(And this is the part of every vacation that I start to get homesick and crave the routine of my very nice and ordinary life, and have my cats sleep on top of me again)
Lunch: Kikunoi, Kyoto
This is what a three Michelin starred bento lunch looks like. The location was lovely, with me sitting at a counter overlooking a lovely garden. Service at first was quite impeccable. When I initially made the reservation they asked me if I had any dislikes. I told him that I really don't care for egg dishes. In the middle of eating, there was a flurry of attention as someone probably read a note regarding this in the kitchen. I told them not to worry about it since was there was just a single slice of tamago in the tray.
There was a lot of attention put into this meal. I think my expectations might of been a bit too high. Nothing was bad per se, but nothing thriled me either. Also of note, this was the first meal I've had in Japan that started to make me feel heavy and over-served. And as I have come to be mindful of the magic of dashi at this point, I have to say that their dashi was not particularly memorable. But it was a nice and pleasant way to spend an hour in a beautiful room enjoying some food.
Restaurant was located right in the middle of Gion. I felt very grateful that I got to have a counter seat to watch this chef to his magic In sum, this meal was absolutely incredible. So grateful I had this opportunity. I am going to provide a play-by-play:
Beef consommé with truffle, uni , and caviar
At first glance, I thought this would be really gilding the lily, but this crazy melange of luxury ingredients really worked well, in particularly due to the quality of the cold beef gelee.
Tongue sashimi, with "beef "salt
No joke, probably the best slice of tongue I've ever had in my life. Cray smooth and tender. I'm pretty sure he said the salt was made with some sort of beef product. When I sampled it on his own, it had that distinct umami flavor from beef fat.
This was described as "low" meat from the "hip". Served with a variety of condiments. I just simply used the salt and wasabi provided. It was all it needed.
Ox tail soup with bamboo shoot, and wakame
A common theme throughout this trip is seeing how various chefs treat bamboo shoots. These were exceptionally tender, but the stand out was the broth. Clear, with that nice essence of marrow
Braised beef with bamboo shoot and sansho flowers
What does picture cannot express is the absolutely delightful aroma from the sansho flowers that emitted from these boiling hot pots. Beef was exceptionally tender. Would love to be served this any day I am sick in bed
Bean soup with namako
This might be the first dish we were served that didn't have any beef products in it. Or maybe it did and I just wasn't made aware. Fried sea cucumber was a nice foil to the super fresh veg in the dish.
Chef dipped these pink and well-marbled slices of beef and dipped them in the boiling broth himself, then serving them to the guests. What can I say: this was super delicious as well.
At the beginning of service, you are asked to select a price point that corresponds with the type of me you're going to get for your main dish. Chef recommended this one, which was the second most expensive option. Zero regrets. Back home, one of my favorite beef preparations is the wagyu supplement at Providence. Depending on which menu you choose, the add on price could be anywhere from $50-$100. In terms of value, I probably got about four times as much as I would back home. This was really ridiculous. I was kind of swooning with each bite. Another nice addition was a small tray of wild wasabi to enjoy the meat with. It's a cliché to say "melts in your mouth ", but there's not really a better cliché to employ here. Because that is exactly what it did.
Fillet, rice, soup, and pickles.
Everything on this dish was perfect, including the rice. And while we're at it, why not add some more beef to the mix.
Green tea sorbet
This was the culmination of the mail. I don't drink alcohol. I took a little bite, and my mouth sort of set ablaze. I asked if there was any alcohol content in the desert, and they said that whiskey was used in the preparation They apologized, but didn't really do anything. I have learned from various foreign travels that personal preferences/restrictions don't necessarily carry the same weight as they do in Los Angeles, where everyone seems to have a special diet. I was a little disappointed, but got right over it. However, there is hope on the horizon.
The other people sharing the counter with me were celebrating a birthday. They brought this beautiful strawberry cake along and offered me a slice. I don't need to tell you how delicious strawberries are in Japan right now. This little sliver of cake was all that I needed. And actually wound up being the perfect ending to the meal.
Actually the ending to the meal was walking up to Kiyomizu-Dera, which is being illuminated at night for Springtime. This marked my last night in Kyoto. I had a little trouble getting adjusted to the city at the beginning. But it yielded me some really spectacular cultural experiences, and some outstanding eats. Now, back to Tokyo for one last night.