Where to go in Kyoto
It had to be fate. We booked our Airbnb in Kyoto quite a while ago because we would be arriving in the busy cherry blossom season (Sakura). When the blossoms start to bloom Japan is packed with tourists eager to see and photograph the beautiful blossom and even participate in the local customs to celebrate the beginning of new life with picnics and parties under the blossoming trees (Hanami).
To decide which neighbourhood we want to stay in, I always research in advance where the vegan and plant-based restaurants are. I do this for convenience reasons and because they’re often situated in the hip and happening neighbourhoods of a city. Like the Marais in Paris or Omotesando in Tokyo.
But in Kyoto it was not that obvious as the city is quite stretched out, which made it difficult to choose the right neighbourhood. We didn’t know what to expect, but hey, there were bikes included in our stay so we would be mobile enough to find those hidden veggie gems.
And then, just before we left Paris, I checked the restaurants in Kyoto again and there was Gomacro! Just around the corner of our apartment. It looked cozy, clean and advertised itself with a healthy Japanese macrobiotic menu, a small shop and even take-away. It had to be fate.
Sesame sesame sesame
So on our first day we headed over to Gomacro for lunch and found a health food sanctuary.
When entering, the first thing you’ll notice is the comforting smell of freshly grinded sesame. The seating area is bright, has large windows and a modern interior but they had me at hello! (Konnichiwa;)
There are several items on the menu such as a vegetable curry and a vegan burger. We went for the macrobiotic lunch set with miso soup, rice, seaweed and colourful veggies. During our wait we had a nice view on the open kitchen where we could see the smiling chef work his magic. But soon, we had to work too! We were provided with two grinders and bowls to grind our own black and white sesame. When our food arrived, the chef explained we could use the sesame as a condiment together with the hot sauce and the gomasio (more sesame) that were on the table.
Our plates looked too beautiful to eat. But our curiosity of what all these colourful looking dishes would taste like, won. And what a pleasure it was. All of the small dishes were fresh, pure and perfectly balanced. Ginger, shiro miso, sweet potato, the set included even homemade fermented vegetables. Afterwards we felt nourished and understood.
Fortunately, they share their food wisdom and provide cooking courses above the restaurant. If you’re in the area, definitely check out their next cooking workshop (in English) on April, 16th on the basics of vegan Japanese and macrobiotic cooking.
If Kyoto didn’t have so many sights to see and neighbourhoods to explore, I would have hung out there our entire stay! Luckily, they have take-out bento boxes for a nice picnic alongside the Kamo River under the cherry blossoms. Rent a bike and join the locals! Happy Hanami!
Gomacro Salon Kyoto, hours: 11am-7pm, closed Monday.
Kyoto Nakagyo-ku, Shinmachidori Oike Shitaru Shinmei-cho, 67-3 (Oike Shinmachi Street southeast corner) Metro: Karasuma line or Tozai line Stop: Karasuma Oike
More Greens? Vegan Travel has more tips on where to go in Kyoto