Day 2: Imperial Palace & Food Market!
Destinations: Yayaoi-Ken, Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所), Nishiki Market (錦市場), Pontocho District (先斗町) [Yuzugen (柚子元), Chakobo Nagatake (茶香房 長竹) ]
AN: Hi guys, sorry for the late post. I was trying to post two times a week on Mondays and Fridays and I just realized that’s too much. So from now on, I will be posting once a week on Tuesdays, once I have more time, I will try to go back to posting twice a week. Thanks for reading this! 🙂
Our first stop of the day was breakfast. You cannot go abroad and not have breakfast. We stopped by Yayoi-Ken since it was near our hotel and served traditional Japanese breakfast.
Yayoi-Ken is a restaurant that specializes in traditional Japanese breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast is usually quite filling and consists of rice, soup and some side dishes. I placed my order using a vending machine. I ordered rice, miso soup, natto (fermented soy beans), grilled fish, karage (fried chicken), and a raw egg. You mix the raw egg with the rice (and maybe some natto) for some ooey-gooey goodness. It may sound a little bit repelling at first but it’s delicious and a must try.
Kyoto Imperial Palace (京都御所)
After breakfast, our first stop of the day was the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The Kyoto Imperial Palace served as the residence and home for many emperors until 1868 when the capital of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo.
Nishiki Market (錦市場)
After the tour, we headed towards Nishiki Market for lunch. Nishiki Market is hailed as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” with good reason. The 5 block-long shopping street is brimming with restaurants and stores selling all things food-related ranging from fresh, raw seafood to kitchen knives.
Nishiki Market sells many interesting things that you have to try, including the Tako Tamgo, which is a quail egg-stuffed octopus.
We also stopped by a takoyaki stand and ordered some octopus balls. We ordered the spring onion and tea salt flavor. It was pretty good, but to be honest, after trying it, I would have picked another flavor. But it’s a good thing that takoyaki here is relatively cheap and so you can order tons of it! But you should really save room in your stomach for fresh, raw seafood.
The vendor had various seafood laid out on the ice and you just point/tell him what you want. The prices here are pretty cheap and the food is fresh. I recommend trying the shrimp because raw shrimp is usually pretty expensive and hard to get and also because it’s incredibly creamy on the palate. They carry other kinds of seafood such as gigantic oysters and abalone.
There were two other tourists next to us and they each got an oyster. Since it was so big, they didn’t really know how to eat so they decided to slurp it down in one go, which is actually really impressive. I heard an elderly Japanese man behind me tsking in disapproval as he remarked that something like that should be enjoyed slowly. I think he was just as surprised as I was!
If raw foods aren’t your thing, the store also sells cooked versions so there is a little bit of something for everyone. But I do encourage you to try even a little bit. The best part about traveling is always the food.
After lunch, we walked around a bit more until it was time for dinner.
Pontocho District (先斗町)
The Pontocho District is an alleyway that runs parallel to the Kamogawa River and is jammed packed with various restaurants that vary in cuisines and prices.
Our first stop was Yuzugen, which is well-known for their Yuzu-flavored cuisine. We waited outside for a while as the store doesn’t open until 5PM. The chef was actually a little bit unfriendly towards us but it didn’t deter us
well, it did actually from what we wanted! I wonder if it’s because we were foreigners because he was a lot more friendly towards Japanese customers.
Yuzugen is well known for their Yuzu-flavored hot pot but we heard that you cannot order the hot pot unless you’re in a party of two people or more. When we tried to order it, he pointed at a poorly-worded English sign that basically said you cannot order in a party of two. But later on, we realized that the sign was probably trying to say that if you’re in a party of two, you must each order a hot pot. If you want to order the hot pot, it would be a good idea to go here with a larger group since each hot pot order is actually quite large.
I decided to go with the ramen instead. The yuzu ramen is light and refreshing and a pretty unique choice since I don’t think any other places serve yuzu ramen.
Chakobo Nagatake (茶香房 長竹)
After dinner, we decided on dessert. Chakobo Nagatake is a small restaurant run by an adorable, elderly couple. The store is cozy and the store owners seemed to be close with the locals. A lot of people were sitting at the bar and chatting and laughing with the owner. Apparently according to TripAdvisor, if you’re lucky you may see a maiko or geiko unwinding after dinner time. The only downside to this place is that there is no English menu and no body here speaks English so be prepared to brush up on your Japanese!
We just pointed, so whatever works yenno.
The dessert here is absolutely delicious and worth coming down here. At the end of your meal, the owners are supposed to prepare tea for you but unfortunately they kind of forgot about us. So by the time the check did come, we didn’t have enough time to have tea which is quite unfortunate but all the more reason to come back right?
End Day 2