Answers from Our Experts (1)
Every city in Japan has a special dish, one that comes to define it, one that lures visitors from around the world. Here are five such specialties that draw foodies to Kyoto:
1. Kyoto is famed for its tofu (soybean curd), thanks to the city’s excellent water and large population of vegetarian Buddhist monks. Tofu here is a fine art, and can be found in a variety of preparations, from deep-fried to skewered and grilled.
2. As a byproduct of the city’s tofu production, yuba (tofu skin) is another popular item you’ll find in sushi and on ryokan menus in Kyoto. During the boiling of soy milk, a chewy film, or skin, is formed on the surface. It can be eaten fresh, as steaks or even in donburi.
3. Kaiseki, or traditional multicourse Japanese dinners, is taken to another level in Kyoto, where chefs have transformed this into a true art. This meal, derived from the elaborate and highly structured tea ceremony rituals of the 16th century, uses fresh, local and seasonal ingredients in a series of perfectly plated small courses.
4. You’ll find Japanese green tea and, more specifically, the finely milled matcha version, all over Kyoto. Made from shade-grown tea leaves, matcha boasts a distinctly green color and is most often used in traditional tea ceremonies. It’s a higher quality green tea, often whisked into a frothy drink.
5. Yatsuhashi is a cinnamon-flavored, triangle-shaped sweet made from glutinous rice flour and sugar. When baked, it’s similar to senbei; fresh, it has the texture of mochi and often filled with red bean paste.