pan and can be enjoyed in various ways. For example, it can be eaten raw or as an ingredient in hot pots or Kaiseki cuisine.