Kyoto’s Nishiki Market runs along a four- or five-block length of pedestrian street fitted with stalls and little shops selling an eye-popping smorgasbord of food and food-related things, from kombu to artisanal knives to mochi to Japanese spices to skewers to seafood. So much sensory overload from just a thirty-minute stroll down this narrow corridor of heaven.
Fish cake skewers with a variety of combination fillings. I tried the one with sweet potato, which in retrospect was a bit too heavy given my late lunch and my early omakase sushi dinner, but at the time I did not regret it. The steamer keeps the cake hot and moist, while the sweet potato lends some body and a soft, grainy texture. Knives and knives and knives, at Aritsugu, whose storied history dates back to the mid-1500s, when the founder was a swordmaker for the imperial family:
Ochanoko, a spice shop, where I picked up a yuzu spice mix, a classic seven-spice (shichimi), and a custom rose-scented spice mix, courtesy of the spice buffet below. In order to sample a mixture, they add a pinch to a small paper cup along with a dose of hot water – you take a drink to immediately experience what you’re getting. A potpourri of fried goodies – I grabbed a small bag of sweet potato fries (yes, I did somewhat unwittingly eat a lot of sweet potato in my one hour at Nishiki) with onions.An endless parade of joy, Nishiki Market was a drool-inducing promenade through some of Kyoto’s longest-running purveyors of premium ingredients, gourmet goods, artisanal wares – a centuries-old monument to high-quality sourcing and craftsmanship.