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Top 5 Must-Try Food in Kyoto

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Kyo-Kaiseki | Image Courtesy of Donatingpictures / Wikimedia Commons

Eating out in Kyoto is more than just tasting delicious dishes. It’s a cultural experience that would take you back to Japan’s thousand-year-long history. Located in a valley and surrounded by mountains, Kyoto offers a unique flavor of Japanese cuisine.

As the old capital serving former emperors, expect the food to be outstanding in quality and presentation.

If you’re in town, make sure that you include in your things to do in Kyoto, the following must-try food!

1. Kyo-Kaiseki

A traditional Japanese course menu that highlights Kyoto’s specialty, vegetables, and tofu. A sequence of meal serving 1 soup, 3 mains with side dishes and desserts.

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Kyo-Kaiseki Dish | Image Courtesy of Jun Seita / Flickr

Kaiseki is considered as a formal dining meal. Expect only the best from kaiseki both in terms of flavor and presentation!

2. Obanzai

Eat like a local through the homecooked food of Kyoto. Locals simply stew the fresh local vegetables of Kyoto with seasonal ingredients that make the dish last for days.

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Obanzai | Image Courtesy of Hajime NAKANO / Flickr

Vegetarians will fall in love with Kyoto because of their prominent use of vegetables in many dishes. Be careful though! Some restaurants use broth, dried bonito flakes, and mushroom to give flavors to kyo-yasai (Kyoto’s vegetables). Kyoto is indeed an interesting place for foodies!

3. Soba & Nishin Soba

If you have already noticed, Kyoto has its own charm completely different from other popular destinations in Japan. Another exciting feature of Kyoto is the quality of its water. With the abundant natural resources like rivers and mountains, Kyoto is known for food that requires high-quality water like soba, tofu, and sake.

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Nishin Soba | Image Courtesy of MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr

Kyoto compensates for what it lacks through sheer creativity of local chefs. Their lack of access to seafood in the past led to the development of different techniques of food preservation and interesting dishes. Herring soba or known as “nishin” soba where herring cooked in soy sauce and vinegar became popular is proof of Kyoto’s ingenuity. If you’re in town, don’t miss Kyoto’s soba especially nishin soba!

4. Tofu

Kyoto does not run out of impressive places to visit and food to try. Here’s another product of Kyoto’s high-quality water and local chef’s culinary skills, different types of Tofu. You can try the simplest form, yudofu. It is boiled in water with a sheet of kombu. If you want some texture in your tofu, go for agedashi. Dusted with potato starch and sometimes served with scallions on the top. If you just want a taste of tofu, try yofu. A simple by-product of tofu, its skin. A strip of tofu skin taste like ice cream but less sweet.

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Yofu | Image Courtesy of Tomoaki INABA / Flickr

Tofu is known as healthy food, a common feature of Kyoto dishes. Kyoto keeps the locals and visitors healthy all year round!

5. Green Tea Desserts

Even in desserts, Kyoto offers healthy options. From a simple beverage, green tea evolved into different food products. A tea ceremony is important in Japanese culture and green tea is often served. If you’re looking for a cultural experience, you should include a tea ceremony in your things to do in Kyoto!

Best Food in Kyoto
Photo: Matcha Dessert | Image Courtesy of cegoh / Pixabay

If you’re feeling more adventurous, head out to the streets of Kyoto and you can find many shops that sell very expensive to budget green tea products!

As travelers, you are used to doing things on our own with the help of fellow travelers through online sources. However, the information you get from locals especially in Kyoto is valuable in both trip planning and actual experience. Luckily, Kyoto Localize offers free walking tours that cover culture, religion, food, and history of Japan as told by the sights of Kyoto. Depending on your preference, through knowledge as told by locals in free walking tours of Kyoto Localized, you can modify your planned Kyoto itinerary. Joining a free walking tour gives you an overview of where you like to spend your limited time, energy and budget around Kyoto!

There are many things to do in Kyoto, but you should make sure you get the most out of your Japan trip through joining free walking tours in Kyoto — you’ll get the most interesting tips and secrets as told by a local!

About the writer

Rocel is a believer of living life to the fullest through creating memories with her loved ones – family, friends, and self. One of the things she enjoys doing with them is travelling where they get to experience new cultures, new cuisines, new stories to share and memories to look back. In 2018 alone, she travelled to 6 continents which exposed her to the world’s wonders. After all those trips, Japan is still one of her favorite countries because of its unique and rich culture and natural resources. She lived and studied in Tokyo, Japan for one year where she developed deeper love and appreciation towards the country.


Kyoto is the heart of Japan and has rich history and culture. Our walking tours will show you why. On our Walking Tours you will learn about the Old and New Kyoto, tradition, religion, history, food, and culture. Free Walking Tours in Kyoto | Kyoto Walking Tours. Book your free walking tour of Kyoto today.


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