Demystifying Kyoto Cuisine
For more than 1,000 years, Kyoto was the kitchen of the Imperial Court, and those traditions remain today. We hope this little primer on the language of Kyoto cuisine will help you navigate the city’s many dining options, which range from Michelin-starred restaurants to friendly nooks for home-style cooking.
The finest of the local specialties is known as kyo-ryori. Loaded with fresh, seasonal vegetables and local tofu, it’s health food on the most refined culinary plane.
A formal style known as kaiseki offers a sophisticated, multi-course banquet, perhaps enjoyed while seated on a tatami floor overlooking a Japanese garden. Cha-kaiseki combines a similar meal with a tea ceremony.
For vegetarian tastes, you might go for the simple temple cuisine called shojin-ryori, which monks still serve to visitors at certain temples. We’d be happy to direct you.
Home-style obanzai can be casual and inexpensive, ideal for eating on the go – and Kyoto offers many places to taste it. In the heat of summer, you might eat it as locals do, on a cool platform above running water – an experience known as kawayuka.
As with other arts in Kyoto, culinary traditions today often receive a modern twist. Let us help you map out a journey for your palate. And no matter what you feast on, always leave room for mizumono (dessert)!