During our three days in Kyoto we had the opportunity to eat lunch at three restaurants, all of which ranked pretty high on our list of best meals we had while in Japan. Here is the full rundown:
Omen is a popular soba noodle restaurant with three locations in Kyoto. One of them is just down the street from Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji which makes it an easy lunch stop in between seeing some of the popular temples in the area. We each had some noodles in broth, and Alana also got some tempura and veggies with miso dip on the side. I ended up enjoying these more than she did. Overall the noodles weren’t quite as good as the ones we had at Shin Udon back in Tokyo (yeah sure, like my palate is cultured enough to tell the difference), but they were still very delicious and filling. Alana decided that she was partial to soba noodles over udon. Lunch (like most everything in Kyoto) was a little on the pricey side, but we would both still recommend it.
Price: $32 for 1 lunch set and 1 noodle bowl
Vegan Cooking Arashiyama-kan Tofu and Vegetable
I don’t remember where we first heard about this place, but it was conveniently located not too far from the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Monkey Park. We were the only two people there when we arrived. The owner was extremely polite and used Google Translate with an expert’s touch to communicate with us. He told us that the food would take a little while and that there was a temple nearby that we could check out while it was being prepared. Or at least that’s what we thought he said. He didn’t just show us the way to the temple though, he walked us the whole way there. He then showed us how to light incense at the temple and then took some pictures for us as well. After we got back to the restaurant he told us about how bamboo from the area was used to make the filament for Thomas Edison’s lightbulbs. When the food came out we were amazed by the quantity and the elaborate presentation. It was also incredibly delicious. The meal was a little expensive for our budget, but it was one of the most unique dining experiences we had in Japan.
Price: $34.5 for 1 bento and 1 noodle lunch
Togaden is a store/restaurant in the center of Kyoto that specializes in tofu products. We had amazing karaage tofu and tofu don lunch sets. We also had an order of tofu donuts. Once again, the food was delicious (honestly all of the food we had in Japan was delicious). There were also a number of other varieties of tofu included in each set. I’m not really a tofu expert, so I’m not sure what each one was, but they all tasted good. It was one of my favorite meals so far. The first floor of the building is a shop that sells specialty tofu products like the aforementioned tofu donuts, as well as other soy staples.
Edit: In the time since we were there it seems Togaden has closed permanently. I’m sorry if you got really hyped for tofu donuts after reading this post.
Price: $26 for 2 lunch sets
And once again Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Lawson get a good word for their pure affordability. Just for reference, while our lunches out usually cost around $25-35, our convenience store dinners typically only set us back $10-15.