As the former imperial capital, Kyoto’s cuisine is linked to its regal history and landlocked geography. It’s home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, many of which specialize in multi-course kaiseki meals served to diners seated on tatami mats. That doesn’t mean visitors need to spend a fortune to stay fueled while shrine hopping. Kyoto’s food charms really lie in exploring local delicacies served in basement ramen shops, at street stalls inside Nishiki Market or behind nondescript izakaya doors.
1. Kyoto-style ramen
Tenkaippin (or, as the locals call it, Ten'ichi) is a ramen chain with locations throughout Japan. Founded in Kyoto in 1981, it’s known for a thick and rich kotteri ramen made from boiling chicken bones for 14 hours. The opaque, gravy-like broth is loaded with eggy noodles and garnished with sliced pork, bamboo shoots and green onions. Between slurps, diners adjust the flavor to their preference using condiments like sesame seeds, chili paste and a spicy sesame oil.