Kyoto's top 5 street food restaurants
These hidden gems in Japan’s culture capital offer the best fast-food favourites - from ramen and yakitori to traditional soba noodles.
- February 2020
Street food in Kyoto is something else. Whether it's organic chicken yakitori or make-your-own gourmet sushi, a hidden ramen joint or Japan’s oldest family run restaurant, and omurice – an omelette and fried rice combo – served in theatrical fashion, here’s where to go for the best street eats in Kyoto.
Control freaks and frustrated chefs, rejoice: you can have your sushi exactly how you like it if you make it yourself. In a beautifully modernist renovated machiya with communal tables, you’ll be served a tray of very photogenic toppings and condiments and all the elements you need to assemble your own sushi feast. Don’t forget your camera.
There’s good, cheap yakitori – charcoal-grilled chicken – all over Kyoto, but Tsujiya takes it up a notch, with locally sourced ingredients including organic, free-range Nanatani chickens. The slightly sweet, smoky house sauce, which they’ve been perfecting for 40 years, is finger-licking good. Order some cool, creamy tofu made at the local Nanzenji Temple as the perfect foil to the rich, smoky dishes.
No Name Ramen
The first trick is to find it. No signs, just a dark staircase below a café in Nakagyo Ward, Ebisucho. Lucky diners will find the space opens out to a chic courtyard garden and a sleek concrete counter. Use the touch screen to choose your custom ramen, topped with slices of braised pork belly or wagyu beef, hand over your ticket and await your steaming bowl of umami rich chicken-based soup with perfectly chewy noodles.
Omurice, a fluffy omelette on a bed of tasty fried rice, is classic Japanese comfort food. Chef Yukimura Motokichi adds a touch of theatre to his cooking, with his signature red hat, a love of flame and a mesmerising technique for shaping the omelette. It’s filling and the perfect fuel for a day of temple traipsing. With just eight counter seats available, it’s worth making a reservation.
Taste history at Japan’s oldest family-run restaurant, which started as a sweet shop in 1465, then began supplying soba noodles to local temples around 1700. The specialty, Hourai Soba, is a set of cold buckwheat noodles with fresh toppings including finely sliced Japanese leeks, grated daikon radish and shredded omelette, with a side of light and crispy tempura prawns. Save room for some traditional sweets such as the soba warabi mochi, delicate jellies made of bracken starch and dusted with roasted buckwheat flour.