By day four in Japan, I was craving for vegetables. I’ve been eating too much raw food than what I’ve been use to and felt like I needed some healthy veggies to cleanse my system. However, leafy green vegetables doesn’t seem to be too common in Japan. Lydia searched online and found a vegetarian restaurant called Mikoan in Kyoto which had great reviews. The only obstacle was that it’s hidden in a dark, dark alley.
Prior to dinner, we first wandered around Nishiki Market, also known as the “Kitchen of Kyoto” where you can find many famous Kyoto foods and specialties. If you want your very own set of hand-crafted knives, you can get them here at Aritsugu. We arrived just prior to closing so it wasn’t crowded.
Baby octopus stuffed with quail egg on a stick anyone?
One of the famous items sold at the market are pickled veggies.
Walk towards the end of the market and you’ll see the beautiful Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine. It looks amazing all lit up at night.
Finally, it was time to find some vegetarian dinner. If it wasn’t for this very specific direction that Lydia found on a blog, I don’t know if we would have ever found this place.
Copied from www.vegguide.org:
(Tricky but worth it.) From the intersection from Shijo-dori and Teramachi-dori, walk 1.5 blocks South. That intersection is the southern exit of the Teramachi covered arcade. You’ll walk past the East side of the Fujii Daimaru Dept. Store on a relatively small street. Pass a bookstore on your right, then the Funahashiya candy store with some games outside on the street. Look for an alley-like entrance-way on your right with a hand-made sign saying “Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar.” Go down the narrow alley between two buildings and straight ahead through the courtyard.
Do you see where that red cone is placed? That’s the entrance to Mikoan restaurant. It’s a good 20 feet walking in pitch black darkness (good thing for cellphone flashlights these days). You then come up to this residential looking front door.
You walk right into what seems like someone’s really cluttered living room. I was surprised. I wasn’t sure if this was a restaurant or not. The dining area is this long counter and the kitchen is behind it. It’s a solo operation here, just one lady doing the cooking. We sat at the very end of the counter near the piano and guitar and piles and piles of books and magazine. I really wanted to help clean and organize, but I guess it’s part of it’s charm? This place is totally not made for tourist.
We each ordered the set dinner and the lady started cooking. All I could think of at that time was “if there’s a grease fire, we’re all doomed!!” Hahahaha! Anyway, it would have been nice to have more ventilation with all the frying she was doing. Our set meals arrived and the lady notified us that each plate on everyone’s set was different so we should all share. Brown rice was served with tofu, different kinds of seaweed salads, vegetarian spring rolls, cabbage, braised daikon with shitake mushrooms, miso soup, etc…Everything was tasty and very good and very affordable for the amount of food that we all got. Each set cost 1,000yen which is around US$10.50.
The food and value was worth the adventure of finding this place.
Thanks Lydia for sharing your photos!
For more information on Nishiki Market:
570, Nakano-cho, Teramachi-dori
Kyoto, Japan 600-8032