My third post on Kyoto foods or Kyo-ryori and this one is all about Kyoto cafes with Kyoto sweets. Traditional sweets is one of the most famous things about Kyoto. Next to the mouth of most shrines are stalls or petite cafes for enjoying anything from an ice-cream to the rare one of a kind desserts. I’m going to talk about three that are definite highlights of Kyoto sweets. I’ve been to a other dessert places in Kyoto but they just didn’t hold up as well as these three Kyoto sweets cafes for originality and taste.
I also have a map at the bottom that I’ve compiled all my Kyoto food recommendations I’ve blogged about before and some new ones.
Seasonal Kyoto sweets right near the famous temples – Kyodai-ji and Kiyomizudera
Jumodo is a modern Kyoto zakka-style approach to traditional sweets. They have a well designed website and beautiful graphics for their menus and signage. But, Jumodo is still a really cute 4 table sweets place located perfectly next to many Kyoto famous sights.
I decided to stop in and fortify for the temple walks ahead and I was very satisfied I did.
Man ordered the Modan set (もだん) which includes red bean and mochi monaka, along with a mitarashi kinako (honey peanut) and sweet miso dangos.
The monaka to make yourself were temple bells. So cute for Kyoto.
I ordered the roasted chestnuts （栗きんとん kuri-kinton) and a matcha latte. I’m usually anti-chestnuts but wanted to order a seasonal item since it was Fall. These were incredibly delicious and although I sampled my man’s items the chestnuts were my favorite.
The homey outside of Jumodo.
200 year old Amazake Kyoto Sweets
Osakaya Kouji Cafe (大阪屋こうじ)
address: 605-0037 京都市東山区三条通神宮道西入ル西町１４７－１
Amazake (甘酒) means sweet sake. It’s a very low (or no) alcohol sweet wine enjoyed during New Years. 200 year old Amazake makers Osakaya opened up a cafe called Kouji in Kyoto that serves mainly Amazake flavored items.
Kouji (website from the 90s here) is pretty much the only place I can find where you can eat amazake ice cream or try an amazake latte. So it’s definitely worth it for the one of a kind experience. And who else can you trust to make you the best amazake but a company that has been doing it for over 200 years?
It’s near several temples and shrines including Zuikoji and a small walk from the Inari station which is next to the famous Fushimi-Inari shrine.
The hostess was very kind and offered us an English menu so don’t feel afraid on stopping by!
My man chose the traditional Amazake. Served with a spoon to eat some of the sweet rice, but mainly a drink.
I went for the Amazake Latte complete with matcha sprinkled top. Was very sweet but good.
The highlight for us both. Amazake ice cream with hazlenuts. Very light and delicious!
If the one-of-a-kind items aren’t enough maybe the atmosphere will draw you in? A lovely garden and seating areas.
Enjoy a parfait in Gion
Gion Kinana (祇園 きなな)
In the lovely old area of Gion away from the busy and tourist-packed Shijo-dori is Gion Kinana. The official name for the brand is Kyo Kinana (京きなな) but its store is named Gion Kinana. Kinana is both traditional and not. It’s founded by a Japanese chef who was making French food and finally after a few moves settled in Gion in 2004.
And why wouldn’t you want to settle in Gion? Gion looks beautiful in any light, but I do like it at twilight especially.
Kinana loved by tourists and locals alike for their seasonal ice creams and parfaits and its small amount of seating on the second floor fills up quickly.
There is an ice cream counter on the first floor but you can only buy one flavor of ice cream on the first and none of the regular menu items. My wait time was about 15 minutes before getting a seat at 5pm. They will sometimes have to split up large parties.
Gion Kinana has a small seasonal menu that rotates, but mainly stays in the yomogi, warabi, matcha traditional Kyoto sweets style.
They had two main parfaits for the season:
Left – Kinana Hapon (Nipon)
Warabi Mochi, Red Bean, White mochi with plain, seasame and yomogi ice cream.
Right – Berry Berry Kinana
Yogurt and raspberries make this a “healthy parfait” with plain, seasame and matcha ice cream.
You can also order a half scoop of ice cream and create a menu set. You can choose between the mochi and rollcake set or the mochi and pound cake set.
What did I choose? Of course the most wa one! Kinana Hapon! This also included a fresh chestnut (maron) and a shogoin yatsuhashi (聖護院八ツ橋総 | site). Yatsuhashi is a cinnamon flavored sweet made with rice flour. Shogoin yatsuhashi made these into curved cookies that are famous in Kyoto. Kit Kat even picked them as their Kyoto flavor in 2013.
I got the pound cake set which was delicious.
Although Gion Kinana is a sweets cafe do not expect to get a latte or any coffee. Only simple green tea is served here along with juice or sparkling water. The parfait was huge and although I finished I couldn’t stomach food for a long time afterwards. Definitely bring your appetite!
Google Map of all Kyoto food and sweets recommendations
Places I’ve tried and sometimes blogged about on this site. Click through and read why I think it’s a good choice.
So much good food to enjoy in Kyoto! I’ve got two upcoming sakura related posts about Kyoto and then I’ll be hoping to some other places in Japan for food and travel. But this blog is soon going to get very sakura so be prepared for the pinkness
I love blogging about Japanese local foods, read all the posts here.