Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nishiki Market @ Kyoto

Geishas (remember the famous "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arther Golden?) and Kyoto was the only connection I had before stepping foot on the city. Historically speaking, it was the imperial capital of Japan. Originally, I wanted to dine with the Geishas or even watch them perform but these were canned unfortunately.

I love Kyoto for many reasons and one of which is the juxtaposition of present and past all captured in one area. Across the bridge from the traditional Gion district where you find all things old school and dated, you'll find yourself in modern day Kyoto filled with upmarket departmental stores. Located in the Kawaramachi district, Nishiki market is a lane full of shops which I term, a food paradise.

An easier way of locating it? Walk across the bridge, stay on the opposite side of Takashimaya...keep walking till you see a police station..turn into the lane of shops. Half way through, you'd see Lotteria fast food, turn into the lane and voila! You're at the doorstep of Nishiki market. Be mindful of their closing hours though, not too sure if the 6pm closing time applies all year round but for winter, they do shut their doors on time.

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The only signs that indicate you're reaching the famous market!

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The shop owners are generous with their samples and getting yourself full from the sampling is a given. I gleefully pranced through three lanes full of shops, twice in two days....the allure of this place is irresistible. Here's the lowdown of what I charmed us most though if time permitted, I wish I bought a bit of every shop! Prices are definitely on the higher end but we've learnt that for Japan, the price and quality are directly proportional.

One of the shops along the way that had hordes of people jostling to sample their fresh nuts. I had my fair share of black beans and preserved fruit! Had it not been for the hefty price tag and a wee bit of impulse, I would have emptied my yen for preserved kiwi, strawberries, mangoes and plums.

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Shops selling nuts and preserved fruit are a dime too many along the alley.

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Beef Manju bun was on the list of to try and it's hard to miss it. Afterall, there's only one such stall that sells it anyway!

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Our manju bun being wrapped.

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Other flavours?

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Fresh off the oven!

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Transactional.

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Beef Manju Bun

They should rename it bamboo shoot bun with shredded beef. On the sweet side. Overrated!

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The next item on the list of to try was soy donuts, recommended by people whom I knew and barely knew. There had to be some truth with all the fame, I figured. Located right at the end of the stretch, I was almost running towards it bearing in mind their closing time at 6pm sharp.

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A full view of their wares.

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Soymilk donuts, prepacked. We were too late afterall, to nab the fresh ones.

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Poetic paper bags.

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Donuts or icecream?

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On the second day, we managed to catch them hot off the fryer, whoopee!

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Cute and edible are synonymous in Japan.

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Tonyu Soy Donuts (300 Yen for 13 pcs)

I had them chilled and piping hot. Strangely, these tasted better cold! Spongey when hot, dense when cold. They had soymilk icecreams too but the temperature was too cold to take on the icecream challenge. Figure this would be perfect for summer!

Fishcakes

The fishcakes in Japan are worlds apart from the bouncy ones we have here. Theirs has alot more vegetables blended in hence the softer consistency.

Walking out empty handed is unforgivable, there is bound to be something worth buying through the lanes. I only wish I had more time.

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幸福堂 has such a poetic ring to its name. Specialising in wagashi, daifukus are the maindraw of this shop.

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Customized lantern.

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The takeaways.

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Dorayaki, a staple Japanese snack.

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Sakura flavoured rice with red bean stuffing, I love how this looked and tasted! Oh soooo pretty!

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Daifuku

The smoothest azuki bean paste filling enveloped in the softest most malleable mochi skin makes this shop a total sell out.

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The second confectionery

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Daifukus are so hard to resist. This was lacking in the bean paste texture, alot more processed and sweet.

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Red bean paste kueh embedded with chestnuts, pretty homemade.

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Kyoto biscuits that are a must try and must buy! I picked them off a random shop in Nishiki market.

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Crunchy rusk biscuits. As guiltless as they were, the packet was polished off within minutes.

Sights along the way of Nishiki Market that I cannot get enough of. It was almost like Harry Potter going through ...to buy his first owl and first wand.

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Piping hot fishcakes that were apparently franchised in Singapore.

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Upclose of the sticks that everyone seemed to be holding on to.

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Dazzling array of sweet treats.

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Raw wasabi root...anyone?

I am a sucker for markets, of any kind. Really glad that we made it there over two days. Worth a visit, for a feel of the enchanting. If all fails, just ask anyone around...the kind folks do direct you there!

Nishiki Market
Kyoto

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