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Warning! There’s a photo overload in this post, but I couldn’t leave out a single course, you’ll see why.
The word Kaiseki has a history. The Japanese kanji characters that make up the word literally mean ‘stone to the bosom’. This refers to the warm stones that monks-in-training held inside their robes to stave off hunger, but it eventually became known to refer to the elaborate degustation-style multiple course meal served at formal tea ceremonies.
These days Kaiseki is an art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance and colours of the dishes served. Kaiseki chefs will only ever use fresh seasonal or local ingredients and pay very close attention to presentation. The most interesting part for me, is that the dishes are served on carefully selected plates and bowls chosen to enhance the appearance and seasonal theme of the meal.
Roan Kikunoi restaurant in Kyoto is famous for three generations of owners. The current owner, Yoshihiro Murata, is extremely loved in Japan and has written several successful cookbooks. He has two Kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto and one in Tokyo. On the day I went to Roan Kikunoi in Kyoto he was there, which I was pretty pleased about.
We sat at the bar and watched some of the 8 courses get prepared. Our chef described most ingredients but I couldn’t quite catch it all – I didn’t want to look nerdy with a notebook! Sorry if I can’t tell you what everything is, please just enjoy the mystery.
First Course, pictured above. There’s so many little parts to this dish but they all worked together beautifully as a seafood theme. The grilled prawns were tiny and crispy. I ate them whole, head and all, delicious. (more…)
I could seriously eat gyoza every day of my life and not get bored with them. I’m completely in awe and amore with the silky noodle casing, fragrant filling and crispy grilled edge. Absolute perfection. (more…)
I couldn’t identify all the ingredients! Then I went back a second time and still had trouble working out what was in the marinade.
That hasn’t happened to me in a long time. I’ve come across meals where I’m unsure of the technique but not where I couldn’t identify the flavours.
I was actually very surprised to find that I didn’t feel frustrated with my lack of knowledge (being the perfectionist that I am) but instead was genuinely happy to have such an intriguing puzzle to solve.
I’m hoping my third visit will unlock the key… even more so if I can magically learn French or Arabic and ask the nice men that work there. (Google will help me).
But I’ve jumped ahead a bit, let’s go back a few steps. (more…)
When you pass a shop window display like that it’s very difficult not to stop. You might even forget where you were going in the first place. All you know is that you want that. Want it now.
It happened to us on our way to the Picasso Museum. We were just casually strolling along when our peripheral vision was assaulted – Dillon literally screeched to a dead halt and did a double-take. No joke.
Meringues were piled high (taller than me! But that’s not hard as I’m only 4 foot 10 and 3/4 inches) and dozens of perfectly browned pastries stacked neatly, overlapping. Those were what intrigued us the most.
It’s quite a site, isn’t it? 100% sugary, nutty, flaky pastry goodness; called Coques de llardons. A bargain at 2 euros. (more…)
After exploring the fascinating cobble-stoned narrow streets in East Kyoto for a few hours we realised it was quite late and that we hadn’t had dinner.
We turned a corner, passed a few hostess bars, spotted a geisha walking across the road and saw some bright lights up ahead with a queue forming. It looked like the classic late-night fast food place you’d go to after (quite) a few drinks.
There was just one very busy chef making pancake / omelette things on a flat grill out the front and they smelt incredibly good. Without even knowing what it was we gestured to the waitress that we’d like to sit. (more…)