Posts for Tag: kyoto

Kurakura izakaya and Wako Isetan for tonkatsu

For our last dinner in Kyoto, we stopped by our favorite izakaya in the area, Kurakura. This is a favorite with locals and we were lucky to have a local friend join us for dinner. We started with a house appetizer of potato salad, stewed tuna, and black sesame tofu. We then moved on to eggplant stewed in dashi, little fish tempura, a healthy tuna salad with a tangy sesame dressing, fried renkon, large grilled squid, and grilled ayu (sweet fish). All simply prepared and delicious. For dessert, we were treated to homemade warabi mochi. If you ever get a chance to try this, do it! It's an amazing flavor that's not too sweet yet still quite satisfying as an end of meal dish.

The next day, we were getting ready for our shinkansen back to Tokyo and decided to grab lunch at Kyoto station. We had not yet enjoyed tonkatsu so wanted to have that. Our local friend recommended their reigning favorite, Katsukura at Kyoto station. However, we got lost amidst the rows of restaurants at The Cube mall attached to the station and ended up at another tonkatsu place, Wako Isetan, by mistake. Not a bad thing since it was really good! This place is super kid friendly with toys and candy for my daughter alongside a hearty kid's meal. I decided on the standard kurobuta (black pig) while my wife got a set that included tempura shrimp and clams. A great way to fill us up for the train ride back to Tokyo!

Komeda’s Coffee and whisky @ Yamazaki

Every time we’re in Kyoto, we make the quick train ride over to Yamazaki to buy whisky at the Suntory Distillery. For breakfast, we headed to our favorite coffee shop, Komeda’s Coffee, for some good strong coffee and the best egg salad sandwiches. New on the menu was a hearty tonkatsu sandwich which was crispy and juicy. The little one got her usual flaky pastry with soft serve on top, this time with strawberry sauce on top. Seems strawberries are in season!

With the popularity of Japanese whisky at an all time high, there are no longer good buys at the distillery itself. Aged whiskies are pretty much gone and the bottles that can be bought at the distillery can also be bought at most shops in Japan. Instead, the reason to go visit the distillery (besides the beautiful nature) is to drink some of the best whiskies in the world at extremely reasonable prices. Below is my line up of pours which ranged from a 12 Year Puncheon Cask (extremely good and can only be had at the distillery) to a 30 Year Hibiki. Prices ranged from as little as 300 yen (less than $3) to at most 2,900 yen (about $26). I've seen places in the states charge $15-$20 just for a pour of 12 Year Yamazaki so $26 for a pour from a $3,000+ bottle seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Heading back to Tokyo - Tagoto @ The Cube

We headed back to Tokyo after our time in Kyoto. We'll miss the city, the food, and our friends. Of course we took the shinkansen again (love that JR Pass!).

Instead of doing bento on the train, we had time to grab lunch at Kyoto station. The station itself is massive. Imagine a large shopping mall attached to one of the busiest train exchanges in Japan. There were too many high quality restaurants to choose from so we just ended up going to a place that had a little of everything. Tagoto @ The Cube (the big department store in the station) mainly has soba but pairs it with other dishes. On the 11th floor of the building, it overlooks the Kyoto station below for an amazing view. We got one with unagi rice and another with sabazushi which is an older style of sushi with pickled mackerel wrapped in kombu. It was a simple and quick meal which was delicious. We boarded the train happy and satisfied for the ride back to Tokyo!

Nara Park - Deer - Maguro Koya

The main reason for our trip to Japan was for my daughter to see her favorite animal - DEERS! Nara Park was on her wish list for a while because it's where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of deer are allowed to roam free with no fear. We took the one hour train from Kyoto and made our way to the park. All the iconography in the city are deer related, including street signs, buses, and even manhole covers!

Once you enter the park, you are immediately swarmed by deer looking for you to feed them deer crackers (can be purchased from vendors throughout the park for 150 yen). It went from cute petting zoo to aggressive head butting quite quickly! For those who plan to take small kids, just be aware that these are wild animals and many are not docile. I was butted quite often when I had crackers in my hand and even nipped a couple of times. The deer will leave you alone if you don't have crackers so if you don't want the attention, just don't have any in your hand. With all that said, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience for us to be so close to the deer.

Aside from the deer, a big highlight of the park is the huge Buddha statue at the Todai-ji Temple. The temple itself is huge and beautiful. The large statue of the Buddha is a site to behold. Be sure to walk all the way around and see the statue from all angles.

On the way back to the train station, we stopped by a tuna restaurant called Maguro Koya. It's tucked in a side alley and looks completely unassuming from the outside. Inside, is no different with a simple setup for the husband and wife establishment. As the name suggests, they serve mainly tuna and it does not disappoint. We got meal sets of maguro, chutoro, and otoro. No fancy presentations, just sliced supremely high quality tuna served with miso soup and rice. If you are a tuna sashimi fan, this place will exceed expectations.

Breakfast at Komeda's Coffee

We're heading to Nara Park today and stopped at Komeda's Coffee for breakfast. Another favorite of ours for the egg salad sandwich. Have not been able to find an egg salad sandwich in the US that is as fluffy and delicate. Plus the fresh baked bread is outstanding. Perfectly toasted!