Hello from Kyoto! I was at Nishiki Market (錦市場 Nishiki Ichiba) some time ago and had a BIG feast just by walking down this market which runs the length of a few blocks. Famed as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, it is one of the great places to hunt down the freshest seasonal food and authentic Kyoto specialities for locals and travellers alike.
The market has a fair offering of old and new, from historical stalls selling traditional Kyoto delights, to the new interpretation of classical Japanese street food, all under one roof. Here is the list of must-eat food that I tried, all listed down for your convenience if you’re wondering what to eat at Nishiki Market.
For quick information, you may check out my 1 minute long video below!
The first stall right at the entrance was a senbei (仙貝) stall, the very famous senbei house寺子屋本铺. Not a fan of senbei but I got myself their best seller – the seaweed senbei to try. Nice sweetness from the soy sauce, but it was a tad too dry for my liking. I would probably skip this next time, but my friends who love senbei really enjoyed it very much.
Soy Milk Donuts
As an avid tofu fan, soy milk donuts is definitely one of my favourite snacks in Kyoto. These mini donuts at Fujino Tofu’s (藤野豆乳) are light and fluffy, with a hint of crispness on the outside. While I prefer the ones at 嵯峨とうふ 稲 Arashiyama because of the stronger soy milk taste, Fujino’s are enough to fulfil my cravings for these lovely, cushiony donuts.
Dubious as it may sound, this chocolate croquette from 路井is actually quite tasty! The crispiness of the skin combining the delicious allure of hot chocolate – you’re getting the best of both worlds! Remember to get a piping hot one from them, so that you could enjoy the decadent melt-in-your-mouth, chocolatey smoothness to the fullest. A perfect snack for the chocolate lovers!
These wobbly dashi omelettes at Miki Keiran (三木雞卵) are my utmost favourite out of all food at Nishiki Market. Cooked with dashi stock, the omelette was so soft, smooth and fluffy that I went speechless after my first bite. If you’re on diet, ditch the rest and go for this life-changing Tamago rolls.
I was there during early autumn, just in time for Kyoto’s seasonal favourite: roasted chestnuts. They aren’t cheap, though. I remember it cost us about SGD 20 for a medium packet of Tanba chestnuts (丹波栗). However, it was well worth the money, as all the chestnuts sold here are carefully selected by hands, thus resulted in the big, moist and sweet chestnuts you pop into your mouth.
If you’re a fan of mochi, drop by at Nishiki Mochitsuki-ya (錦 もちつき屋) as they serve up the freshest mochi in the city. I had their grilled soy sauce dango, which was drizzled in their special soy sauce and char-grilled to the nice, smoky perfection. An instant perk-me-up during the colder season!
I discovered this rice merchant 越後屋嘉兵衛 and decided to try out their Inarizushi. The aburaage (sweet tofu skin) compliments well with the chewy Japanese rice. It was quite filling, but I didn’t regret taking them as it was just THAT good.
I was still in grief for missing the opportunity to try out the legendary Hirokawa unagi bento at Arashiyama the other day. So when I walked passed this 105 years old grilled unagi store 味彩 のと与 in the market, somehow, I knew I had to give this a chance, and the rest is history. Their grilled unagi was coated in their special soy sauce, char-grilled until the slight smokey, aromatic smell of the charcoal infused to the fish and it was just melt-in-your-mouth good. Highly recommended.
Beef Manju Bun
This beef manju bun or Nikuman is a popular snack in Japan during autumn and winter. And if you’re here in Kyoto during the colder season, make sure you try out the Nikuman in Kyoto-style. This local favourite was a creation of Hattori Ebisu Rakuan (服部ゑびす楽庵) in Gion, and is sold in several places in Kyoto, Nishiki market is one of them. The bun is chewy, with gooey braised wagyu beef and burdock roots as fillings. A perfect (and yummy) snack to hold onto during winter time!
Ok, I cheated on this one because I did not try this during the trip. I had some stomach problem and decided to give raw food a miss. However, I decided to include this into the list as it was on my wish list and I really think they look palatable. Tender bite size sashimi marinated in lemon juice and some other ingredient to its greasy, perfect-to-eat state. There were tuna and salmon to choose from, pick your favourite.
Another must-eat, or rather a must-buy at Nishiki Market is the pickles at Uchida Tsukemono-ten (内田漬物店). We love their matcha radish so much that we brought 6 packets home. This matcha flavoured radish is so rare that I don’t see them in any other Japanese supermarkets. My true-blue Kyoto friend once told me about Kyoto people’s delicate palate that they do not favour pickles with strong flavours. I think the matcha radish is one of the typical taste of Kyoto to bring home.
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