On the Menu
Compared with the style of cooking elsewhere in Japan, Kyoto-ryori (Kyoto cuisine) is lighter and more delicate, stressing the natural flavor of seasonal ingredients over enhancement with heavy sauces and broths. O-banzai (Kyoto home cooking) is served at many restaurants at reasonable prices. The freshness and quality of the ingredients is paramount, and chefs carefully handpick only the best. Sosaku ryori (creative cuisine) is becoming popular as chefs find inspiration in other cultures while retaining light and subtle flavors.
Kyoto is also the home of shojin ryori, the Zen vegetarian-style cooking best sampled on the grounds of one of the city's Zen temples, such as Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama. Local delicacies like fu (glutinous wheat cakes) and yuba (soy-milk skimmings) have found their way into the mainstream of Kyoto ryori, but were originally devised to provide protein in the traditional Buddhist diet.
For a reasonably priced alternative to the kaiseki ryori (the elaborate, multicourse, often expensive meal), the kaiseki bento (box lunch) served by many ryotei is a good place to start. Box lunches are so popular in Kyoto that restaurants compete to make their bento unique, exquisite, and delicious.
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