Udon: Udon restaurant at the mouth of Ryoanji

Belated Happy New Years! I promise the Japan masterpost will only go on for a few more months : P

I was not as careful recording the names of everywhere we ate in Kyoto (the idea to do my 'Eating' series had not formed at the time) so I'm sorry if some of these are very vague and not helpful if you're planning to find the restaurants.

Kyoto was very much our 'traditional Japan and nature' city so we tried our best to find traditional Japanese cuisine for our meals. It didn't always work out - see Coffee Workshop - but even 'Western' foods in Japan taste quite different to what you may expect in Australia. But I definitely urge you to give the following a try, especially the waffles (funnily enough, one of the only western foods we ate in Kyoto).

Ramen: Shijo-dori

Castella (カステラ) cake: Patisserie Gion Sakai

Warabi mochi

Waffles: Manneken (マネケン)


We stopped by an udon restaurant at the mouth of the entrance of Ryoanji. As with all restaurants tucked conveniently in popular tourist destinations, the food was slightly pricier than usual. Two bowls of steaming hot udon set us back maybe 2000 yen.

The kitsune udon is a must-have - the broth was lightly flavoured and the tofu was light and slightly sweet - though we wished there was more of it. The mushroom udon had a thick, gingery broth which was great for my worsening cold and a fresh variety of mushrooms


I've forgotten the name of this ramen restaurant. It's a small, family-run place to the side of the little brook near Kawaramachi station with a very bright, loud exterior. The pork ramen had vivid broth - perhaps a little salty and rich for me - and generous servings.

I was coming down with a bad cold, after a day of wandering in Kiyomizu, and so this dinner is a little woozy in my memory. The standout favourite was the corn ramen though - the broth was slightly sweeter and not as oily.


We dropped into this famous Kyoto bakery to admire the roll cake that all the Japanese tourists seemed to be buying as a souvenir. The cake is simply a green tea sponge alternating with vanilla sponge, with a layer of green tea frosting on the outside and a hole in the middle. It was perfectly nice to eat, but not something I would personally buy as a gift, perhaps because I look for more unique flavours. It did make for a striking gift.

The store had a beautifully packaged selection of sweets and cakes that would have made amazing gifts but, unfortunately, does not keep very well. Because we still had over a week left in Japan, it was impossible to bring any of the fresh cakes home as souvenirs, which is a huge pity. Make sure you check the 'Best Before' dates on any omiyage you purchase, even if it's packaged. A lot of mochi could only keep for a couple of days.

The little patisserie cakes displayed looked too good to eat - you can see photos at my Tale of Two Cities post at Images from Nowhere.

Patisserie Gion Sakai 215 Nakano-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto


I am not someone who particularly enjoys mochi but warabi mochi genuinely surprised me. Coated in a fine powdery layer of soybean (kinako) paste, the mochi is ridiculously soft and fresh, not at all hard to chew. Sadly, I ate a few too many of these (and samples from Kiyomizu) after V bought a box and now I have a bit of an aversion to the thought of mochi in general.


If you visit Manneken in autumn, the amazing fragrance of maple and pastry will probably hit you before you see the shop - at least it did for us at the JR Kyoto station and literally stopped us in our tracks. The waffles got a bit cold because we carried them around but the flavours were great and we bought four to share for the shinkansen trip to Tokyo.

Recommended flavours: Sweet purple potato (murasaki-imo/紫いも), maple and almond.

Manneken JR京都駅店 〒600-8216 京都市下京区烏丸通塩小路下ル東塩小路町 Opening: 07:00~21:00