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 (十文堂)

address: 京都府京都府京都市东山区玉水町76

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.
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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.jumondo-monaka-mitarashi-dango

The monaka to make yourself were temple bells. So cute for Kyoto.

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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.

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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!

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My man chose the traditional Amazake. Served with a spoon to eat some of the sweet rice, but mainly a drink.

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I went for the Amazake Latte complete with matcha sprinkled top. Was very sweet but good.

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The highlight for us both. Amazake ice cream with hazlenuts. Very light and delicious!

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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)

address: 京都市東山区祇園町南側570-119

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :dotbow:

 

I love blogging about Japanese local foods, read all the posts here.

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Cha Kaiseki at Minoko is one of the rare cuisines to sample in Kyoto. Kyoto for being the center of cultural Japan lacks in a lot of traditional cuisine. Mainly Kyoto is known for sweets (post up coming), kaiseki and obanzai. Compared to neighbor Osaka which is known as the kitchen of Japan, Kyoto’s sickly. But the refinement of Kyoto cuisine is just lovely.

Minoko (website | english blog about it | Japanese: 美濃幸 | address:
605-0821 京都府京都市東山区 祇園下河原通清井町480) is a 100 year old teahouse which serves cha-kaiseki for lunch and full kaiseki for dinner.

Kaiseki is a multi-course meal that has origins in the tea ceremony but has developed into mini dishes change according to seasons and location of the kaiseki being held. It is an expensive and luxurious affair. Kaiseki is also known as the onsen (hot spring resort) meal and many onsens pride themselves on their kaiseki as much as their hot healing waters. Cha-kaiseki is more of a smaller relaxed meal and is usually a lunchtime event. If you’d like to learn more Kaiseki wiki english page is actually quite good.

Reservations thankfully were not required for lunch and we came early enough to be seated quickly.

I was a bit nervous so I didn’t take as many pictures as I should, I mean I was at an 100 year old teahouse that served what is thought be as high cuisine. This was not a camera moment, but I had to sneak a few. Since Minoko did lovely sakura themed items I thought I’d post it now for the upcoming flood of sakura travel posts.

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We came early enough that inside their main tearoom we got the choice spot near the garden window. Birds and turtles played in the streams inside.

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Cha-kaiseki is usually served in a black laquer bento box. Ours had two levels. First level was first meal (upper right box): a plate of vegetables and cooked fish. Second level (center) was a light fish and broccoli mix (left) along with a chawan mushi or fish custard (unopened center).

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Looking at me you can se the first course laid out on the right.

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A close-up of the delicately sauced fish and spring vegetables.

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Of course right on the left in a wooden pot and right was this lovely sakura lacquerware that held miso soup.

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Since it was a cha-kaiseki or tea-kaiseki hot green tea was kept fresh in a pot. The green jar (far right) held sweetener.

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Absolute winner for me was this pot reveal. It’s actually a fish dish in a salted light sauce, but made to look like the traditional sakura mochi. Seasonal, clever and light on the palate.

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Dessert came in the form of fresh fruit. This is typical for a lot of nicer traditional restaurants.

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Finally bowl-like cups of freshly made matcha and sweet snacks.

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Sakura!! And a peanut jelly. So sugary but worth it!

Our meal was 3,500 yen for lunch a peice ($32). Prices for dinner start at 12,000yen ($110). I highly recommend lunch. It was a great experience and the food was elegant yet filling. After the hustle and stress of traveling it was such a relaxing moment.

Update! Google Map of all of my Kyoto Food and Sweets recommendations

Other Kyoto cuisine: shojin ryori / obanzai which I sampled in Arashiyama, kaiseki courses in the heart of Gion there is Gion Endo and I ate there back in 2008 it was delicious and I still remember the food (english) and an upcoming post all about Kyoto traditional sweets.

I’m on a trend right now of food and travel | fashion | make-up/skincare and I think I’m going to follow that trend for a while in posting cycles so up next… fashion!

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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.

Saga Tofu

嵯峨とうふ (website)
address: 右京区嵯峨天龍寺北造路町46-2

Saga Tofu is on the main drag of Arashiyama near Tenryu-ji

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The top floor was for the savory diners and the bottom was for desserts.

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Obanzai contained

Chawan Mushi (egg custard)
Yomogi and Seitan sticks with fermented soy paste
Light brown miso soup
5-grain rice
Warabi which is peanut powder covered mochi
Big bowl has tofu and fermented miso in a shabu broth
Pickled vegetables
Grayish square Gomadoufu (ごま豆腐) is Homeade seasame seeds crushed and chilled like tofu

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5grain rice. Thank you nice restaurants in Japan for giving healthier options instead of just plain white rice.

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Chawan Mushi or an egg custard. Often filled with fish, this one was vegetarian.

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The main course. A hot pot of tofu, vegetables and ginger in a thick shabu sauce that was bubbling when it arrived to me.

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Warabi covered in peanut powder. The knife was to cut it, but it was still a trial to eat with.

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The Yomogi and Seitan sticks with soy paste. Sweet but not too sweet.

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You could see the lovely koyo (autumn leaves) outside.

Kumiage Yuba

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.

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My whole spread similar to the Obanzai extras. The Kumiage Yuba is on the top in an interesting bamboo-shaped pot.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yomogi Mochi Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子) dipped in fermented soy sauce. Bitter and slighty sweet mix.

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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!

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All that sweet potato and mochi. It was really delicious!!

I want to eat more traditional desserts.  :loveword:

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

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With November coming up it’s a great time to talk about my favorite season in Japan: Koyo or autumn leaves. Kyoto Koyo (葉 こうよう) is unrivaled in how seriously gorgeous it is. I previously posted about Kyoto Koyo in Tenryu-ji temple in Arashiyama, but I definitely was even more impressed by Okochi Sanso.

Near the famous Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama is Okochi Sanso. It’s a quick walk (10 minutes) out the back exit of Tenryu-ji through the famous bamboo grove then to Okochi Sanso. If you think the bamboo grove is epic, prepare for Okochi Sanso.

Okochi Sanso is a mountaintop retreat by silent film star Okochi Denjiro. After his death it has been turned into a visiting place with lovely gardens. The admission is pricey for a garden-style visit at 1,000 yen ($10) but the price does include the best place I’ve ever had tea. It’s not as stunning for sakura season, koyo is where it shines. Don’t adjust your monitors, because I didn’t adjust these pictures much. It really is that vibrant for Kyoto Koyo.

 

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In these pictures I’m really happy I got to take and show everyone enjoying it. Couples, women traveling together, old men savoring Japan. There’s just a pleasantness about it. That kind of sightseeing is so nice compared to everyone filing into the Sistine Chapel or such.

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Okochi Sanso is very high up and depending on where you’re walking around on the grounds you can see neighboring mountains. The Japanese untranslatable word Komorebi (木漏れ日) for light streaming through the trees is really evident during koyo.

The Scenic “Tea House” at Okochi Sanso

Entrance allows you to enjoy a cup of freshly whisked green tea and a green tea biscuit in gorgeous surroundings.

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Check out that technicolor entrance! Kyoto Koyo is the best especially at Okochi Sanso.

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This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve gotten to enjoy a snack ever.

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Delicious green tea biscuit and green tea. The thumb of my fun manga-eye nails I did at Avarice last year.

 

Head to Kyoto for Koyo

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Even if you decide not to hike from Tenryu-ji through the bamboo forest to Okochi Sanso, Kyoto Koyo especially in Arashiyama is amazing! The colors, the nature, the clear water, the amazing food, or the cute monkeys (post)! I’ve visited Arashiyama three times and I just can’t get bored. It’s so beautiful.

Just looking at these pictures makes me check airline prices.  :sadcat:

I have one more post about Arashiyama, this one is a restaurant recommendation, before Koyo happens. If you’re making travel plans please stay tuned!

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