Snacking My Way Through Nishiki Market
Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, 京都市中京区 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609番地
Seeing as I am quite the food enthusiast, no trip to Kyoto would be complete without a visit to the Nishiki Market. Nishiki Market, located in downtown Kyoto, spans over five city block and houses over 100 different merchants and restaurants.
Even though this isn't the largest or flashiest food market in Japan, it has some history, 400+ years to be exact. If only those walls could talk!
Wandering through the market, you will see anything from street food to the finest knives and kitchenware. Literally, there is something for everyone. Vendors are more than willing to let you sample anything from saké to seafood with no obligation to buy. Although, that's totally how they reel you in. (I may or may not have picked up a bottle of saké or two for myself)
Wandering through the market, you will see anything from street food to the finest knives and kitchenware. Literally, there is something for everyone. Vendors are more than willing to let you sample anything from saké to seafood with no obligation to buy. Although, that's totally how they reel you in ( AKA- I may or may not have picked up a bottle of saké or two).
Many of the items for sale are locally produced or procured and are of the utmost quality.
Living in landlocked Nashville, Tennessee, I don't often see unusual seafood. Needless to say, I could not believe my eyes as I walked through the market. For instance, featured below are baby octopuses stuff with quail eggs. Yes, I am an adventurous eater, but I was not about to try that.
Where's the beef?
Basically, the question I asked the entire time I was in Japan ( for numerous reasons that I will not bore you with on the blog). I digress.
We were only two blocks into the market when I spotted this Omi beef stand. Clapping with delight, as I often do when a plan comes together, I grabbed my friend and told her that this stop was non-negotiable. Of course, I knew NOTHING about Omi beef, so the kind gentleman gave us the rundown.
There are three different types of Wagyu beef: Kobe, Matsusaka, and Omi. Omi beef cattle are raised in the Shiga prefecture and are one of the oldest beef brands in Japan. Omi beef is known for its beautiful marbled appearance and its sweet and smooth flavor. Take it from me, one bite literally melts in your mouth. The gentleman also mentioned that the cattle listened to Mozart, but for some reason, I'm not buying it.
Have you ever had a singular bite that left you wanting more? There are a few that come to mind (Black Truffle Explosion from Alinea) but it doesn't occur very often. Initially, I had one skewer of Omi beef and went on my way exploring the market. I couldn't stop thinking about how the beef melted in my mouth and I immediately told my carnivorous friends that this booth was a MUST.
Immediately, we did an about-face and went back and paid the Omi beef vendor a visit. Seeing as we were back for round two, he insisted that we compare the Omi to the Wagyu. You know this girl isn't saying no!
Entering into the steak taste test, I was curious if I would be able to tell a difference between the two since Wagyu is one of the premier beefs served in the United States.
Flabbergasted. While both bites were tasty, the Omi beef melted in my mouth why the Wagyu was a bit chewy and not as flavorful. Let's be clear, it was still Wagyu which was delicious.
The skewers were so amazing that my friends and I cleaned him out. We know a good thing when we see it!
After having our Wagyu/Omi showdown, we ventured a little further down and found this interesting little saké bar that was standing room only. What goes better with Omi than a little saké.
Seeing as I have only been served sake in thimble sized saké glasses or wine glasses, I was a bit thrown off when a small wooden box was placed in front of me and the saké began to flow. What! It's so important you find the sweet spot on the saké box. If not, you will be wearing more than you drink!
Time got away from me and I didn't have the chance to visit the Tsukiji Market but Nishiki had an assortment of seafood that did not disappoint. I've never seen so much fresh fish in my life!
To say I enjoyed my time leisurely wandering through the Nishiki Market would be an understatement. After all, I found a bite of a lifetime with the Omi beef. If you are traveling to Kyoto, swing by the market and check it out. In addition to the food vendors, there are several restaurants scattered throughout. Word to the wise, make a reservation. Even if the restaurant is completely empty, they will not seat you.
Nishiki Market opens around 9:00 am with stalls closing around 6:00 pm. Like every other place in Japan, this too is crowded. Grab your comfiest shoes and get ready to go with the flow.
Until Next Time!