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DINING & CAFE

Japanese food is more than just sushi, tempura, or sukiyaki. Food usually comes in smaller portions and features a wider variety of textures and tastes than in western menus. With the exception of shoku-dos and izakayas, most eateries specialize in one type of food or cooking.
Each region in Japan has a special dish or local ingredient they take pride in, and Kyoto's specialty includes kaiseki-ryori, tofu, and tsukemono (pickled vegetables).

Traditional Japanese

Here, we define traditional Japanese as food enjoyed mostly in formal setting such as kaiseki ryori (haute Japanese cuisine), kyo-ryori (Kyoto style cuisine), sushi, tempura (lightly battered, deepfried fish and vegetables) and obanzai (home-style Japanese cooking). Kaiseki ryori and Kyo-ryori are usually served in a ryo-tei (upper-end Japanese style restaurant) where one is seated in a private room and each fresh seasonal dish comes in courses in picturesque presentation.

Noodles

There are several types of noodles eaten in Japan. Ramen, thin stringy wheat noodles served in a hot greasy meat-based broth with a variety of toppings, is a cheap favorite and can be enjoyed until late at night in a very casual place, which often serves cha-han, (fried rice) and gyoza (pot-stickers). Udon is a thick white wheat-based noodle that can be eaten hot or cold, and soba are brown buckwheat noodles dipped in a cold broth or eaten in a hot soup.

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a kind of thick, savory pancake made most of the time with cabbage as a base, with various other ingredients like sea-food or pork. It cheap, and delicious, and is cooked yourself on the griddle at your table, or prepared by the cook and remains hot on the teppan (griddle) in front of you. Most okonomiyaki restaurants serve yaki-soba (pan-fried noodles) as well. The distinctive feature of okonomiyaki and yaki-soba is the sweet thick brown sauce that it is topped with. and other vegetables to cook on the teppan.

Izakaya

Izakayas are Japanese style pubs where a wide range of alcohol is available along with a large selection of small plates of Western and Japanese food to accompany the alcohol. Izakayas are mostly warm, lively, and casual places to eat that shouldn't cost too much, but newer fancier izakayas have started to show up and gain popularity.

Cafes

Many coffee shops offer a soothing lounge ambiance and usually serve light meals along with coffee drinks. Many go late into the night and also serve alcohol. The best lunch deals can be found at cafes. Lunch sets often include a main dish and with one or two side-dishes and a drink, and costs around 1000 Yen give or take.

Vegetarian

Vegetarianism is not very popular in Japan and often people just don't understand the concept. The word, "meat" niku often only refers to beef, and you must specifically make clear what you can and cannot eat. Those who eat fish will have a much easier time, as many dishes are made with fish or fish broth. For strict vegetarians, the best choice is to go to a specialized vegetarian or macrobiotic restaurant. In Kyoto, there are a variety of Buddhist temple food and Zen Vegetarian food restaurants which, for the most part are vegan.

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