Getting its start as a fish market, Nishiki market in Kyoto has grown into a paradise of locally grown and prepared foods. Packed with tourists and locals alike, the market offers everything from dried fish to pickles, meat skewers to ice cream cones. Most shops focus on a single specialty. If they sell pickles, they sell every variety possible. While Kyoto doesn’t have the culinary reputation of Osaka, when Kyoto does something, they do it well. Here are a few delectable items you can find in Nishiki market, created with passion and expertise, that will make your palate sing.
Japan loves its pickles, but Kyoto takes this tangy treat to another level. Imagine the pickle, perfected. We’re not talking your green gas station behemoth, these are finer stock. The pickles made at Uchida Tsukemono are made from Kyoto’s finest vegetables through methods and recipes passed down for generations. At the storefront are samples galore, so don’t miss out on experiencing superb flavor combos like daikon pickles with sudachi (pickled Japanese radish with Japanese citrus fruit). Other popular pickled vegetables are eggplants, cucumber, and plums.
Numerous vendors sell delicious and fresh vegetables up and down the market street, but Kanematsu goes above and beyond what any other shop does. They can be described as a “luxury” vegetable shop. Each eggplant looks waxed and shined, the greens are fresh and healthy, fruit is sold as if they were prized jewels. Even the infamous matsutake mushroom can be found here, but it all comes at a price. Expect to pay top dollar at this store, and as for the mushrooms, maybe just look, don’t touch. These particular fungi demand somewhat of an outrageous price, as high as US$2,000 per kilo.
Looking for something a bit more substantial than pickles and vegetables? Drop by Iyomata for some delicious sushi and sashimi. This store focuses on having fresh delicious ingredients, so there aren’t a ton of options, but what they make is always fresh. Passed down for 20 generations, this shop has been a local favorite for almost 400 years! Drop by, grab a seat, and taste for yourself why this shop has survived for so long.
When talking about Japanese cuisine, one doesn’t normally discuss strong, bold, or impactful flavors. Most Japanese dishes are known for their subtle, delicate flavors that don’t offend the palate. But sometimes you just want some oof in your noodles. Several shops in the market sell a variety of spice mixes that range from a light kick, to full on mouth inferno. At Ochanoko-Sai Sai, try out their sansho pepper seasoning, a Japanese traditional seven-spice seasoning. It’s a great way to kick up a meal’s flavor profile a notch. Their seasoning comes in various levels of spiciness, so give them all a try and see where your spiciness threshold lies.
Nishiki market is known for its fresh and locally made goods, and how much fresher and local can you get than donuts? Konna Monja sells highly popular and delicious tofu donuts. Drop by this shop for a bag of delectable little bite-sized donuts and feel none the worse for having consumed every single one because they’re tofu. That’s healthy right? Regardless of their status as a “health food,” after a day of eating your way through Nishiki market, a few tofu donuts are the perfect dessert to cap off your culinary adventure.