8 Must-Try Japanese Street Food in Kyoto

8 Must-Try Japanese Street Food in Kyoto

Takoyaki anyone? Don't leave Kyoto, Japan without trying their delicious street food.

kyoto street food

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. – James Beard

Umami” is a term distinct with Japan. Umami means savoury. Everywhere you go in Japan, be it a street food or a restaurant, you will definitely taste umami in its finest. Through the years, the Japanese developed layering its flavours. Since Buddhist people are usually vegetarians, the Japanese learned to cook without meat by enriching its flavours. Their food is umami heavy since they use a lot of soy sauce, condiments, dashi (cooking stock), and the like.

Also read: 12 Underrated Foods You Should Never Leave Japan Without Trying

While we were in Japan, we decided to focus on street food finds. We were also able to stumble upon local restaurant gems. So, what did we eat? Here is a preview.

1. Takoyaki or octopus balls

What is it? Considered to be a Japanese snack, takoyaki or octopus balls is made out of wheat flour batter with diced octopus or tako, tempura scraps, green onion, pickled ginger cooked in a special pan. The takoyaki is brushed with takoyaki sauce, sprinkled with aonori (green seaweed) and dried bonito flakes (katsuobashi).

Love it or Hate it? Love it! This street food find surely hits a spot and we both wished we ate more than a dozen! It was served really hot. The sauce complements the taste of the batter itself, and is somewhat sweet. In each bite you can taste the seafood goodness of the octopus. What’s not to like with that?!

2. Tamagoyaki

What is it? Can also be called Dashimaki, literally means grilled egg or simply called Japanese omelette. It is usually prepared in a rectangular omelette pan and they roll it together to achieve the layers. Usually served during breakfast but you can also find this in a sushi menu.

Love it or Hate it? Love it! The Tamagoyaki was still hot when we had it and the eggs are as fluffy as it can be. The eggs are so light that you want to order another round. This can be found at Nishiki Market and one of the famous must try.

3. Tako Tamago or octopus stuffed with quail eggs

What is it? Literally, it’s a baby octopus with a quail egg inside, candied and skewered.

Love it or Hate it? Love it! We couldn’t help but to buy one when we passed it. The Tako Tamago is chewy and savory with a hint of salty and sweet. The quail egg inside is a nice twist on your bite.

4. Dango or Japanese sweet dumpling

What is it? It is a Japanese sweet dumpling made of mochiko or rice flour. It is often served on skewers, served all year long. Dango has different types of flavours, depending where you are in the Japanese region. It also best paired with green tea.

Love it or Hate it? You will notice, it’s everywhere and thus piqued our interest. We find it Meh! If you see one, get one just for the sake of it.

5. Fried fish cakes

What is it? A paste is made out of fish, salt, and other ingredients. The paste is then mixed with flour to make it compact and best served deep fried. Different types of seafood can also be made into a paste.

Love it or Hate it? Love it! Everywhere in Asia, you will find a variety of this fish cake. Different shape and different ingredients but almost taste the same. Our advice is order one on the side of the road and taste it! You might probably end up loving it.

6. Matcha ice cream or green tea ice cream

What is it? Ice cream flavoured matcha or green tea. This flavour is mostly popular in Asian countries.

Love it or Hate it? Hate it! It was getting hot during the day so we decided to eat something cold. Kyoto is known for its green tea. If you love green tea, you will surely love Kyoto. However, we did not like the green tea ice cream because it was too bitter for our taste. Probably, with a little bit more sweetness with it, we would love it.

7. Yuba or tofu skin

What is it? A product of soybeans. When soy milk is boiled, a skin appears on the surface.

Love it or Hate it? Love it! At the middle of the bento box is Yuba. It was mixed with some soy sauce and the taste is very silky. Definitely, melts in your mouth. Oh, and the bento box preparation in Japan is just awesome!

8. Yukke or Japanese steak tartare

What is it? The Japanese version of steak tartare. They usually use the tenderest part of the beef, served with sesame seeds, spices, green onions, and raw egg yolk.

Love it or Hate it? Love it! Nothing wrong with a steak tartare wherever you go. Asian or French, we are up for it!

Also read: The 100+ Things You Should Definitely Do In Kyoto

We were also able to taste wagyu beef while in Japan and sadly, we forgot to take a picture of it. We would also love to try to eat kobe beef while we were there but since it was during peak season, it was very difficult to get in to some specialty restaurants without reservation. If you also have time, eat a kaiseki (vegetarian) meal while in Kyoto.

In general, we enjoyed our street food finds and still daydreaming of the best takoyaki and tamagoyaki we ever ate.

Contributed by A Travelogue by Brock and Tanj.

About Author

Brock and Tangerine

Brock and Tangerine are husband and wife, who documents their life and travels at A Travelogue by Brock and Tanj. They have been expats for the last 10 years, and have lived in 4 countries across 3 continents with dogs in tow. Currently, they are on a mission to see 100 countries and are halfway there!

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