Here are 5 carefully selected summer desserts, from refreshing sweet treats to voluminous parfaits, which you won’t want to miss when you visit Kyoto.
1. Kuzukiri (Kagizen Yoshifusa)
Kagizen Yoshifusa is an old, established store with 300 years of history, known for having the best kuzukiri (arrowroot noodles) in Kyoto. Kuzukiri is a noodle dish that uses powder made from the root of the kudzu plant. Kudzu is also known in Japan as an herbal medicine since long ago. Although kuzukiri itself is almost tasteless, it is served with syrup, which creates an enjoyable balance between the smooth texture of the noodles and the sweetness of the syrup. This dessert is perfect for summer as it is chilled, and is not sickly sweet. Kagizen Yoshifusa’s Kuzukiri (1,000 JPY) has a perfect amount of chewiness to it. The syrup is made using carefully selected ingredients to go with that texture to create a satisfying collaboration. There are 2 types of syrups to choose from. This restaurant is a recommended place to cool down and rest in between sightseeing.
2. Warabimochi (Saryo Hosen)
Saryo Hosen is a restaurant owned by Hosendo, Kyoto’s historical Japanese-confectionery company. In this restaurant, Japanese tea and seasonal sweets can be enjoyed. The restaurant has a traditional Japanese atmosphere and a beautiful garden which can be seen from the tables. The dessert we recommend at this restaurant is Warabimochi (1,100 JPY), which is made fresh to order. Warabimochi is a refreshing appearance Japanese dessert made using starch from warabi (bracken) root, water and sugar. Saryo Hosen uses strictly selected domestic warabi powder to achieve a mild sweetness and doughy texture in their Warabimochi. Please taste this delicious dessert without syrup first, before add the brown sugar syrup in small increments to taste. This restaurant is perfect for those looking for a luxurious time in a calming atmosphere.
3. Wagamama Kori Ice (Kaden Kyoame Gion Koishi)
Kaden Kyoame Gion Koishi is a candy store where colorful and beautifully designed Kyoto candies can be purchased. They also have a cafe in the store where they serve Japanese sweets with homemade brown sugar syrup, such as anmitsu (a dessert made of small cubes of agar jelly, red peas, gyuhi (dough made from refined rice flour or glutinous rice flour with sugar or starch syrup), dried fruits like apricot, and sweetened red bean paste), warabimochi and shaved ice.
The recommended item on this cafe’s menu is the limited-time Wagamama Kori Ice (1,000 JPY), made with anmitsu topped with shaved ice. Usually these desserts are eaten separately, but as you eat through the shaved ice you'll reach the ingredients of the anmitsu like gyuhi and the jelly cubes so you'll be able to enjoy two menu items at once. They offer six different flavors such as brown sugar milk and Uji matcha. This is definitely worth trying.
*The photo is for illustrative purposes.
4. Brown Sugar Syrup Tofu Sweets (Yumeji Cafe Goryukaku)
The Yumeji Cafe Goryukaku building, in the style of the Taisho era, was designed by one of the leading architects of Japan, Goichi Takeda. The interior of the cafe displays works by Yumeji Takeshita, a famous Japanese artist. Kyoto is a location famous for the production of tofu, and this cafe offers dishes using tofu and soy milk produced during tofu-making. Our recommendation is the Brown Sugar Syrup Tofu Sweets (620 JPY). This is a dessert in which tofu is served with kinako (soybean flour) and brown sugar syrup. It is a simple yet delicious dessert with the perfect balance between tofu with the lingering scent of beans, the aroma of kinako, and the sweetness of brown sugar syrup. This is a perfect and refreshing dessert for the scorching summer weather.
5. Green Tea Parfait (OKU)
OKU, located in Gion, is a cafe/bar that offers obanzai (light Kyoto-style home cooked meals) during lunch hours and tachinomi (drinking while standing) at a counter during dinner hours. It has an appearance characteristic of traditional Kyoto, and a calm interior atmosphere. Although it is a perfect place to stop by and just have a drink like beer or champagne, they are also highly rated for their desserts. Especially the green tea parfait (1,290 JPY), with many ingredients like green tea mousse, panna cotta, red bean ice cream, and green tea ice cream, is very popular. The parfait also has toppings that are specialties of Kyoto, like warabimochi and namafu (steamed wheat starch originating in Kyoto). This is a highly recommended dessert that can only be tasted in Kyoto.
There are many delicious sweets offered in Kyoto during summer. Please experience the taste of Kyoto as part of your journey.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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