Whenever I travel to a new place, I like trying a combination of the local cuisine and the most crazy places that I can find. Kyoto is known for its tofu, noodles, kaiseki (vegetarian dishes), and of course; matcha sweets (which includes green tea-flavored ice cream, parfaits, and more). Here is a list I have compiled of the most unique dining experiences I have had in Kyoto:
Gold Ramen at Zundoya
Zundoya is an extremely popular ramen chain in Japan because of their affordable and delicious bowls. In their Tokyo and and Kyoto branches, they have the option to purchase gold flakes which you can sprinkle on any ramen dish on their menu. This comes with a hefty extra 5000 yen charge, but was fun to do just for the aesthetic purpose of eating golden ramen. You can buy these gold flakes at souvenir shops in Kyoto and Kanazawa. They can be used as a topping for virtually any food due to them being flavorless.
The regular bowls of ramen are also packed with flavor! The funny thing was I came here after a music workshop with some of my Japanese friends per their recommendation. That’s when you know it’s a good place to eat!
Kichi Kichi Omurice
Omelette and rice dishes (dubbed omurice) are an extremely popular food combination in Japan, and this restaurant does it best! When you see the head chef, Yukimura Motokichi, slice a freshly baked omelette and have it perfectly melt over the rice in an almost cinematic fashion, you’ll understand why this restaurant is so popular.
This meal was seriously the best omurice I had ever tasted because the omelettes are cooked to be extremely fluffy. Since this website is so popular, it is recommended to make a reservation on their website.
Kitten Company Cafe
As the name implies, this cafe has cat-themed sweets, and is extremely vegan-friendly. I tried their vegan curry, chocolate cake, and kitten cookies. All of them were scrumptious, and I was delighted to see the curry arranged in the form of a happy cloud! No reservation is required for this restaurant, but you can see their website here.
Menbaka Fire Ramen
“NO RAMEN NO LIFE” is the English slogan that greets you at this ramen restaurant. I immediately liked the atmosphere the minute I entered. Menbaka puts a large amount of green onions and pours oil right over the dish before it is served to create an explosive fiery effect. Just watch the video of me seconds before the fire starts to burn:
The taste of the ramen is quite ordinary; maybe a little more oily but otherwise unnoticeable. It is worth going to once just to see the fire! This restaurant does not accept reservations; you must lineup and take a numbered ticket. You can explore other places in Kyoto while you are waiting, so it’s not so gruesome of a wait.
Green Tea Soba Noodles
Tsujiri Teahouse offers one of the most unique noodle dishes I’ve ever seen in my life: green tea soba and tofu in a white milk-like broth. Though that doesn’t sound appetizing at first, it actually has a refreshing taste! I ordered mine chilled and they really hit the spot. If you are feeling adventurous, this is definitely a good thing to try! In additional to noodles, there are many parfaits and sweets here. Next time I come to Kyoto, I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for more unique food like this!