Kyoto Restaurants and Dining
(Kyoto, Kansai, Central Honshu, Japan)
Restaurants in Kyoto fall into every conceivable price bracket and offer the ultimate in Japanese dining. Kyoto is truly one of the country's top cities when it comes to fine dining and traditional cuisine, with lunch usually being served between 11:00 to 14:00 and dining from 17:00 to 21:30, although plenty of restaurants in Kyoto remain open until gone midnight.
After you have sampled many of the tasty local dishes, if your palate is pining for a taste of home, many international-themed restaurants are easy to find in Kyoto, where families are always welcomed. The most tourist friendly restaurants in Kyoto even feature menus written in English, complete with clear photographs of the top dishes.
What to Eat
After you have made the effort to travel to Kyoto, your visit is really only complete after you have sampled a good selection of the local dishes at one of more of the city's many authentic Japanese restaurants. When dining out in Kyoto, you can except to see many of the following dishes.
- Kyoto ramen - a Chinese based noodle dish often topped with sliced pork
- Reimen - soba noodles with kimchi (spicy Korean pickles)
- Seafood - including a range of freshly caught fish, crab, eel and shrimps
- Shojinryori - tofu based, vegetarian cuisine with soy bean curd
- Sushi and sashimi - including decorative sliced raw fish, wrapped in rice and seaweed, accompanied by beer or sake
- Tempura - deep-fried portions of fish, prawns and vegetables in a light, fluffy batter
- Yakitori - skewers of grilled vegetables and seasoned pieces of chicken
Where to Eat
European-style restaurants are often located in the most touristy areas and also both in and around Kyoto's major department stores, such as Hankyu on Shijo-Kawaramachi higashi iru, where the top-floor restaurants are always popular and overlook much of the city centre. Restaurants can also be found on the seventh floor of the Kintetsu department store, in the Shimogyo-ku area of Kyoto, while for self-catering, the groceries and bakeries at the Izumiya store on Shimohakubaicho, in the Kita-ku area, are hard to beat.
The relatively new Kyoto Station is a great place to begin your search for somewhere to eat out and this modern building is brimming with restaurants, cafes and cheap eats. Especially popular here is the Cafe du Monde on the second floor, which offers good views across the central atrium. Sushi is often a prominent part of the menu in restaurants here and plenty of dining options are scattered around the complex, being grouped in small food courts. On the western side of Kyoto Station, both the 10th and 11th floors offer a particularly good selection of eateries, while outside, many further restaurants are just a short walk away.
Further restaurants and cheap dining options in Kyoto are located in the downtown district, in north-east Kyoto, and throughout the south-easterly and south-westerly regions. In particular, the Gion district, both the Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi areas and the neighbourhood around Kyoto University offer plenty of restaurants, while the Pontocho district is also known for its numerous eateries, standing alongside many bars and nightclubs. The far northerly outskirts of Kyoto also contain many additional restaurants, with the areas of Ohara, Kurama and Kibune completing the city's thriving dining scene.