Eating out in Kyoto

At the underground malls beneath Kyoto JR Station,  we went pass one restaurant after another looking for something to eat for dinner. We kept looking at all the food displays and they all look so good and they made us even hungrier. And we couldn't decide! Finally, we narrowed down the choice to noodles because I wanted to have ramen.

Fake plastic food display. They look so edible!

Mouth watering desserts. And they're not even real!

I noticed that the plastic food displays are usually seen on busy streets and shopping malls. I've been to several restaurants on smaller streets and they don't have these food display. I'm not sure if it's because they are already well known for what they sell or there aren't many other restaurants nearby so they don't need to grab the  passerby's attention.

In front of Okakita. No plastic food display and the 'signboard' is the lamp at the entrance.

We were planning to have udon at Yamamoto Menzo because they serve cheap and tasty udon. By the time we got there, it was almost 2pm and there was already a line. We were very hungry and we don't know how to ask how long the waiting time is, so we went next door to Okakita instead. Okakita serves good udon too but they have a much nicer decor. Luckily we could read Okakita in Japanese to confirm that this is indeed the place. Hehe. As I went in, I had the impression that the price would be quite high. So I was pleasantly surprised that they have noodles for less than 1000 yen.

In the evening, the Pontocho district comes to live when all the restaurants, bars, tea houses, cafes, pubs, and karaoke centers open.  It consists of two narrow streets between Sanjo-dori (3rd St) and Shijo-dori (4th St). One of the streets is next to the Kamo river and the restaurants on one side of this street have outdoor seating, overlooking the river. Most of the establishments on this street seem to be more refined. The other street is divided by a canal and is packed with people hanging around outside the shops. It was very crowded on a Saturday night and it felt like walking through a Christmas market in Germany on weekends. We only managed to walk halfway down the street as the rain made it very difficult to maneuver while holding an umbrella.

Back of the restaurants with outdoor seating along the Kamo river

The front of the restaurants at the narrow street in Pontocho

In restaurants that we went to, we were almost always given a pair of wooden chopsticks. They are of the same disposable kind that you get when you buy take-out. I just find it odd that they don't use proper chopsticks when they bothered to serve the food using nice tableware. Surprisingly, there's nice chopstick holder on the table too! So why? Perhaps for hygiene reasons?

We were fine with just the chopsticks so I'm not sure if the restaurants have forks. Most of the restaurants we went to have English menu though. Sometimes we were automatically given English menu and sometimes we had to ask for it. However, most of the staff do not speak much English! They did not attempt to speak to me in English at all. I was always spoken to in Japanese and somehow, I managed to understand them. I guess after living in non-English speaking countries for a few years, I became rather good at making sense of whole sentences from combining the current context with the few words that I understood. Hahaha.


    I had wanted to buy those plastic food thingy but they're actually kinda pricey :S


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