Delectable Discoveries in Kyoto, Japan

WHAT – a short sharing of some delectable discoveries in Kyoto, Japan by my friend Lee Xin Li

for WHOM – especially for those travellers who enjoy Food as much as travel and travellers who invest the time to discover & experience and not rush through all the Must-See, Must-Do in the places they travel to.

Name: Lee Xin Li
Nationality: Singaporean
Food Destination
: Kyoto, Japan

Being a little shy, he usually pens down memorable experiences and shares it with his followers at his travel and food blog at Every moment that he captures on his camera while travelling is a source of inspiration for his amazing art sketches.  Here, we are delighted to have him share with us his favourite places and goodies he found in Kyoto, Japan.

You said your trip to Kyoto really sparked off the wanderlust in you ?

Travelling was never part of my life until a visit to Kyoto, Japan. It was the spark that began my wanderlust. Fate has not been kind to this fascinating country recently; I hope that what is happening in Japan will not stop people from visiting this amazing country.

Of all the great food you tried in Kyoto, what’s your favourite ?

This is a tough question as all dishes have their own strengths. My favourite dish was nothing more than an ordinary tempura prepared by Chef Manzo Kishimoto from Ichisun. It was not sophisticated in anyway, neither was it ground-breaking. I just enjoyed how a normal dish was well-executed with light batter, juicy interior and none of that starch overdose or dirty, soggy batter. It was just good tempura.

Tempura (not to be confused with furai which is food deep fried with panko (bread crumbs) is basically food deep fried with a layer of batter. It sounded easier than it seemed as the oil temperature must be just right and kept constant and it must be kept clean. It was supposed to be light and the content juicy and cooked (for egg plant and prawns) and eaten immediately after serving while it is still piping hot. My favourite kind of tempura is ebi tempura. Tempura is a delicious snack.

Hmm.. Sounds really yummy! So how much does it cost to get a good meal in Kyoto?

Dining in Kyoto can cost anything from 300 ¥ to 10000s¥. There are plenty of vendor machine fast food outlets which offer inexpensive but filling meals around 300 to 600 ¥. Ramen, udon and soba cost around 700¥ to 1000¥. My favourite food hunt places are Isetan and Takashimaya food markets which offer all kinds of bento (packed meals) from Chinese food to Italian. You can expect to pay from 399 ¥ to 2000¥ plus (normally for sushi meals). A decent packed lunch should cost around 400¥ to 600¥. Meals are particularly expensive along Pontocho and Gion areas. Otherwise a decent meal in Kyoto should cost anything from 1000¥ to 2000¥ for lunch and 1000¥ to 3000¥ for dinner if you plan to eat at the mid-range restaurants frequently.

How about recommending some delicious snacks which travellers can bring back home?

Kyoto has many generations old shops selling wagashi (sweets). Not only are they very pretty but some of them are really delicious. You can easily find them around the train stations or around tourist landmarks and shopping streets. The other place to get something back for your families and friends from Kyoto (besides the numerous kawaii stuff or amulets) is certainly green tea from Uji. My pick is the Mizudashi Sencha from Itohkyuemon (100 grams for 1050 ¥ in July 2010). Apparently the tea is only available during the summer and it is most fragrant when served chilled in the fridge after 6 hours. This tea is very suitable for our eternal summer climate in Singapore.

Those are really great suggestions! A last question for you, is there anything interesting that you discovered about the food culture in Kyoto?

The oddest thing I discovered was mochi in sponge cakes.

As for discoveries, I shall not be a spoiler; it is for you to discover, and words do little justice to what you can find in Kyoto (and in Japan).

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