The Nishiki Market is a five block traditional market known as Kyoto’s kitchen. It’s best to go there hungry for street foods. It’s also a good souvenir shopping spot.
The market started about 400 years ago as a fish market. Today, shops at this market sell produce, fish, and meat. There are ready-to-eat street foods and restaurants with limited seatings. You can also find kitchenware, knives, Japanese snacks, and ornate souvenirs here.
At the east end of the market sits a small Shinton shrine, Nishikitenmangu (錦天滿宮). This shrine worships the god of learning who was a Japanese scholar from the 9th century. People come here to pray for wisdom and academic success.
I of course touched the bull and prayed here. I’m going to be so smart.
Japanese pickles, called tsukemono, are a Kyoto specialty. There are some beautiful pickle shops at the Nishiki Market.
When planning the trip, I had wanted to come here hungry and try all kinds of food. We didn’t have enough time in Kyoto for that to happen. When we went to the market, I was still extremely full from the amazing wagyu beef sukiyaki.
One of the most famous food items at this market is tamagoyaki — a Japanese omelette made by rolling several layers of cooked egg into a block. At some fancy sushi shops, understudies have to spend a full year to try to master making this grilled egg roll. I really wanted to try that dish from 三木鶏卵, but they only sell it by a whole roll. I was too full for that amount of food.
This fish shop is known for their fried fish. Again, too full to eat…
You have to stop by Nishikimochitsukiya (錦 もちつき屋) for a small cup of Warabimochi — a confection made from bracken starch and covered or dipped in roasted soybean powder “kinako.” This is a must-eat at the Nishiki Market. The texture is between mochi and jelly. Sort of a softer version of Turkish delight. (200 yen for a small cup.)
The black sesame soft serve we tried was incredible.
One of the most well-known dessert in Kyoto is kuzukiri from Kagizen(鍵善良房) in Gion. Kuzukiri (葛きり) is kudzu starch noodles. The starch noodles are served chilled with Okinawa artisan brown sugar on the side as a dipping sauce. An order of this dessert at the famous Kagizen costs 900 yen. We didn’t have time to go, also…it’s so expensive. I decided to buy some kudzu starch noodles from this shop to try at home.
Next time I am in Kyoto, I want to try the raw egg over rice or chazuke (rice in dashi) here.
The kudzu starch noodles on the right were much more expensive. They are 100% made of kudzu starch. The ones on the left were much cheaper because it was mixed with tapioca powder or some other starch.
The noodles need to be soaked in water for three hours before cooking. Bring the water to boil and cook them for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Then place the cooked noodles in ice cold water to chill.
It takes about two hours to stroll through the market. Although some shops open as early as 8 am, from noon to 5 pm is the time most of the shops are open.
The Nishiki Market is one block north of Shijo Avenue (四条通 Shijō-dōri) and runs parallel to it, starting from Teramachi Street(寺町通 Teramachi-dōri) to the west.