Translated by Lester Somera
Two Places In Kyoto To Visit To Taste Excellent Local Cuisine
Written by Anna Namikawa
Kyoto is a popular place to visit. We introduce you to two traditional Kyoto restaurants which make great use of the local ingredients that play a vital role in Kyoto cuisine.
Catch an express train from the JR Kyoto Station, pass through the Hozu-Kyo Ravine, and you will arrive at the neighboring Kameoka City after 20 minutes. Kameoka is also known as the end of the line for the Torokko train line, which departs from Saga-Arashiyama.
However, speaking as a native of Kameoka, I think it’s a great shame that many Torokko passengers head back to Arashiyama almost as soon as they arrive in Kameoka.
That’s why we’re going to introduce you today to some ways to enjoy the depths of Kameoka’s appeal, as recommended by local people. After this, you’ll definitely come back to Kameoka again and again!
Kameoka, Agricultural Backbone of Kyoto’s Culinary Scene
Kameoka City coexists with the natural landscape and receives nature’s blessing. With more than 2000 hectares of farmland and clean water that produces delicious crops, Kameoka produces a plentiful variety of Kyo vegetables that bear the Kyoto brand.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Kameoka’s agricultural produce is the backbone that supports Kyoto cuisine. Now, we’ll introduce you to two local favorites where you can taste that Kameoka deliciousness.
Two Restaurants Where You Can Eat Special Kameoka Produce
1. Oshokuji-dokoro Hattori
The first restaurant, located in front of Kameoka Station, is a little place called Oshokuji-dokoro. At this restaurant, you can enjoy teishoku set meals and alcohol in both the afternoon and in the evening.
Inside, the a la carte and seasonal item menus are written on a blackboard.
This is the teishoku menu (English version in the works). Each one is delicious, so you’ll want to try a different one every time you visit. The chef continues to research cooking daily, and apparently he is finally convinced of the quality of his latest tempura batch. You feel his conviction that he wants to serve up the most delicious food possible.
In addition, Hattori’s sabazushi (mackerel sushi) is so famous locally that people say “if you want sabazushi, go to Hattori.” The chef has been running the restaurant for 37 years. He told me, “There’s no better job than this, seeing satisfied customers’ smiles and receiving their thanks.”
This is a photo of my favorite, the sushi teishoku, priced at 850 yen.
The Kameoka-grown rice is lustrous and faintly sweet, to the point that you reflexively want to ask for a second helping. The teishoku sets also make use of locally-grown vegetables and tofu from a local tofu shop, so you can sample plenty of truly local dishes.
Finally, the chef has two requests for visitors. On one hand, he wants to serve delicious food to people from all over the world; however, he has gotten older and his stamina isn’t what it used to be, so rather than coming during the busy lunch hour, he recommends that visitors try to come to Hattori on weekday evenings. Also, the shop interior is cramped, so please avoid bringing large suitcases and other bulky luggage items inside.
2. Kameoka Hasamu Koppe-pan
The second place I want to introduce is Kameoka Hasamu Koppe-pan, a koppe-pan (*1) specialty shop 12 minutes away from Kameoka Station. Apparently the founder wanted to sell something where regional ingredients played a central role, and finally settled on koppe-pan.
*1: Koppe-pan is a flat bread roll eaten in Japan, similar to a hot dog bun.
Starting from the right-hand side, we have the koppe-pan roll with anko bean jam (*2) and margarine (180 yen). The anko bean jam is made from Tanba Dainagon azuki beans, praised even by Kyoto’s venerable sweets shops. Next is the koppe-pan roll filled with a Kameoka beef croquette (220 yen), which uses Kameoka-brand beef. Finally, there is the shop's newest creation, with a gentle sweetness that permeates your whole body: the walnut and anko bean jam koppe-pan roll (180 yen).
*2: Anko is a jam made by boiling azuki beans together with sugar. This jam is a common filling in Japanese sweets.
We asked the shopkeeper, who moved to Kameoka from a different area, about the appeal of Kameoka food.
“Maybe it’s because people from Kameoka know what delicious food is because they taste it on a daily basis?”
Kameoka has a bountiful array of foodstuffs like vegetables, Kameoka beef, Tanba-brand local chickens, Umaji Dainagon azuki beans, but if you’re from Kameoka, you don’t really notice how wonderful the food is. While the Kameoka area is a bountiful producer, there still aren’t many places you can go to eat locally-sourced food.
”I want many people, not just Kameoka residents, to know about the city’s wealth of food.”
That affection is packed into the filling of each koppe-pan roll. The rolls are purposely made to be not too large, because the owner wants visitors to try many different flavors, little by little.
“I want to transmit the virtues of Kameoka as far as I can.”
The shopkeeper puts this lovely sentiment into his koppe-pan rolls. The sight of the staff at Kameoka Hasamu Koppe-pan, carefully filling each roll with Kameoka ingredients, was impressive.
Compared to neighboring Kyoto, Kameoka is not yet very well-known. However, when you come to Kyoto, why not stretch your legs a bit? Come visit Kameoka to discover the taste of the local ingredients that sustain Kyoto’s world-famous cuisine.
Address: Kyoto, Kameoka City, Oiwake-cho, Baba-dori 6-1
Hours: 11:30-13:30, 18:00-21:00
Closed: Wednesdays and Thursdays
Credit cards: Cash only
Foreign language menus: Being developed
Nearest station: JR Kameoka Station (亀岡駅)
Access: 3 minutes from the south exit on foot
Price: Starting at 750 yen
Kameoka Hasamu Koppe-pan
Address: Kyoto, Kameoka City, Yasumachi Nakahata 167
Closed: Sundays, Mondays and public holidays
Nearest station: JR Kameoka Station (亀岡駅)
Access: 12 minutes from the south exit on foot
Price: 150-320 yen
Homepage: Kameoka Hasamu Koppe-pan