Bright bites of the old capital
TEA FOR TWO: Morning tea the Japanese way is elegantly served daily at Saryo Hosen in a century-old wood-and-paper house. The tearooms, surrounded by a bonsai-style mini-forest, feature ankle-high tables and flat cushions on tatami mats. The specialty is sweet warabi-mochi (bean cake), served with ground, roasted soy beans and molasses. Slippery as an oyster and as sweet as sherbet, they are tricky to eat with chopsticks. Wash down the delicacy with Kyoto-style green tea. Shimogamo, Nishitakagi-cho 25.
EAT ON THE RUN: Adjacent to the old capital’s most prestigious shopping street, the narrow, covered alley of Nishiki food market is a treasure trove of exotic food and peculiar sights that’s known locally as Kyoto’s pantry. It’s difficult to identify many of the artistically presented delicacies on display but enthusiastic stallowners are on hand with samples. Look out for kanbutsu (dried goods such as fish and seaweed), nukazuke (pickles made by fermenting vegetables in rice bran) and tofu doughnuts. After a walk along the market’s 500m length and sampling various wares, you could skip the next meal. One block north of Shijo-dori, between Teramachi-dori and Takakura-dori.
SEASON FINALE: Run by the same family for 11 generations since 1718, Chimoto offers a nine-course traditional kaiseki (multiple dish) dinner. As the Kamo River bubbles past, a trio of kimono-clad attendants serves a curated procession of local masterpieces. Everything is designed to bring the relevant season to life. Individual china, chosen to complement and enhance the senses, comes from a collection of more than 2000 catalogued pieces. Expect delights such as matsutake mushroom and sea urchin soup, barracuda and sweet prawn with eggplant puree, and ginkgo and red bean sticky rice. During summer months (June 1September 30) there’s also outdoor riverside dining, weather permitting. Shijo Sagaru Saiseki, Shimogyo-ku; chimoto.jp/en.