Do You Know the Best Japanese Food You’re Missing Out On? My Kyoto Favorites!

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Emily:   The best part of traveling is seeing new places and experiencing things I’d never get to see back home.  Kyoto, Japan is a fantastic place to explore old temples, see natural beauty, and meet friendly people.  And you can ride all around the city (safely!) on a bike!  These experiences make Kyoto a very unique place to visit and a place I would love to return to!

If you haven’t already done so, check out our free Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points!  Also, check out my Visiting Japan 101 series, as well as my How to Stay in Tokyo for Free series.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
The. Most. Refreshing. Dessert. EVER!

Miles and points earned from just a few credit cards can help get you to Japan — or anywhere else you might want to go — for a fraction of the price!  My partner, Alfy, and I flew from the US to Japan round trip for ~$110 in Business Class.  He was raised in Japan and had not seen his family for ~20 years!  And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy five-star hotels), I spent ~$450!  In this series, I will show you how you can do it, too!

Best Restaurants in Kyoto

  • Riverside Restaurant, Arashiyama
  • Café Restaurant Akamanma, Arashiyama
  • Ramen Restaurant, Kyoto

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® to pay for meals when traveling.  You earn bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining.  And there are no foreign transaction fees.  You can’t beat that!

How to Use Miles for a Trip to Kyoto Index:

Where to Eat in Kyoto

My favorite restaurants were in Arashiyama.

Riverside Restaurant, Arashiyama

For lunch, we stopped at a Japanese restaurant that specialized in Japanese comfort food.  Most people think of sushi and Ramen when it comes to Japanese food, but they also prepare comfort foods very well!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
This Restaurant Has a Fantastic View of the Lake

This restaurant is located on the riverfront near the Arashiyama bridge.  It’s very modern and Japanese inside.  We sat in front of the windows so we could watch the river and the people pass by.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Grab a Seat to People Watch

The menu looked amazing!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Japan Has So Much More Than Sushi!

Alfy ordered hamburger steak curry…

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
The Best Japanese Comfort Food–Hamburger Steak Curry

…and I got a hamburger meal (in cheese) with soup.  In Japan, they sometimes stuff the hamburgers with cheese on the inside.  It is divine!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Japanese Hamburgers Are Lighter and Tastier than American Hamburgers

We loved this restaurant.  The prices were very affordable at about ~$10 per meal.  They also had a fantastic looking dessert menu, but we were too full to try anything.  Oh well, we hope to return to Kyoto soon, and this will be one of the first places on our list!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
The Japanese Rival the French With Their Culinary Attention to Detail

Café Restaurant Akamanma, Arashiyama

After a day of visiting the Monkey Park and Bamboo Forest, we decided to eat in Arashiyama before heading back to Kyoto.  So we stopped at Restaurant Akamanma, which is located on the main shopping street.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
This Cute Cafe Also Had Delicious Food!

Their menu looked delicious and was also affordable.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
The Serving Sizes Were a Bit on the Small Side

We received a fresh salad with our meal.  I loved the salad!  The dressing was on point.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
The Salad Was Delicious and We Wanted Seconds

I ordered local Kyoto chicken with mushrooms….

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
At Least I’ll Have Room for Dessert

…and Alfy got a beef dish.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner

Both of them were excellent, but the portions were a little on the small side.  However, this meant we had room for their amazing desserts!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
We Thoroughly Enjoyed This Meal!

Japanese shaved ice is one of my all-time favorite desserts from my travels throughout the world.  They are on par with the French patisseries.  And I loved brigaderio from Brazil, too!

My mouth began to water just looking at the menu, and I had trouble deciding what I wanted.  They all looked so good!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Saving the Best for Last

I finally decided on the strawberry milk shaved ice.  Wow!  It looked even more amazing in person than in the picture.  If I lived in Arashiyama, I think I’d come to this restaurant once a week, and maybe twice a week just for the shaved ice.  Yummmmm!!!!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Yum! Strawberry Milk Shaved Ice

Ramen Restaurant, Kyoto

Near our Airbnb, there were many traditional Japanese sushi restaurants.  Because I am allergic to fish, I need to be extra careful where I eat.  And I tend to prefer places that don’t focus so heavily in fish.  So Alfy and I sought out a place that had an English menu and found a Ramen shop near our hotel.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Ramen Shop in Kyoto

We tried a couple of appetizers — wings and gyoza.  They tasted so good.  We also got Ramen, and the broth was delicious!

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
After Riding Bikes All Day, We Were Famished

As with the other restaurants, we paid about ~$10 per main course.

Best Restaurants In Kyoto
Pick a Dish, Any Dish

Bottom Line

There are some excellent restaurants to be found in Kyoto.  Japan has many more types of food than just sushi!  Use a guidebook, Tripadvisor, or Yelp to help find restaurants that appeal to you.  Try to sample different kinds of Japanese food — because there are a lot!  And don’t forget those mouth watering shaved ice desserts!

Before you head to Japan (or anywhere else!), remember to get a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees AND earns bonus points for your spending!

These are the cards I recommend:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel purchases
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel purchases (excluding $300 travel credit)

What are your favorite places to eat in Kyoto?  Let me know in the comments!

Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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