The Art of Soy – Tofu in Kyoto

Shojin Ryori cuisine

Kyoto tofu is the best in the world - perfected by buddhist monks over centuries. Tofu here is varied - from the skin (yuba) to the squares in broth (yudofu) - but never bland and dull. And this also has a lot to do with how Kyoto cuisine has elevated the use of the soybean. On my visits to Kyoto, I will always hunt down some good tofu focused and "shojin ryori" (buddhist cuisine) restaurants and here are some suggestions. To note, all of the restaurants below, except for Seike Yuba,...

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Ajiro in Kyoto is the Temple for Japanese Buddhist Cuisine

Shojin Ryori cuisine

Michelin one-starred Ajiro is certainly the temple of buddhist vegetarian ("shojin ryori") cuisine with the foundation of its food being yuba, the tofu skin that Kyoto is famous for.  I've been here in both winter and summer and have enjoyed both visits immensely. Beautifully presented dishes are brought forth as we scoop the yuba from a simmering box of soy milk. So this is non-stop yuba snacking punctuated by vegetarian presentations of meat dishes. And best of all, whether it's true or...

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Isshin – For True Meat Lovers, Raw or Cooked

Isshin Kyoto

This is beef, possibly at its utmost incarnation. Isshin presents the best parts of high quality Japanese cattle, from tongue to tail, in a variety of Kyoto kaiseki inspired interpretations including one that resembles the local sushi. While I had some reservations about this 2-Star Michelin restaurant, particularly as it involves eating raw beef, it was probably the best food experience I've had in recent months. Dishes were creative but were careful to highlight the natural taste and...

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Three Lunch Options in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Hirano-ya food

If you’re in Arashiyama for a day (or more), there are three great dining options for lunch - Shigetsu, Unagiya Hirokawa and Hirano-ya. They are very different from each other and I really enjoyed all three. So, depending on your food preferences and available time, at least one of these should tick the boxes.

Shigetsu - Zen Vegetarian (Shojin Ryori)

Shigetsu is a zen buddhist vegetarian dining hall in Tenryu-ji temple. The story goes that it started with the monks cooking...

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Kyoto’s Kitcho Arashiyama – Go for the Experience Not Just the Food

Kitcho's kaiseki cuisine

Michelin 3-starred Kitcho Arashiyama is known as a temple of Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine that comes with a high price. Reviews thus, are often mixed. Having now been there in winter and summer, I say that it’s worth trying at least once because of the complete experience it offers. However, if you’re just going for the food, you can get as fulfilling a Kaiseki experience elsewhere for a lot less financial pain.

I’m a sucker for Japanese ceramics, so to see the antiques that Kitcho...

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