Kyoto or Osaka: any interesting chow suggestions?
I do a trip to Osaka every year and always hit up this place call DON (they have 2 locations) One is in American Town (near the shopping plaza) IT is a DONBURI place - think Tekka Don, NEgi Toro Don, Salmon Don etc - it is very good and very cheap (about $8 for a don)
It has never disappointed me!
In Kyoto I *highly* recommend Mishima-tei at the junction of Teramachi-dori (the covered shopping street) and Sanjo-dori. I've eaten at many top beef restaurants and this had by far the best meat I've ever tried, but it's expensive! It's a very old and traditional sukiyaki restaurant -- we tried both the top-grade version and the "tourist-grade" version. The tourist-grade is already better than any wagyu / kobe beef you find in America, but the top-quality meat is beyond belief (to save money you can get one order of both to compare -- that's what we did). I recommended it to my brother as well and he tried it a couple days after a top-end steak dinner in Kobe, and he agreed Mishima-Tei was better.
Also on Teramachi-dori and a little further south, there was a takoyaki stand (I'm not sure if it's still there -- I visited 4 years ago) with a long line. They have *great* takoyaki that you should try.
At the southern end of Teramachi there's a narrow street perpendicular that contains the Nishiki Food Market. It has about 130 small shops of all sorts of homey and delicious Japanese food -- go in the morning or at lunchtime for great grilled fish and seafood, mind-boggling selections of fresh pickles, etc. It's a truly wonderful place for a chowhound.
In Osaka the thing to try is okonomiyaki -- we tried a large and well-known place that our hotel recommended, sorry I don't remember the name but it's in the Dôtonbori area. There are also yummy takoyaki stands on the streets of Dôtonbori, go to ones that have the longest lines.
Have fun, there are lots of great chow in both those cities!
A few suggestions:
1) Kushiyaki (skewered meat) place on the 10th (?)floor of Isetan
2) Tofu place next door is good (order the yu-dofu and yuba)
3) http://www.himegozen.jp/ is an excelletn o-banzai place (kyoto homestyle cuisine). Great renkon (lotus root) tempura, nasu dengaku and a host of other local dishes
4) Owariya is a great soba place in a 500 yr old house
5) Yoshikawa is great for tempura (only go for lunch since it is much more reasonably priced)
In Kyoto I was really impressed with the okonomiyaki joint on the 11th or 12th floor of the train station - above the department store. It may have been the amazing architecture and the fantastic view (try and sit at the "chef's table" if it's available, or grab a window seat).
Another option for a beautiful setting would be to try one of the restaurants in the Fushimi Inari temple complex - there are restaurants in the surrounding hillside and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Osaka is, from what I've heard, the place to eat in Japan, something to do with the merchant class of the past restricted to spending their wealth on only food and entertainment. KObe beef, when prepared correctly, is better than anything you can imagine - have some cooked and have some raw.