And now it’s on our to-do list any time we visit Kyoto!

Vending machines these days have well surpassed our expectations. Not only do they sell a wide variety of interesting drinks, but some even sell whole meals like hot sandwiches and noodles, niche products like retro toothbrushes, and local delicacies.

But one particular vending machine we found under the streets of Kyoto, in the Zest Oike shopping center, might have them all beat. It catches the eye of every passerby, with beautiful art both on the machine and around it, a stylish, creative design, and a simple sign.

It’s called “Chef’s Table”, and it serves “Cuisine Francaise du Jour”…authentic French food!

Naturally, it caught our eye too. It was elegant in how it blended in with the wall behind it. It was so fancy looking it almost made us nervous.

Inside were tons of ready-made French dishes. On the top row were salads, below that appetizers, and then main dishes. There was so much variety, we couldn’t take our eyes off it! It was basically offering a customizable multi-course meal. Several items were already sold out, so we have to assume this is a pretty popular vending machine.

The prices weren’t nearly as expensive as we would have expected. Salads and appetizers were mostly around 500 yen (US$3.38) each, and main courses were about 1,000 yen.

To try it out, we decided try make our own three-course meal. The vending machine was pretty high-tech, with a touch-screen terminal that came in both English and Japanese. Both cash and IC cards were accepted.

We wavered a bit on what to get, but in the end we decided to have a meat-based course meal, since we were pretty hungry. With our items in hand, we quickly headed back to our hotel to chow down.

For our salad course, we got the Farmer’s Morning Harvest Seasonal Vegetable Salad (450 yen). The plastic container was stuffed with colorful ingredients, which ended up being quite a lot of food.

The large tomato wedges were especially appealing. They were juicy and had a really nice texture. The salad didn’t come with a dressing, but it didn’t really need one. We really enjoyed eating it plain.

For our appetizer, we got the “Chef’s Choice Smoked Assortment”, which looked full of meaty goodness. The delicious smoky aroma this gave off really got our appetites stirring.

The assortment came with thick-cut bacon, eggs, salted mackerel, and chicken breast meat, which provided plenty of variety. We especially liked the plump and tender cuts of bacon. We couldn’t get enough of that smoky flavor, which was rich and delicious.

Last up was the main course, French Style Fried Chicken with Tartar Sauce (830 yen).

Apparently, this dish needs to be really well heated before being eaten, so we made sure to nuke it good in our hotel microwave before topping it with the included tarter sauce.

We were already a bit full from the salad and the appetizer, but we had to complete our French three-course meal, so we took a bite. The batter soaked with sweet and spicy sauce paired with the juicy and tender chicken was absolutely exquisite. One bite would never do, so we kept taking more and more. With every bite, every chew, our mouths filled with umami.

On top of that, adding the smoked tarter sauce brought this dish to a whole other level. The sweet, sour, and smoky sauce was the perfect complement to the fried chicken. We only wished we had some piping hot rice to eat alongside it. Full as we were, it would’ve paired wonderfully.

That concluded our three-course dinner of French cuisine that we purchased from a vending machine, but we had absolutely zero regrets. All three dishes were delicious, and we were stuffed to the brim after our meal. Plus, we only spent 1,780 yen. Where else would you get authentic French cuisine for less than 2,000 yen…and in three courses, no less?

The next time we’re in Kyoto, we’ll be coming back to this vending machine for dinner…Unless we decide to stop for dinner and a show at Kichi Kichi instead.

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