Kinkakuji and Izakaya in Kyoto

kinkakujiMy mother and I were off to Kyoto for a much-needed relaxation. The last few days in Chiba required us to take care of some business and fulfill family obligation so we were definitely looking forward to spending the stress-free week in the cultural and culinary capitol of Japan. We stayed at my other aunt and uncle’s house (my mother’s sister), located in the middle of all the historical action of the city. It was very strange to walk on the streets of Kyoto and find Seven Eleven sitting right next to a 1,000-year-old castle!

Our fist stop was to visit Kinkakuji, a gold covered, pimped out temple built in 1397 known as “Golden Pavilion Temple.” I was still very young when I was here last so it gave me the different perspective and a greater appreciation for this breathtaking piece of history.

green-teaMy mother, my aunt and I stopped at a tea shop and enjoyed a real matcha tea at Kinkakuji. Unlike the green tea Frappacino many of us are accustomed to, the traditional kind is very rich and bitter which is why it is usually enjoyed with a small piece of Japanese sweet. It was a perfect place to enjoy the scenery (people-watching in Japan is so much fun!) and rest our tired feet from walking around the temple.

After we got home and rested a little more, the family took us to a neighborhood izakaya called Sou for dinner. It was a traditional izakaya, the Japanese style tapas that offer small individual dishes, but all the waiters were all young, modern and very good looking. But what took center stage this night was not the hot waiters but the wonderful conversation with sweet Aunt Shigeko and Uncle Toru, my lovely cousin Chiaki and her charming husband Toshio and my partner-in-crime mother. Food, however, was a close second. Just take a look!




The sashimi platter


Crisp assorted tempura


Eggplant dengaku (miso sauce)


This is a dish called, “dobinmushi.”  Inside are incredibly aromatic matsutake mushrooms and other seasonal ingredients swimming in simple broth. You drink the broth and eat everything else.


Egg filled with cooked anago (saltwater eel)


Chicken karaage


Rolled cabbage (ground beef wrapped in cabbage leaves, simmered in special ketchup-based sauce)


All dinner ends with some kind of rice dish. This is how the rice came in!


Rice with shirasu and umeboshi


This is how it looks when served


Rice with salmon


Rice with salmon, with salmon roe on top


Green tea ice cream with fried gyuhi (textured like mochi)

5 thoughts on “Kinkakuji and Izakaya in Kyoto

  1. Awww. Kyoto is the best and the MOST traditional in Japan. I, too, love everything there, the scenery, food, castles…
    But it’s interesting this restaurant had cheese and demigra sauce because most places are very traditional. I wonder how people don’t get fat there… I mean Japanese food is normally healthy with grains, fish protein, seaweeds, root vegetables etc. but all that tempura and karaage! (I’m hoping all that food was for the group, not just for you! LOL) I guess all the walking and small portions make it ok to enjoy varieties of dishes.
    I have to take you to Torafuku in WLA especially after I saw these rice dishes. Aaarrgghh!

  2. Hi Saori. Oh yeah, Kyoto rules. I liked it way better than Tokyo. I agree that this izakaya was pretty adventurous for serving western-inspired dishes with cheese and stuff, but I also think that these dishes have officially become Japanese food just like corquet or curry rice 🙂 I wondered why Japanese people don’t get fat either but I think it all comes down to portion control. I noticed that they all eat like birds! They can’t even finish a Big Mac by themselves! I really want to go back to that lifestyle where I know when to stop eating!

  3. Oooh those pics are giving me goosebumps…why couldn’t you take me with you!! I remember going to Kyoto and visiting Kinkakuji after high school. I also wish I could go back now that I’m older to really appreciate the history. And I’ll definitely have to go find Sou! Hope you’re having a wonderful trip!

  4. Hi Keizo!

    I totally thought of you when I was in Japan because I remembered your delicious ramen posts from Japan when you were there! It was so nice to visit Japan again as an adult … it gave me a whole different appreciation about the culture and, yes, food!

    Have you ever lived in Japan?

    Great to hear from you!


  5. Pingback: Summer Holyday in Japan 2009 – Day 5: Second time in Kyoto | TheTechMatterAnswer

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