When I was in Arashiyama I got to try tons of traditional sweets and eat Kyoto Obanzai. What’s Kyoto Obanzai? Obanzai (おばんざい) is the homestyle cuisine of Kyoto. Severed with several side dishes. Kyoto doesn’t really have a lot of local cuisine unlike the rest of Japan. Kaiseki (懐石料理), the process of serving a course meal of traditional Japanese cuisine, started in Kyoto. Kaiseki now that’s pretty much the fancy way of eating and if you visit any onsen (hot bath) they do a Kaiseki.
My Obanzai since it was in Arashiyama was Shojin Ryori (精進料理) which is Buddhist monk food. Mainly tofu based. The Arashiyama district of Kyoto is well known for its Shojin Ryori mixed with Obanzai. Although I’m unsure how the flavor the broth, it was a mostly vegetarian meal.
I also got to savor lots of traditional Japanese sweets at a small sweets stall.
The top floor was for the savory diners and the bottom was for desserts.
Chawan Mushi (egg custard)
Yomogi and Seitan sticks with fermented soy paste
Light brown miso soup
Warabi which is peanut powder covered mochi
Big bowl has tofu and fermented miso in a shabu broth
Grayish square Gomadoufu (ごま豆腐) is Homeade seasame seeds crushed and chilled like tofu
5grain rice. Thank you nice restaurants in Japan for giving healthier options instead of just plain white rice.
Chawan Mushi or an egg custard. Often filled with fish, this one was vegetarian.
The main course. A hot pot of tofu, vegetables and ginger in a thick shabu sauce that was bubbling when it arrived to me.
Warabi covered in peanut powder. The knife was to cut it, but it was still a trial to eat with.
The Yomogi and Seitan sticks with soy paste. Sweet but not too sweet.
You could see the lovely koyo (autumn leaves) outside.
I went back earlier this year with my man and while he got the Obanzai. I got the Kumiage Yuba (the top left option on the menu). Kumiage Yuba is fresh tofu skin in soy milk served warm.
My whole spread similar to the Obanzai extras. The Kumiage Yuba is on the top in an interesting bamboo-shaped pot.
Close-up of the Kumiage Yuba and its two flavoring sauces which were were asked to dip in.
This time I got English instructions (on the left). When I was alone eating my Obanzai I didn’t.
It was really tasty and I never thought about warm soy milk as a savory meal.
Traditional Japanese Sweets in Arashiyama
This is a stall that can be found if you turn right once you’re on the main drag of Arashiyama walking from the train station. Left is to Tenryu-ji. Right is several shops and a selection of food stalls open all year. You can also stumble onto it after visiting the bamboo forest.
I really recommend it as a place to get some tasty Japanese sweets and energy up for the hikes ahead in Arashiyama.
I stopped by this traditional desserts shop not once but thrice to get my fill of tasty desserts. I really love traditional Japanese desserts. I know I post a lot of cake places, but my preference is snacks that are not too sweet.
Black Koto-imo (古都芋) a sweet potato and black seasame cake. It’s an Arashiyama traditional sweet. It looks like a brick but it was nicely packed with delicious sweet potato.
Yomogi Mochi Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子) dipped in fermented soy sauce. Bitter and slighty sweet mix.
I went back to the sweet stall in Spring and luckily I got my man to hold them all so I could take good pics.
Iced matcha for the Spring weather. Along with another Koto-imo, a Hanami Dango (花見団子) and an Imo-Manjuu (芋饅頭) or sweet potato bun. Hanami Dango come always in 3 colors and their only for sakura season. I love sakura season. Thank you traditional sakura season foods!
All that sweet potato and mochi. It was really delicious!!
I want to eat more traditional desserts.
No matter what time of year you’re in Kyoto I really recommend these two spots. Their delicious and easy to get to if you’re in Arashiyama. I want to try more places when I’m back in two weeks for koyo but I doubt I will find any as convenient.
I have some Hiroshima koyo posts coming up along with contact lens and eating healthy. Stay tuned!
Update! Google Maps of my Kyoto Food and Sweets recommendations
I love Arashiyama! I’ve got more Arashiyama posts coming for Sakura season but please enjoy the previous Fall posts and monkeys
More Kyoto posts? I’ve got you covered from tourist things to gyaru and fashion