Kansai is a region of Japan full of history, culture…and food. Two former capitals of Japan reside in the Kansai region and we will be stopping in to both (Nara and Kyoto). I also mentioned previously the term “Kuidaore” came from Osaka. I will try hard not to go bankrupt over food, but we will see. This post took a long time to write because it was so hard to decide on what I could reasonably eat. I can’t put 15 different restaurants down and call it good.
So, I was off to Youtube. I have watched SO. MANY. food videos in the last 1-2 weeks. Here is what I have been able to narrow it down to, though that will likely change.
Kyoto was hard for me. I knew we wanted to go to Nishiki Market. We actually found a private tour the included this 5 block maze of food and color. I haven’t been able to narrow down what there I want to eat, but maybe I just need to let go and go in without a plan.
I’ve seen everything sold here in the videos I’ve watched – dumplings, sweets, fish, meat, teas, spices, and even little octopus with eggs stuffed in their heads. It seems like nearly everything here is on sticks or can easily be consumed by hand. A lot of shops also have samplers out to try before you buy.
Shishin Samurai Cafe & Bar
I initially had mixed feelings about this one, even though it was rated highly. Tokyo was supposed to be our crazy, themed location. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to another themed cafe outside of the big city. Kyoto feels like it needs to be more…traditional for us. However, it seems that the “theme” of Shishin is only related to samurai in that it serves what actual samurai ate! That’s definitely a theme I can get behind!
The owner says his mission is to capture the spirit of Samurai. The restaurant is based around food, culture, and the bushido spirit…or, what causes war, what prevents war, and the ultimate goal of peace. They have a Samurai dinner course I want to try, which features all their main meals that actual samurai loved. Apparently Tokugawa Ieyasu was fond of baked miso with ginger and sesame!
Gyatei is a obanzai style buffet. Obanzai means a more traditional, “soul food of Kyoto” kind of meal. It’s what you would expect to eat within a home and is comforting to people from the area. I always like eating what the locals do, and considering this is a buffet, we can hopefully try out a lot! I also like that this one is (likely) not going to have many tourists there. I found this gem when I was searching for places that cooks with yuba, or the skim taken from the top of soy milk.
We only plan to stop in Nara for a few hours as we move from Kyoto to Osaka. We plan to feed the deer and see the Daibutsu in Todaiji. Daibutsu are giant bronze Buddha statue, by the way.
I would really like to grab something small (a sweet) from Mizutani Chaya, which is a teahouse located within the Nara Park area. It closes by 4:00pm however. Since we will be stopping in Nara right after our tea tour, we will have to run to see Todaiji before it closes, I don’t know if we will actually get to eat here. It is very picturesque though, isn’t it?
We most likely will try and find a hot sweet potato vendor on the street for a snack. Mmmm, Japanese sweet potato is one of my favorites.
The husbando’s favourite Japanese food is…takoyaki, or fried octopus balls! I do admit they are delicious, but I don’t wolf them down like he does. As such, we knew we had to get some in Osaka, where the recipe was created. This museum teaches you about its history, how to make takoyaki, sample different kinds, and make a fake food sample (which I am in love with Japanese fake food).
Also known as, that place with the dancing crab sign. At least, I call it that. Kani Douraku specializes in crab. I just want to get a crab leg here. I’ve heard it is amazingly juicy and sweet.
Kushikatsu are fried things on a stick. It’s a different frying style then tempura. Think panko bread crumbs. Now, the line for this gets long. Kushikatsu Daruma is the most famous, but if the line is too long, I would be willing to head to a different kushikatsu place.
We know we want to eat Osaka-style okonomiyaki but aren’t sure where yet.
We will also likely be having a meal at Tempozan Marketplace, near the aquarium. Because of COURSE I would be going to the Aquarium while there. The Osaka Aquarium has a whale shark, and I love her.
A religious event/festival will be taking place in Minoh, a city about 30 minutes from Osaka, while we are there. We are considering going for a few hours in the morning to witness what a Buddhist religious festival looks like. I would also be curious to speak to one of our tour guides, to see if they can explain the rite to us a bit more in advance.
Admittedly, Jay and I may be using the festival as an excuse, since we have wanted to try one of Minoh’s food specialties for years – momiji tempura, or maple leaf tempura. Great Big Story did a video on the Hisakuni shop at the beginning of 2018, which I am showing here.