One of the perks of working at Bento&co is that our lunch break always involves the most delicious of foods. Sometimes we bring beautiful, home-made bentos. Other times, we go on a little adventure to discover another one of Kyoto's amazing restaurants. While Kyoto is known for its traditional Japanese cuisine, it is also an international hub for some of the best foreign foods that are arguably on par with its country of origin's.
On this edition of Kyoto Food Chronicles, we'll share with you some of our favorite affordable local gaijin (foreigner) eats: Que Pasa, Land, and Tiger Gyoza Hall.
Que Pasa - Best Burrito in Japan?
Quality Tex-Mex is a rare find in Japan...especially in Kyoto; which is why we were super excited when we found Que Pasa. A small shop that just open a few months ago, Que Pasa has a fun 80's American feel, playing all the classics on their old school boombox. The owner, Ryota-san, is a young Japanese that, due to his father's work, moved to California when he was an elementary student and stayed until high school. Upon his return to Japan, he decided to bring to Kyoto what he found it was missing - Tex-Mex burritos and tacos.
Now we've tried a few places with burritos and tacos here in Kyoto but these were hands down THE best (maybe even the best in Japan?). At Que Pasa, you can get ingredients in your tacos that are nearly impossible to find in Japan: cilantro (coriander), sour cream, guacamole. Ryota-san grows/makes these all himself. The burrito size choices range from half to king and on "Taco Tuesdays" you can get tacos for just ¥300. We can rave about it forevery but all in all, a great place...we are a bit addicted and have already been there twice (or more 😜 ) within just one week.
Land - Not your typical Japanese bakery
Not so far away from Que Pasa is a very special bakery with a rustic feel called Land. Most bakeries we've found here in Kyoto focus are more so French influenced. However, Land does something a bit different: Bagels and Bánh mì.
We were surprised to see bagels on their menu since we haven't seen them since our trip to America last year. They had a nice variety of bagels that ranged from chocolate to the everything bagel. We also noticed that they had the Vietnamese- French fusion sandwich Bánh mì, which isn't even available at any of the authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Kyoto. Intrigued, we decided to order a Bánh mì and an everything bagel sandwich with cream cheese, tomato, and lox (smoked salmon). The result? Heavenly...even our Vietnamese and American colleagues approved that they were truly the real thing. We'll definitely be back for more!
Tiger Gyoza Hall
Last on our list of yummy gaijin eats is Chinese-Japanese restaurant, Tiger Gyoza Hall. Most of our experiences in Chinese restaurants in Japan have been pretty disappointing. So, when we first heard about how flavorful everything is at Tiger Gyoza Hall, we couldn't wait to try it.
The menu was quite big however we wanted to try it all...so we decided to share 4 dishes amongst each other: Spicy Red Tomato Ramen, Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) Chicken Ramen, Garlic Pork Fried Rice, and Gyoza (pan-fried dumplings). As the each dish arrived onto the table, we watched incessantly, like tiger hunting their prey. And as soon as the last dish was set down, we pounced swiftly. Our previous words of excitement were replaced by noodle slurping and occasional grunts in approval of the rich flavors. When the dust settled, we had gone back to our normal, typical selves, discussing what we should eat next.
The whole tomato in the red spicy ramen was surprisingly scrumptious!
The Yuzu Chicken Ramen made for a light, refreshing balance.
We got the big size pork garlic fried rice for our tiger-sized stomachs!