The Nishiki Market in Kyoto is a foodie haven. The market sells local food, much of it served on sticks. We ate our way way through and bought more to eat later.
We love markets, and we love samples. Not surprisingly, we loved the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.
Dating back to the 14th century, Kyoto’s Nishiki Market has been operating as a market for over 400 years. The market is five narrow blocks long and has 126 stalls. The market is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to approximately 6 p.m. Those are the facts. The reality is that the market lives up to its nickname of “the kitchen of Kyoto” with its stunning variety of fresh delicacies. Sophisticated yet accessible, the market is perfect for foodies such as ourselves as well as for average tourists.
We arrived at the market at 5 p.m. to find it bustling with locals and tourists. We immediately realized that most vendors were offering samples. Each sample was better than the last sample, from fresh fish to pickles to walnuts to fried treats. The samples worked, as we couldn’t resist buying various items as we walked through the market.
Eating Our Way through the Nishiki Market in Kyoto
We loved the marinated raw fish on sticks sold at Kimura, the oldest stall in the market. Part ceviche. Part sashimi. Totally delicious.
Food on sticks was one of the themes of the market. Another theme was fried food. One market treat combined these two themes. How can you not love a fried tiger prawn topped with a spicy sauce?!
We also tried a fish cake on a stick. Not surprisingly, it was tasty too.
Not all of the fish and seafood was fried and on sticks. We would have bought some for later if only we had a kitchen and more time.
Thankfully, we didn’t need a kitchen to enjoy the takoyaki. All we needed to do was pay our 180 yen (less than $2 US) at the vending machine and dig in. We kept it simple with one jumbo takoyaki plate to share as opposed to topping our octopus balls with cheese or spring onions.
We are very familiar with takoyaki, having first discovered them years ago in the basement of the Sogo department store in Hong Kong. It’s a good thing, since we may not have been enticed by the stall’s description of takoyaki as “the food in which the flour mixture water containing an octopus was toasted”.
Although takoyaki is an Osaka specialty, the Kyoto rendition did not disappoint. The only challenge was to keep the gooey filling from burning our mouths. We were up to the challenge.
Another theme of the market was pickling. All types of vegetables were pickled and available for sampling and buying.
Some other food items caught our eye during our culinary stroll.
The market was more than just food. There were stalls that sold pottery, trinkets and other non-food items. We wandered around Aritsuga, a stall with all kinds of kitchenware. Being left handed, Daryl was tempted by the selection of left handed knives.
We ended our Nishkiki market experience with a non-Japanese treat. We can’t resist a pastel de nata since our honeymoon in Portugal. Some have been good (i.e. Montreal) and some have been bad (i.e. Macau). Trust the Japanese to recreate the European pastry with perfect creamy, caramelized precision.
We enjoyed the market so much that we didn’t have room for dinner that night. Oh well, such are the sacrifices that foodtrippers must make when traveling.
The Nishiki Market in Kyoto is located at Japon, 〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609.