Despite being filled with classic Japanese restaurants, it is surprisingly difficult to find places that serve brunch or breakfast in this ancient city. Many travellers are therefore confined to the breakfast served at their hotel, but for those who want to branch out, we’ve searched every corner for the best breakfasts and brunches in Kyoto.
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Inoda Coffee Honten
The honten (original store) of the popular Japanese chain store founded over 70 years ago, Inoda Coffee has not sacrificed quality for quantity and commercial success. Situated in a traditional Japanese building of dark wood, this establishment is reminiscent of a classy mid-range café during the 1950s, with its old-school Western décor. Like its name suggests, this café is well-known for coffee, but their brunch food is also well worth a try, especially the scrambled eggs made smooth with a touch of milk.
A little café located near the Toji Temple, Ipponogi serves Western breakfasts of eggs, sandwiches, and toast made from thickly sliced bread. Their breakfast sets come with a small side of fruit, to give you daily vitamins with fresh, local produce. Their interior is decorated with yellow brick walls, wooden furnishings, and warm lighting; coupled with their friendly service, it is guaranteed to make your brunch there the best start to your day.
Kyoto is not only the capital of ancient Japan, it is also Kansai’s centre of culinary delights, thus no trip to Kyoto is complete without sampling some traditional Japanese food. Touzan, located in Hyatt Regency, gives an authentic Kyoto breakfast that makes for a delightful change to the brunches familiar to a Western palette. Touzan’s brunch consists of rice, miso soup, small fish, and of course, the smooth, tasteful tofu that Kyoto is famous for. While all this food may seem to be strange fare for brunch, it is all part of the ultimate Kyoto experience that you simply cannot miss.
Coffee Smart (スマート珈琲店)
If the most important part of brunch to you is coffee, then Coffee Smart is a great place to go. Located near Tensho-ji, this establishment was founded in 1932 and is now run by the grandson of the original owner. It has retained an old-school feel with its decor of dark colour palette, paneled walls, and bar counter-top. They are also known for their hotcakes and French toast, served with sweet maple syrup.
Honke Daiichi-Asahi (本家 第一旭 たかばし)
Noodles are a traditional start to the morning in parts of Japan; one of Kyoto’s most famous ramen places, this shop opens from early in the morning till late at night. Located near Kyoto Station, Honke Daiichi-Asahi is well-known for its soup base, which is made using shoyu (soy sauce), making it a strong, rich contrast to the mild and delicate tastes Kyoto is famous for. All the ramen is made to order in the shop premises, therefore the texture of the noodles is perfect, springy and smooth without being overly plump.
Miyakoyasai Kamo (都野菜 賀茂)
As evidenced by the many Buddhist shrines in the city and in the surrounding countryside, Kyoto was and still is an important Buddhist centre for Japan and beyond. This long history has led to the development of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. Miyakoyasai Kamo serves classic Japanese breakfast fare in a buffet style at a reasonable price, using organic, locally produced vegetables, fruits, and grains. Traditional oriental choices include rice porridge, miso soup, and obanzai (processed vegetable dishes originated in Kyoto), while bread and fruits are also available.
Another cafe that takes its coffee very seriously, Cafe Violon uses coffee beans from small local farms, making its drinks uniquely local. For food, however, don’t expect too much; their set includes a modest portion of toast, a small salad, and egg. However, their prices are extremely reasonable, and well worth the excellent coffee. The cafe claims that you can taste Kyoto in their coffee; visit Cafe Violon for local flavor.
Founded in the 17th century, Hyotei has been run by fourteen consecutive generations, in a machiya (traditional wooden Japanese house) on the grounds of the Nanzenji Temple. The three Michelin-starred establishment serves humble fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in the style of Kaiseki, a Japanese cuisine that emphasizes simplicity and purity of taste, which was developed in ancient Kyoto. Their multi-course breakfast contains the signature dishes of Hyotei boiled eggs, which are made with a secret recipe, and their aromatic rice porridge.
In a machiya on the banks of the Kamo-kawa River that runs through the heart of Kyoto, lies Kawa Cafe. You will find it a chic, intimate restaurant with the most gorgeous view of the river. Serving French and Japanese cuisine all day long, this establishment is one of the few in Kyoto to have an actual brunch menu. Their brunch sets include a smooth omelette, a croissant or other bread, a small salad, and a drink. If the weather is nice, you can get a seat on the outdoor terrace for the best view.
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