Shopping in Kyoto's bustling Nishiki Market
Shopping in Kyoto's bustling Nishiki Market © Dave Stamboulis/Alamy

Once Japan’s capital, Kyoto is a city on the island of Honshu. Its rich history, culture and architecture are good reasons to visit. But there is another incentive to make the trip: food.

— To start the day, head to the foodie heaven of Nishiki Market (above), a huge 400-year-old market housed in a long passageway. The Japanese tend to prefer rice to sweet things for breakfast, and this staple is available with freshly made tamagoyaki, or rolled omelette, which is easy to eat on the hoof. Dig into the endless selection of free samples and stock up on your favourite Japanese delicacies.

— Don’t visit Japan without having ramen for lunch. Try Ichiran (below), where you can enjoy an umami-rich spiced pork ramen. It’s a welcome break from the busy markets, malls and side streets.

— Near the zoo, you can dine at Okakita, an excellent value udon noodle bar that is well worth queueing for. Sumibi Kushiyaki Torito features communal-style dining around big sharing plates of, say, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) or chicken sashimi.

Umami-rich ramen at Ichiran
Umami-rich ramen at Ichiran © Vichai Phububphapan/Alamy

— For simple, late-night dining “izakaya-style” — the Japanese equivalent of after-work drinks — head to Harumiya. On the way to your table, you’ll be led past an archetypal array of old men at the bar, puffing on cigarettes while playing cards. Don’t miss the okonomiyaki, a simple savoury pancake with greens and eggs; it’s incredibly cheap and delicious.

Adam Byatt is chef-patron at Trinity, Upstairs and Bistro Union located in Clapham, London; adambyatt.co.uk; trinityrestaurant.co.uk

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