Japan honeymoon: Kyoto

The Cocoon Room

Our Airbnb in Kyoto was such a beautiful surprise. Yes, we had photos and managed to preview it, but being there was just so much better. We loved the simplicity of the decor and the ‘cocoon’ just added that special touch.

It also helped that the toilet and bath area was really clean. It didn’t have one of those hi-tech Japanese toilet bowls but it did heat up which helped a lot in the morning.

Trash was an issue however, and it seems that the kyoto-ians take their trash and recycling very seriously. No garbage outside the house, recycling has to be done diligently, and general trash bins seemed to elude us. But our pleasant experience more than made up for this and we unanimously agreed that Kyoto is our favourite.

Walked up the stairs to this
Welcomed by a simple post-it

Bookshelf where the owner’s photo book was on display


Huge mirror in front of the cocoon

Honke Owariya

As I was browsing Sean’s (our airbnb owner) list of recommendations, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that Honke Owariya is his wife’s family restaurant. We met briefly as she left the building that day – she’s really elegant and pretty. It must be the soba.

The special – slightly more than Β₯2000. Featuring 5 layers of plain soba that you can mix and match the ingredients on the side with. It had fried prawn, sesame, mushrooms, egg, seaweed, daikon and spring onions. It was splendid.
My simple first one
And the more adventurous second
Instructions on how to eat it
Mixed tempura, including a soba tempura which reminded us of mamee and zichar sangmin
Plain cold soba on our second visit. Less than Β₯1000. We squeezed another meal in before we went to Osaka. They were sweet to help us keep our luggage inside the first level of the shop. We went there at 1130am on a Friday and after our meal, we saw a long queue forming.

I’ll miss you Owariya. Cue dramatic Japanese music…

Roan Kikunoi

After doing some research online, I found this place for kaiseki. It’s not the usual tatami sit-down kaiseki which costs a bomb but it was perfect for us. Pretty informal and not too elaborate, it made for a good introductory kaiseki as we did not stay at a ryokan. Ours was the Β₯7000++ lunch kaiseki (reduced) set. It was more than enough for us. I observed that for all customers, they packed the leftover rice dish and made rice balls for takeaway. We had it late at night and it was still delicious.

The most senior chef there went out for some fresh air as we exited and gamely obliged our request for a photo. Such beautiful dishes.

They had an English menu that we could take home too.

The Japanese menu, along with the Kyoto daikon which they showed us. I love how they take pride in their ingredients. Even a humble radish can take centre-stage in a dish.

I’d definitely recommend Roan Kikunoi to those visiting Kyoto for the first time and are intimidated by the intricacies of a full kaiseki.

Elephant Factory Coffee

After youtubing a travelog, we found this place. It was a gem. There were many magazines that we could browse and it was a perfect time for Immanuel and I to discuss what we envisioned our new home to be.


I listened to Cherlynn and made sure we went to Yoshinoya. It was beef bowl heaven. Good food doesn’t always have to be expensive. We had a grilled beef rib bowl and a sukiyaki. And tonjiru. Love.

Sumibi Torito

We also made a trip to this yakitori place which had pretty good reviews on trip advisor.

We didn’t know what chicken oysters were but ordered anyway. Turns out to be a part of the chicken which is super tender and succulent. It was the BEST skewer we ordered there that we had a second helping. Also echoed by the guy opposite us at the shared table.

We got to talk to two American men who were in Japan for a while before heading to Singapore for 2 days. They were visiting a good friend of theirs who owns a couple of restaurants in Singapore, one of which is at MBS. *WHOH* They must’ve been some culinary experts. After hearing that we were on our honeymoon, they ordered a second drink for us each. How sweet and cool.

One of them asked for the best chicken rice in Singapore. How could I explain that the one at Bedok South is really value for money and that the late LKY used to patronise them? And how could I explain that the N2 one near my place had the BEST, THICK, REAL, chicken rice chilli and sauce that complemented the chicken, AND had such a generous serving of rice? And how could I explain that the Potong Pasir coffeeshop’s chicken rice was the most fragrant, plump, savoury rice that I ever had for chicken rice and that it had such a lovely brown hue?

So I typed on his phone: Boon Tong Kee.

I hope that was good enough and that his restaurant-owning friend had an even better recommendation.

Potato with butter
Some part of the chicken, might have been the heart – which was a little too big for me this time.


Glad that we managed to make a trip to Ichiran in Kyoto because the Osaka branches had queues that were way too long for us (in the cold, you know!)

It did wonders for my sinus, but ramen is really not something that I would rave about. I thought the broth was yummy, and noodles were AWESOME because I could choose extra firm. But it wasn’t something that I’d HAVE TO eat again. One really great thing about it was that the extra firm noodles reminded me of the Crawford Lane Hill Street Tai Hwa Ba Chor Mee that I absolutely love. Strange comparison but the moment I sunk my teeth into the firm noodles, I immediately had the same sensation as when eating the mee kia from that stall.

Hotel Kanra Kyoto

“Who needs [insert random hotel name], when you have KANRA?”

This was a recurring line for us in Japan. Hotel Kanra must have been one of the tops of our trip. The minimalistic yet traditional decor just totally stole our hearts and kept it under lock and key forever.

Automatic wooden doors, revealing a second automatic glass door inside
The ‘gate’ to our room
Our little moss garden
Our lovely bed, and those are REAL windows!
Intricate hexagonal tiles lining the toilet walls
Perfect floor tiles, comfortable Japanese cypress wood tub, and even excellent drainage

Granted, Kanra was newly renovated when we stayed – just two months old, but if they can actually keep up with this standard, we’d likely make multiple trips back to Kyoto JUST FOR THIS.

Nishiki market

So pleased with our buys from the market. My galaxy umbrella and his traditional dull blue rimmed Japanese umbrella. Excellent quality, worth the splurge.
So tempted to get all the colours
Waiting patiently for our uni
Uni, with a generous portion of soy sauce on the side
Fishcake with quail eggs!
My true love. Vinegared cucumbers on a stick. It was good in the sweltering heat years back and still good in the cold weather on this trip.
Corn dog with tofu dressing on top
Skewered stuffed squid and scallops
Green tea ice cream and mochi which had extensive ‘rules’ we had to follow in order to eat it outside the shop


Kyoto had so many beautifully designed buildings that I just had to snap.

Streets & skies

Yup, trust the tropical city-dweller to keep snapping photos of roadside trees and sky views.

So glad we went to Kyoto for the first leg of our honeymoon. We’d definitely be back soon! Lord, please provide ❀