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Friday, July 13, 2012

JAPAN 2012 PART 2: Kyoto

My bf and I both loved Kyoto! A lot more cultural sights and interesting things to see. And the maccha (green tea) is sooo good! They are known for it here. I definitely ate my fair share of it!

**A helpful tip: when you go, just get the 1 Day bus pass for 500Yen. It'll take you almost anywhere you need to go. If you buy per ride, it's 220Yen PER RIDE!! Crazy.**

We spent a full day there. Then decided to go back for another half day where we did a traditional tea ceremony. Well, not the full ceremony but an hour long thing where they demonstrate what is done during the ceremony and then we get to mix our own tea. It was pretty neat. The place is called "En" and she can conduct the ceremony in English.  

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion). You have to buy a ticket to go in and see the temple, but it's beautiful. I would recommend seeing this.
- Green Tea Soft Serve 250Yen~ They sell this before you exit the exhibit. Normally I'm not into green tea ice cream but this was delicious. So much green tea flavor!! :) And the price was pretty good considering it's part of the tourist attraction. Some other places sell these ice creams for 300-350Yen.
- Haagen Dazs Vending Machine!! FREAKING. AWESOME. These were everywhere in Kyoto. But we ate so much that I didn't get to try it. And then once we were in Tokyo, they don't have anymore... I was sad. I should've gotten it in Kyoto!

Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion). There were lots of shops and food vendors along the route to get to the entrance of Ginkakuji. You also have to buy a ticket to get in. We opted not to...
- Ichimi Senbei Rice Cake (sprinkled powder of red pepper on soy sauce flavor, very spicy) 150Yen~ Looked better than it tasted. I wasn't a huge fan.
- Green Tea Cream Puff 300Yen~ Yum Yum YUM!!! The puff is made with brown rice too. Different than your typical cream puffs.

Gion is a place you must go when in Kyoto. You will see more women in Geisha attire there. Most are just in kimonos and have their hair done nicely, but we were able to see one lady in full Geisha attire. It was pretty cool. Just don't stalk them and take pictures. They don't like that...
- Issen-Yoshoku (spring onion, egg, dried shrimp, gilled fish paste, dried bonito, beef, ginger, tempura batter, konjak jelly, flour) 650Yen~ It's a kind of Okonomiyaki but Kyoto style. We found this place after walking thru Gion. They were making these things in front of the restaurant and it smelled really good. I wasn't a fan. I didn't like some of the elements in there such as the dried shrimp. I think a traditional Okonomiyaki is still better.

Gion Kinana. I read about this place on another blog. It sounded really interesting and I've never seen ice cream served in this shape. It's kind of hard to find... It's on a smaller side street from the main Gion street. You can't order 1 and share, we were asked to order for each of us. And tea is served with everything.
- Kinako "Dekitate" Ice Cream (roast soybean flour) 525Yen~ This is the recommended item. I don't know HOW they make this...but it is one of the best ice creams I've ever had. The texture is sooo silky and luxurious. And the flavor was interesting and yummy. It's pricey but worth the experience!
- Ice Cream Trio (kuromitsu - black sugar syrup, vanilla, kurogoma - black sesame) 735Yen~ I ended up getting this. After eating the Kinako, these ice creams just didn't compare. It felt more watery and icy. The texture was definitely not as delicate. The flavors were ok. The black sugar was my favorite. The other two weren't that spectacular. I'd say just get the Kinako. You won't regret it!

Ramen Street - Kyoto Station. Before heading back to Osaka for the night. We hit this up at Kyoto Station. It's pretty cool... About 8 different stalls/restaurants to choose from. You order through a machine and give the printouts to the waitress.
- Ramen 680Yen~ This was really good. The broth was simple yet flavorful. The noodle texture is spot on, as always. Satisfying without being heavy.
- Fried Rice (add-on) 200Yen~ Pretty standard fried rice. Had good flavor and rice had good texture. I liked it. :)

The 2nd day before our tea ceremony we found this little restaurant for some home-cooked Japanese meals.
Asuka. They do have English menu and the old couple that runs it speaks very limited English but it's better than nothing!
Set Menu (Teishoku) - served with rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles. The miso soup was really good.
- Fried Chicken (karaage, Japanese style) 850Yen~ Love me some karaage. The chicken was moist and crispy and full of flavor. It was a big meal! The price wasn't bad either.
- Grilled Pacific Saury (Sanma yaki) 850Yen~ The fish was good but I didn't realize it would have sooo many bones! It took too long to pick all the bones out... They were running a special and all set menu items also came with tofu. :) Kyoto is also known for tofu. It was silky and soft. You can pour soy sauce on it yourself. Tasty!

Jouvencelle. We also read about this place on a blog. It sounded soooo interesting. It was close to our bus stop so we went to look for it. It's a cute little cafe on the 2nd floor. I think this is at the top of my list of all the food places we visited on the trip. We started off with some green tea chocolate candies. They were delicious.
- Maccha Chocolate Fondue (Strawberry, banana, peach, yams, different types of mochi, roasted chestnut, pound cake, and green tea pound cake) 1260Yen~ This was a little pricey, but SO cool. The green tea chocolate fondue on it's own is pretty amazing. I enjoyed all the dipping items too. I think the mochis were my favorite.
Afterwards they pour hot milk into the remainder of the fondue and it becomes a latte! We left too little of the chocolate left so it was mostly just milk. haha. But something fun to share with friends and can also be romantic.

Kyoto was great. I wish I could have more green tea desserts right now. Definitely the best green tea food items I've had in my life. The sights weren't shabby either.

On to Tokyo!


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