Thursday, July 23, 2015

More Kyoto Eats

With no fixed itinerary or specific places to go while we were in Kyoto, we found ourselves just stumbling across interesting places to eat even in between our regular meals. Here are the three of them.

1. Inoda Coffee

We touched down at Osaka's Kansai Airport in the wee hours, so it's only 9am when we reached Kyoto and checked in to our hotel. After that, we decided to make a short walk to Inoda Coffee Shop, a 80-year old cafe near Sanjo.

Food-wise I have to admit it is rather forgettable if I need to be picky. Our breakfast set came with scrambled eggs, ham, fruits and a croissant, and they were pretty ordinary. Well remind me of those old Hong Kong "Bing Sat" (冰室) serving western food adopted to local flavors. So was the cup of coffee - just a standard cup of joe. But I thought it's quite nice sitting in this nostalgic dining room, well furnished in classic decor with a beautiful garden outside and reminded me sometimes it's not just the food that made you happy. Maybe their croissant not made with the rarest, artisan French butter, or their coffee not single origin organic grind and roasted by hand. Okay, but who cares?

Where? Inoda Coffee Honten. 140 Doyu-cho, Sanjo-sagaru, Sakaimachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto.
イノダコーヒ本店 京都市中京区堺町通三条下ル道祐町140

2. Kagizen Yoshifusa

After we have decided that there's no way we were going to line up for hours for a cup of sundae at the ever-popular Saryu Tsujiri at Gion, we walked across the street to Kagizen Yoshifusa, the tea lounge inside one of Kyoto's oldest Kyogashi-ya, selling traditional Japanese sweets for over 300 years.

Luckily, the line was much shorter and the best thing? We could wait in the comfort of the air-conditioned room inside, instead of having the line up outside the storefront. And they were able to seat us after a short 20-minute wait.

Kagizen Yoshifusa is best-known for Kuzukiri and Warabimochi so we ordered one of each to share.  Kuzukiri is a cold "noodles" with a jelly-like texture made of arrowroot. It's served inside a tall lacquer box in a icebath. Rather tasteless on its own, Kuzukiri suddenly came to life with the dipping of kuru-mitsu sauce, a super-sweet black sugar syrup. It's cold and refreshing with an interesting "slurpy" texture that was perfect for this kind of hot weather.

Warabimochi was another specialty in Kyoto made of bracken starch and known for its sticky texture. It's covered in kinako (soybean flour) and served with the kuru-mitsu sauce, similar to the one for kuzukiri but more syrupy. That was delicious too. 

There's nowhere else I want to be in a summer afternoon to take a break from the shopping and sightseeing at the most popular district in Kyoto.

Where? Kagizen Yoshifusa, 264 Gion machi, Kita-gawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
鍵善良房 京都市東山区祇園町北側264番地 

3. Shinshindo Bakery/Cafe

Our hotel package didn't include breakfast, so we ventured out to this historical bakery for a quick bite. Shinshindo was founded in Kyoto a hundred years ago by a French-trained Japanese baker, with the company motto "Give us today our daily bread" - yes, as in the Lord's Prayer. How cool is that?

Nowadays they operated a few branches across town selling authentic French pastries, including some with a sit-in restaurant section, including the one we went, which was literally round the corner from our hotel near Sanjo.

For breakfast, a number of items were available from a bowl of light yoghurt to a full English breakfast, completed with eggs and sausages or ham, plus salad on the side. And it came with the bread basket from which you could pick and choose your own pastries. And they were of excellent quality. The croissant was buttery and the baguette slices have a great crust.

We probably didn't spend enough time in Kyoto to make a fair judgment, but this is our favorite breakfast spot in town!

Where? Shinshindo Sanjo-Kawarakachi, Ground Floor, Royal Park Hotel, Kawaramachi Higashi-iru,Sanjo-dori,Nakagyo-ku,Kyoto
京都市中京区三条通河原町東入ル中島町74番地 ロイヤルパークホテル ザ 京都 1F

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