Now that Obanzai’s organic buffet is closing, it is good to know that there are alternatives. Kamo serves up all organic locally grown vegetables in all kinds of tasty combinations. They take pride in the fact their vegetables are 都野菜 or “Miyako vegetables” which means they are truly local. Apparently the famed label 京野菜 – “Kyo yasai” does not always guarantee that the veggies actually come from Kyoto! Mewby and I went there a couple of weeks ago for lunch and thought it was pretty good value. Here’s Mewby’s lunch:
As you can see there is plenty of variety. Here are the details:
Morning light meal buffet(7:00 ～ 10:00): ￥480 (includes a soft drink)
Lunch-time buffet (11:00 ～ 16:00): ￥880 （when full they have a one hour limit）
Dinner-time buffet (17:00 ～ 23:00): ￥1,300 （when full they have an 80 minute limit）
Limitless soft drinks: ￥300
All You Can Drink with alcohol: ￥950
Location: On the south-east corner of Higashinotoin and Ayanokouji. One block east of Karasuma and one block south of Shijo. Here is a MAP.
Check out also these 360 degree panoramic views of the interior: http://nasukamo.net/panorama.html Tel:>075-351-2732075-351-2732 Website:http://nasukamo.net
Thanks to Gary Bloom and Barbara Stein for passing on the sad news that the organic buffet restaurant Obanzai is closing at the end of this month. Though not 100% vegetarian, this buffet was very veggie heavy, all natural and good value too. The owners of the building have decided to demolish it however, and so the restaurant, unwillingly, has to go too. I wonder if they will try to set up shop elsewhere? Well Barbara has suggested people go along before the end of the month to say goodbye and show their support, and I think that’s an excellent idea. Grab one last all-you-can-eat buffet while you’re there too. They are damn tasty. Location: 1F of Ichii Bldg., on the east side of Koromonodana, north of Oike Tel:075-223-6623075-223-6623 See also:My 2007 posting on Obanzai.
Here’s a valuable new resource for health loving Deep Kyotoites: a very well laid-out site with a tonne of useful information! Organic Kyoto was created by Kyoto resident Alice Miyagawa and launched on 16th August 2013. Living in Japan since 2002, she realised it would be a great service to have a comprehensive website that could be found by searching the English keywords “organic” and “Kyoto”. Continue reading →
Though there are quite a large number of vegetarian establishments in Kyoto, most of them are located in the north of the city, and the few there are in the city center tend to sell nothing that isn’t healthy and nutritious. Good vegan junk food is pretty hard to come by. There used to be a branch of Speakeasy on Shijo that did a passable veggie burger, but that closed down back in 2010. Since then our vegan brethren have been denied the delights of fast and convenient processed treats at a convenient location and forced to endure a steady diet of tofu and wholegrain rice. No more! Vegan cafe Matsuontoko is here to save the day, slap bang in the center of town, with a fine array of vegan fake-meats!
So convincing are these fake-meats that one of Mewby’s friends was half-way through her “kara-age” before she realised it wasn’t chicken at all. And that was only because Mewby told her.
“Really,” Mewby told me. “You’ll be amazed.”
“Well, alright then.” I said. So I went. And here’s my order.
How good was it? Very good. The bread was actually really nice too. I was entirely satisfied. But I decided to pig out on onion rings anyway. They were nice sweet onions and non too greasy.
And for a mere two hundred yen extra you get a lovely little cup of tofu ice-cream, cream and vegan brownies.
In short, whether you are vegan or no, if have a hankering for fast food at a reasonable price, Matsuontoko is the place to go.
Matsuontoko is just east of Shinkyogoku, three streets up from Shijo. Here is a map. Check the website for other items on the menu. There are a lot of choices. Open: 11:00～24:00 （Last Orders: 23:00） Tel: 075-251-1876
Lovers of vegan burgers may also be interested in:Morpho Cafe
It’s that time of year again! The 7th annual Kyoto veggie-fest will be held again at Okazaki Park this Sunday (October 4th) from 10 am till 5 pm. There’ll be plenty of entertainment on stage, NPO booths and of course plenty of tasty scran from a variety of local eateries, including Deep Kyoto favorites like Sunny Place, Falafel Garden, Mikoan and Cafe Millet. Here’s a word from the organisers:
An event for all ages, the festival gives you aplace to enjoy vegetarian food and listen to music while learning about vegetarianism, the environment, and more… Thanks to everyone’s support, this year marks our 7th year. We hope to have another a great turnout this year! The Festival Philosophy In Japan, with 1 out of 2 people becoming victims of cancer, many people are reflecting on their dietary habits. The Vegetarian Festival provides a place for people of all ages and nationalities to learn about a healthy lifestyle, while bringing attention to problems like the degrading environment and World Hunger. This festival focuses on the following themes:
★Living a healthy life, both mentally and physically
★One’s respect for life, not just of humans, but of the animals with which we cohabit the world
★How pollution and food over consumption can degrade the environment
★Introduce organic retailers throughout Kyoto…
…★In an effort to reduce garbage, please bring your own eating utensils, and bags for the items you buy.
The 2009 Vegetarian Festival held at Okazaki Park, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto October 4th (Sunday) 10:00-17:00 Okazaki Park is just east of Kyoto Kaikan, and south of Heian Shrine.
You can find out more HERE and there are directions and a most convenient map HERE.
On a warm autumn afternoon, during a north Kyoto hike from Ohara over to Kurama, we came across a group of young people building a wood burning oven out of stone. Standing in front of this ishigama, we made small talk with the young couple in charge of the project. The young woman told us that the bread that this oven would bake would be a centerpiece of the cafe that had just opened here, her hand gesturing at a comfortable looking building made of wood and glass. We promised to come back again.
A month or so later we ran into them again in Ohara, this time as part of a larger group busy harvesting adzuki and soy, some of which would wind up that night on the table of Cafe Millet.
What at first seems like a throwback scene to the old hippie days is actually a large and growing trend in Japan. Driven by both environmental and economic concerns, many young Japanese are shunning a life in the cities for one in the soil.
The idea of returning to the countryside is hardly a new one. Masanobu Fukuoka’s classic work, “The One-Straw Revolution” has for over 30 years lured people back to a traditional life of farming. What is different this time is that the movement is not simply at the personal or grass roots level. In March of this year, Prime Minister Taro Aso created the Rural Labor Squad, as a way to give employment to the young while simultaneously revitalizing rural communities and their dwindling labor pool. Local farmers are for the most part grateful for the help, though some feel that the young will once again return to the city when the economy picks up. Continue reading →
If you fancy a day out of Kyoto and a bit of fresh country air, a trip into Shiga to visit the Miho Museum might be a nice little adventure for you. This is a most extraordinary private art collection, held in a most extraordinary building, and in an extraordinary location! The building itself is remarkable, designed by I. M. Pei (he’s the guy that designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre – you know the one Mary Magdalen is buried under), 80% of it lies below ground but what lies above somehow balances respect for Japanese tradition and surrounding nature, with a clean modernist line. Inside natural light from the glass roof illuminates beautiful art and treasures from all over the ancient world. I heard about this place years ago but for some reason I always had the idea it was in some remote inaccesible part of deepest darkest inaka. Actually, though it is in the middle of nowhere, it is fairly easy to get to. Here’s how: Continue reading →
A few weeks ago Ted Taylor introduced me to Cafe dell’Orso a nice new Italian restaurant on Higashi Ichijo Dori. They do a good ￥1000 set lunch there; one pasta of your choosing + salad + focaccia with a home made pate and a wee slice of quiche. I decided to go back for dinner, and try some more dishes. In my pictures below you can see various appetisers and desserts but not the main dishes, as I was so intent on eating them up I forgot to photograph them! Thankfully, this popular Kyoto blogger has some good pictures on his site too, so you can check his pictures out here. I actually had the asparagus and parmesan gratin (￥700) and the tomato and clam spaghetti (￥1100), and washed them down with a cold sharp Peroni beer (￥700). They were all very good. However, the desserts were especially delicious, or as my companion Mewby put it “yabai!” (which is Japanese for dangerously awesome). There are more pictures below and if you go to flickr you can see the prices too.
This restaurant/cafe is run by two friends, Stefano Bandini and Sasha Ashburne. I asked Stefano why the name is “Orso” which means “bear”, and he told me that his father used to have a gallery on Via dell’Orso in Milan named Galleria dell’Orso. The Caffe shares more than just the name with his father’s gallery though, as the walls here too are used to exhibit local art. At the time I visited they were decorated with the photographic work of Fumio Inoue. And as for the “cucina naturale”? Stefano explains: “Cucina naturale” means that we are making, as far as possible, everything home made. Salad dressing, sauce, ginger ale etc. are all home made. When possible we also use organic ingredients. So far the dry pasta we have been using is organic. We have now started using fresh pasta, that we buy from a non-organic supplier. In the near future, if economically convenient, we’d like to make our own pasta. In this case we’ll try to find organic semolina…
Caffe dell’Orso, is on the north side of Higashi Ichijo Dori. Go east from Kawabata and it is just a little further past the Sakyou-ku ward office. If you get as far as Higashioji Dori you have gone too far! Here is a useful map.
In December 2008 my friend David Ewen and I (that’s us on the left) decided to go on an Irish pub crawl and see exactly what each place had to offer in terms of food, drink, music and the elusive craic. What follows is a list of the five pubs we visited, a summary of what we found there and a map to each location. For a fuller article, more pictures and directions click on the name of each pub. However, before I continue, I must say if you are only in Kyoto for a short time you shouldn’t be wasting precious time in Irish pubs at all, so stop reading now and go somewhere Japanese instead. This article is for long term residents only!
Very popular with expats but has more character than your average chain pub. A good menu with plenty of vegetarian options. Irish music every week and jazz monthly. Six screens show major sporting events. The staff are very courteous and professional. Map.
A gastro-pub specialising in micro-brew beers, they even have a chocolate flavored beer! Stunning views over the river Kamo and the city. Very personable staff and a very likeable and chatty owner the house chef, Tadg. Map.
Not the cosiest pub (perhaps because of it’s long, narrow interior) but with friendly staff and a good mix of Japanese and foreign punters. Excellent local musicians play Irish music here Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Map at the bottom of this link.
The first Irish pub to open in Kyoto back in 2000, Field is all about the music. Irish music sessions are held twice a week and there is a recording and practice studio upstairs. Mostly Japanese punters here. It’s a nice place for a quiet pint. Map
My personal favorite. Wonderful Irish style home-cooked food with lots of organic veggies and vegetarian options. A cosy atmosphere and a very friendly owner. The live music schedule is interestingly eclectic. Map.
Out for a stroll last night I stumbled across health and whole food shop 菜花 (na no hana). They have plenty of organic vegetables and fruit here, all kinds of natural cooking ingredients, vegan food supplies and earth-friendly cleaning products. 菜花 sits about halfway between Demachiyanagi and Hyakumanben. If that isn’t convenient, they do deliveries. To find it, just walk east of the Eiden line exit of Demachiyanagi station, past Falafel Garden and further on past the Heming Sports Club until you get to the Omuraya オムライス (omelette and rice) place on your right. Turn right here and go past Kroon Thai restaurant and it’s on your left just before Rico Rico Spanish restaurant. Here is a most convenient map (the red circle marks the spot).
Opens weekdays: 10:00 ~ 20:00
Saturday: 10:00 ~ 19:00
Closed on Sundays and national holidays.