Kyoto, Japan

2nd June 2012

We spent 3 days in Kyoto in the end, the first and last days of our trip, plus a trip to Arashiyama, seperate blog coming soon.

Our first day is also known as the day I accidentally stumbled across vegan donuts. I had planned to look for Doughnut Plant on the last day of the tour, but actually noticed it completely by accident on the way to board the Shinkansen at Tokyo station. I immediately bought myself the green tea soya doughnut on offer.

Kyoto Uji Green Tea Soybean Milk Doughnut ¥390

It was huge. It was also kind of chewy which is apparently the distnct characteristic of the soya milk doughnut, the glaze however was super sweet, too sweet for me but had the iron ‘tang’ you get from matcha. I am sure it would have been pretty good naked, I was also eager to try another flavour, but these vegan doughnuts are part of the seasonal range and a new flavour is not due till July. Boo!

Baba had bought herself a bento to eat on the Shinkansen so by the time we arrived faffed around at the station putting luggage into lockers and getting the subway to central Kyoto it was way past my usual lunchtime and I was ravenous.  I was excited about about having vegan okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake at Mr Young Men but the waitress said they were unable to make this (egg is essential for binding it, but you can use tofu instead), they were happy to make yaki soba for me, fried noodles. The noodles were thick and delciously crispy in some places were they had been almost burnt, the pickled ginger added a nice tangy kick plus lots of fried Japanese cabbage which I love. The shop is located at the entrance to the covered shopping arcade on Teramachi Dori.

Mr Young Men yaki soba ¥580

On our next visit to Kyoto I was able to sample Mumokuteki which is further down the arcade past Nishiki market which is on the left.

Surprisingly for a vegan cafe in a hidden away location in Japan we had to wait for a table during lunchtime as they full.

Mumokuteki tofu hamburger plate ¥1,300

I had the baked burger 1300 yen there were two patties which were light and had a barbecue style sauce on very much like kamaboko. It came with a mixed rice and a tasty soup, which was thin but full of flavour.

Mumokuteki gluten katsu plate ¥1,050

Baba had the gluten katsu, value wise her set meal defo looked to be the better option.

Mumokuteki soya milk partfait ¥800

For dessert we had the parfait, I didn’t even know what a parfait was but had seen two other vegan blogs raving about the 800 yen version here. It was enough for 3 of us to share, it was essentially a Mr Whippy style ice cream, and a very good soy ice cream at that no funny after taste, not crystally. The bottom had small chunks of sponge cake.

Directions from Kyoto station: You can either get bus or subway to Shijo Dori, Teramachi Dori is the 8th road down. You will see the entrance to the covered shopping arcade on the left side of the road, inside the arcade go past Nishiki Dori which cuts across Termachi Dori then…
…look out for this clothes store, go up to the first floor, you will have to walk through the men’s clothing to get to it.
(If you get the bus from Kyoto station, you will also see a Doughnut Plant not too far after you come out of the bus station).

Directly opposite the entrance to the arcade is Fuji Daurami a department store, in the basement (take the stairs as soon as you walk in and it’s on the left) is Natural House, a chain of health/organic shops. They stock snacks, dried goods, face care etc but they also have the only pan (bread) I have seen without milk.

On our last day I was able to pick up some dinner once  from a Cafe Matsuontoko just round the corner from Mumokuteki before we headed out to the geisha district in Gion. I had been hoping to have the pizza but the only takeaway items were the burgers.

Cafe Matsuontoko avocado burger (incl fries) ¥930

I went for the avocado realising after brown avo might be an issue later. It was pretty pricey but oh my goodness it was seriously good. Am not sure what it was made of but it was more like a Fry’s burger than a tofu burger, it had a layer mustard on bottom and half an avocado on top of burger plus sauce and came with a side of French fries.

Baba was very sceptical about seeing a geisha in Gion during the day, apparently this is when they should be sleeping. So I was startled when we actually saw one, she was an apprentice geisha  or maiko. Unfortunately there was a paparazzi style fuss around her, and there was me wondering how I would go about asking if I could take her photo. Anyway, she looked beautiful.

Other places in Kyoto to try around Termachi Dori are Hale and Mikan – I wasn’t sure how Baba would feel about neko (cats) strutting across her dinner table so gave this one a miss.

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