Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kyoto (2010): Nakamura-Ro Kaiseki

This is the continuation of our trip in Japan (ancient post, I apologize for not posting this sooner for those that asked about Kyoto/Osaka ; _ ; ). We went to Kyoto after Tokyo by Shinkansen. This time we took the fastest Shinkansen - Nozomi - and it took us just a little over 2 hours to get there (waaaay faster than the Kodomo Shinkansen we took to see Fuji-san and thankfully no delay due to earthquake that time).

Right after we arrived, we set off to our lunch place - Nakamura-Ro, which started as a teahouse and is now said to be one of the the oldest restaurant (more than 400 years). The restaurant is basically inside Yasaka-jinja's ground (one of the must-see places in Kyoto).

The view from our seats.

The season's menu.
We wanted to try two different set of kaiseki - a bigger one (¥ 8,100, if I am not mistaken) and a smaller one (¥ 6,100). Unfortunately, we were told that we can only order the same set so that they can serve it at the same time (or something like that). In the end, we settled for the middle one (¥ 7,100) - which was apparently what most of the customers ordered.

First up, Hiyashi-bachi (served only in summer, literally means chilled bowl).

-Grill tomato, okra, lotus root in tosa soy sauce
A mouthful of flavor - sweet, sour, tart, and bland. Not to mention different textures too - soft, gooey, and crunchy. Definitely a wonderful dish to start off with.
Even now, I can still remember the flavor and texture...mmm....I can almost taste it....

Next, Sakizuke (bite-sized appetizer).
- Paper-thin egg rolled with snapper dipped vinegar
- Japanese sweet potato
- Shredded potato and sliced salmon
The egg with snapper is absolutely amazing.

The chef preparing the fishes for the next dish. He worked so carefully yet swift.

- Two types of fish; boiled and raw

You'll know that the ingredients are all fresh when you taste it.

Suimono (soup to cleanse the palate).

- Flathead fish, Minazuki tofu, melon cucumber, carrot, bean, and shinobi ume

Minazuki is Kyoto's speciality eaten only in June. It is usually served as wagashi (sweet) with red beans but in this case, they are made plain and served as savory dish.
During the Edo period, when the royals ate red beans on shaved ice in the summer, the commoners ate Minazuki - their equivalent for the royal treat.

Minazuki is usually made of rice flour - their white appearance symbolizes snow. Whereas the triangular shape represent ice.

Ahem..anyway back to the dish. The dish is unquestionably delicious!!! Sis and I really enjoyed it. The flavor is subtle yet pleasant. The Minazuki tofu is soft and smooth. The flathead is fresh and sweet.
Takiawase (vegetables served with fish, meat, or tofu).

- Deep-fried tofu stuffed with anago (conger eel), broad bean, carrot, and kombu (kelp) slices. Green vegetables and yuzu peel

If we have to choose one, this will be our favorite dish. We just looooveeee everything about it. The ingredients, the flavor - divine! (We're suckers for hirousu, the stuffed deep-fried tofu)

Meibutsu (specialty).

As the name suggested, this is what the restaurant is famous for - dengaku tofu.

- Grilled tofu coated with miso

Not long after we placed our order, we noticed that the chef's assistant had started working on the grill. It was this dengaku tofu he was meticulously preparing - grilling it over the charcoal fire and applying layers of miso repeatedly.
The handmade tofu is soft and smooth and I am pretty sure that the miso is not the usual type of miso (shiro/aka) - doesn't taste like it o.O. Probably a different combination of ingredients its made of.

Yakimono (grilled food - usually seasonal fish).

- Grilled sea bass with knotweed vinegar

I can't stress enough how fresh the ingredients served. The fish even tasted sweet and the glaze was flavorful.

Agemono (deep-fried food).

- Deep fried Kamo eggplant and green chili in dashi, with grated daikon and  myouga (Japanese ginger)

Gohan (rice dish served with seasonal ingredients)

- Mame (beans) rice

Kou no mono (seasonal pickled vegetables)

And lastly, Mizumono (seasonal dessert).

- Coffee ice-cream with melon and raspberry

That was one satisfying meal. If you are visiting Kyoto and want to experience Kyoto's kaiseki, do try out Nakamura-Ro. The people and environment are great, the food are absolutely delicious, and the price are more reasonable compared to other famous kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto (just my opinion though).

2 huggies:

Cart Ridge said...

What a neat post! Looking forward for more post from you. Thank you for sharing!

Zoe said...

Japan was our initial holiday destination but unfortunately the earthquake has changed our mind. Now seeing all your photos, I'm thinking about going to Japan maybe next year...