After our day at Nara we decided to head to the Gion district and seek out some Geishas. Kyoto was the original capital of Japan and when I think of Kyoto I think of geishas. Geishas are female entertainers and commonly thought of as a host. Geishas are not what they used to be, but they still exist and you can dine with them or maiko (apprentice geisha, or geishas in traning) in restaurants in Kyoto. That is actually a costly experience and a lot of the foods I didn't think would work for all of us. Instead, we decided just to go walk around Gion, the area where geishas would most commonly be found. Sometimes you can find them walking around, but I think it depends on the time of day.
On the way we stopped for dinner. I spotted this cute looking little shop specializing in udon. The restaurant was right on the canal with a little bridge and a tree that seriously looked fake because it was so perfect.
We ended up ordering soba, not udon, and it was very good. Rachel had one with some vegetables and egg.
Mine had veggies, large mushrooms and some fish cake.
We also split some tempura veggies.
Ryan wasn't really in the mood for any of this, so he held out and went back to a falafel place he spotted. Not Falafel Garden, but another place.
Then we kept walking around, heading in the direction of Gion. This is the same street where the udon restaurant is.
Here are some photos from Gion. It was later at night so there were no Geisha spottings and it was late at night so it is dark, but I still took a few photos as we walked around.
The little alley ways with old style building were really cute. I don't think any of the restaurants would have anything I could eat and the menus were not in English. But they looked really cute.
We finally spotted a liquor vending machine.
As we walked along the river down a smaller street that looked somewhat residential, we stumbled upon JAM Hostel. The sake bar was what caught my eye, so we went in.
We had yet to have sake (this trip) and I wanted my sister to try some. We asked the bar tender to pick us a sweet sake from Kyoto and she selected this one from the Fushimi area.
Yum! This was really good sake. Definitely glad we tried this place out.
After the sake, while walking back to the hotel, we spotted this chocolate shop. Just our luck...they were opening the next day...and not until right after we were leaving Kyoto. Next time!
So I went back to the hotel and ate my cute seal donut from Floresta. I must say, this is pretty darn cute. Really, could this be any cuter?
We also tried out these cinnamon cookies. These are apparently the traditional sweet of Kyoto. They have a few other traditional sweets, but this is one of them. In fact, their limited edition Kit Kat in Kyoto is cinnamon cookie.
The next morning Ryan and I went out in the crazy pouring rain to grab some breakfast. This time we tried the pancakes at Smart Coffee. I definitely liked the French toast better, but these were good.
Lunch was a nice treat. One of the dietitians I know in Japan lives in Kyoto and met us for lunch. I had never met her in person but she is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and also a member of AODA (American Overseas Dietetic Association, I am the Country Rep for Japan). We thought it would be nice to meet up. I was very excited to meet her. She teaches at a university in Nara and her background is very similar to mine. Sh teaches community nutrition and nutrition epidemiology (I work in community nutrition and my MPH concentration was epidemiology).
After chatting at the hotel we headed out to a nearby restaurant for some tofu and sushi. Kyoto is known for it's vegetarian food, it's "fancy" food, and as a result, there are some amazing tofu restaurants. Luckily there was one nearby.
We decided on a lot of different tofu options for all of us to share. First up is the yuba. This is the top layer, or skin, from when tofu is made. It is very energy dense because it contains more of the fat than regular tofu.
This dish contained 3 different preparations of tofu. The blue bowl was made with miso. The pink bowl was a very soft tofu. The green bowl was tofu that was eaten sprinkled with pink salt. It came with a "broth" which was technically soy milk. I was told to make sure I tried some of it. Yum! All of these were really good.
Our last tofu dish was grilled tofu stuffed with scallions. I'm not a scallion fan, but the grilled tofu was amazing. I have no idea how they actually get it to cook like that. It was very crispy on the outside and very soft inside.
We also ordered a plate of sushi for everyone to share. It was plenty of food! Everything was really good. Plus, I got to chat with a local dietitian/nutrition professor and ask her some questions about nutrition and dietetics education in Japan.
But of course we had to end the meal with some dessert. Ice cream...tofu ice cream! Perfect!
After lunch it was pouring rain so we headed to the underground mall attached to our hotel and got a nice 30 minute foot massage. Then it was time to head to...Osaka!
QUESTIONS: Do you like tofu? Have you ever tried yuba? Have you ever tried tofu ice cream (technically the same as soy ice cream)?