Nishiki Market has been affectionately dubbed “Kyoto’s Kitchen” because this is where you can find everything related to food. The narrow, 5 block long shopping street houses more than 100 shops and restaurants. You can get fresh seafood, fresh and pickled vegetables and knives and cookware. Aritsugu, famous for their hand-crafted knives, is housed here too.
One of my favourite things to do when I am traveling is to visit traditional markets. Traditional markets give me a glimpse of the daily lives of the local people thought the food they eat. Traditional markets such as Nishiki Market is great place to find local specialties and souvenirs. Kyoto specialties such as Japanese sweets and matcha powder can all be found here. Cute sushi keychains make for excellent souvenirs for family and friends.
Most of the stalls in Nishiki Market open from 9am – 6pm. It can be reached on foot in less than 5 minutes from Shijo Station on the Karasuma Subway Line or Karasuma Station and Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line.
There are many stalls selling cooked foods and snacks, a trip down Nishiki Market is a great way in place of breakfast or lunch. However, prices can be a little expensive here, so be prepared and bring enough money with you. I have complied a list of 15 snacks you can eat as you tour Nishiki Market, many of which also make for great souvenirs.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Powdered Green Tea Bracken Rice Cake
You can’t miss this shop in Nishiki Market with the huge machine grinding fresh matcha powder at the entrance of the shop. This shop specialises in matcha powder from Uji, a town situated between Kyoto and Nara that is world-renowned for its matcha powder. You can find all types of matcha products here, but you definitely should get some of this powdered green tea bracken rice cake made with freshly-grounded Unji matcha. It’s great as a snack and these make terrific gifts that all your friends and family will enjoy.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Soy Milk, Kyou Dog and Cream Croquette
This stall in Nishiki Market sells freshly-made soy milk (hot/cold) at 200 Yen a cup, kyou dog (I am guessing “kyou” is shortform for “Kyoto”?) at 300 Yen apiece and cream croquette for 200 Yen each. The soy Milk are made with fresh Japanese soy beans without any preservatives and you have a choice of ketchup and mustard dressing or tofu sauce for your kyou dog. If you are touring Nishiki Market in the early morning without any breakfast, a cup of steaming soy milk and a kyou dog or cream croquette will make for an excellent breakfast.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Grilled Seafood
There are many stalls in Nishiki Market that sells grilled seafood. You will be able to find grilled cuttlefish, grilled squid, grilled tuna, grilled scallops and many more.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Fresh Seafood
There are grilled seafood and there are fresh seafood. You can get spicy mentaiko for 400 Yen a box, fresh scallops are 770 Yen a box while fresh cuttlefish are 200 Yen a stick.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Japanese Side Dishes
Japanese side dishes play an important part in any Japanese meal and this shop in Nishiki Market sells more than 40 Japanese side dishes. Be it potato salad, braised eggplant (nasi nibitashi) or boiled broad beans (soramame), they have it all. These make for great snacks and they do well as unique souvenirs.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Fried Food
With the increase in tourists touring Nishiki Market, more and more stalls are selling fried finger food such as this one. This stall has many interesting varieties such as onion and bacon, cabbage and ginger, bamboo shoots, squid and burdock and even quail eggs. Each piece costs between 70-350 Yen, theses fried snacks are perfect for munching as you venture down the alleys of Nishiki Market.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Grilled Eel (Unagi)
Kyoto is famous for unagi (freshwater eel) and it can also be found in many stalls in Nishiki Market. You can opt to have unagi by itself on a stick or have it as unagi sushi. A whole piece of unagi is about 1000 Yen while boxed unagi sushi can be bought for about 700 Yen. Marinated in a special unagi sauce and grilled over small flames, grilled unagi or unagi sushi is a must-have in Nishiki Market.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Grilled Chicken
If you are not a fan of seafood, fret not as there is a stall in Nishiki Market that specialises in grilled chicken. You can get grilled chicken wings, rolled chicken and even chicken skin. At 420-450 Yen apiece, it is a cheap and delicious snack that can be enjoyed by all.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Tamagoyaki
If you did not have a chance to have tamagoyaki at Tsukiji Market, you can still try the Japanese rolled omelette at Nishiki Market. The sweet egg omelette is sold at 350 Yen a piece and one piece is never enough.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Roasted Chestnuts
Roasted chestnuts is a cheap snack that is readily available in all parts of Japan and you can find it in Nishiki Market too. The chestnuts are roasted till the skin have popped open, so you should have no problem with shelling of the chestnuts. Eating too chestnuts can make you very thirsty, so make sure you have enough water to hydrate yourself.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Baby Octopus Stuffed with Quail Egg
These brightly-red baby octopus are a delicacy that you have to try. A quail egg is stuffed into the baby octopus and sold on a stick for 300 Yen. They are super tasty and rich in protein.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Japanese Traditional Snacks
You can buy Japanese traditional sweets in this shop. There are dango, mochi and wagashi. Everything is freshly-prepared on the day and reasonably-priced at 150-200 Yen a piece. Different wagashi are made at different time of the year to reflect the season.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Fresh Strawberries
I love how big and red the Japanese strawberries are in Japan. They are not as ridiculously-expensive as everyone makes it out to be. The small-sized strawberries are 290 Yen for a tray, medium ones are 330 Yen a tray and even the large strawberries are only 490 Yen a tray.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Fresh Orange Juice
If you are thirsty after all the walking and eating, refreshing yourself with one of these freshly-juiced orange, contained in its original orange skin.
Eat at Nishiki Market: Fresh Sea Urchin (Uni)
I have had my first taste of fresh sea urchin (uni) in Tsukiji Market and I find that I like it. It has a slight sweetness and the wasabi that is served along with it helps to kill the germs. If you have not tried fresh sea urchin, do give it a try. It is an experience of a lifetime.
There are the 15 street food that you should not miss in Nishiki Market. Please leave a comment below if I have missed out any items that you think ought to be in this list.”