Japanese people eat bento boxes on a daily basis, but Shokado bento is only reserved for the proud residents of Kyoto. Shokado bento is uniquely served in a square box separated into four equal compartments, resembling the Chinese character for field (田). Ingredients in a Shokado bento are seasonal and fresh -- you can expect to find sashimi, grilled food, stew and rice in it!
Another traditional native-to-Kyoto cuisine is obanzai. Obanzai isn’t as extravagant as shokado, but it encompasses the kind of healthy, nourishing dishes that you’ve been craving for on a heavy-loaded trip to Japan. Not much meat, but lots of tofu, miso soup, veggies, fish, and stews. LIke shokado, ingredients in obanzai are also freshly in season. Now let us take you to four restaurants that serve these traditional Kyoto cuisines!
Talk about elegance and convenience. Located on the 11F of Isetan Kyoto Station, Shozankaku is not only the perfect spot for you to take in beautiful views of Kyoto, but also to enjoy elegant shokado bento and all you can eat obanzai! Because of their use of only seasonal ingredients, the restaurant changes their menu every month. Some seasonal ingredients include bamboo shoots, sweetfish, matsutake mushrooms, and turnips. Their signature dish, however, is their extremely smooth, hand-picked daily tofu skin in a small wooden tub.
Shozankaku serves shokado bento (京弁当) in their ¥2,750 and ¥3,850 lunch options , while their ¥4,950 and dinner courses (ranging from ¥15,000 to ¥25,,000) feature more extravagant kaiseki dishes.
Shozankaku is open from 11AM to 10PM every day. Lunch time from 11AM to 4PM. They are closed on January 1st and any other days that Isetan is closed on.
We know that Shozankaku’s pricing is pretty up there, so we’re including a slightly more affordable restaurant for visitors to Kyoto, especially for meat lovers. Ichibakoji at JR Kyoto Isetan is a great stop for obanzai-style breakfast and lunch. Their wide variety of obanzai courses range from ¥1,298 to ¥2,640. Many of their courses include wagyu steaks, cutlets, chicken, pork, and fish, but all include an all you can eat option of their freshly homemade tofu skin. Ichibakoji’s dishes incorporate Western, Chinese, and other Asian cooking styles, which could be great for someone who just landed in Kyoto and looking for both homey and Japanese-style food!
Ichibakoji is open Monday to Friday from 11AM to 3:30PM for lunch and 5PM to 11PM for dinner. For weekends and public holidays, it is open from 11AM to 11PM, with lunch time being 11AM to 3PM.
Obanzai Buffet Hinataya
As the name of the restaurant suggests, Hinataya is the go-to for those of you who love great deals and can devour a magical lot while still enjoying Kyoto’s best flavors. Hinataya has a prime location in the Nishiki Market, where visitors from around the world flock to for authentic souvenirs. This restaurant receives fresh and juicy veggies directly from farmers, thus offers options that are unique and not always available at other places.
Obanzai buffet for only ¥1,800 for both lunch and dinner -- what are you waiting for?
Hinataya is open from 11AM to 4PM for lunch and 5PM to 10PM for dinner.
At Miyako Yasai, the idea of healthy food is of a different level. Like other restaurants, Miyako only provides fresh veggies, but they are also organic, and grown without the use of pesticides. Not only can you taste Miyako’s concept of organic food, you can even see it in their natural and simple interior design. When you’re there, try and see if you can discern the taste between veggies of different origins.
Their veggie buffet including drinks and soups costs only ¥500 for breakfast, ¥900 for lunch, and ¥1,370 for dinner on weekdays! You can go as early as 7AM as well. Of course, there’s more than fresh veggies at Miyako -- you can get meat add-ons to make your meal a bit more meaty. Their A4 wagyu sukiyaki or pork/chicken shabu shabu hotpot courses range from ¥2,700 to ¥3,900 depending on your choice of meat.
Miyako is open daily from 7AM to 10AM for breakfast, 11AM to 4PM for lunch, and 5:30PM to 10PM for dinner.