Thursday, 24 September 2015

Japan Holiday Day 4 - Arashiyama and dinner at Kitcho

The boys were having their three star michelin restaurant at Kitcho Arashiyama today, so I thought it would be good to spend the day there so they could stay there and have their dinner.

I hadn't counted on it being 30 degrees though, or the public holiday crowds so the boys really needed to go back and have a shower before they headed out.

We had breakfast at a Ogawa coffee this morning, with coffees, milkshakes and western breakfasts for the kids, and then after that we headed out to Arashiyama.

The train was chockablock, and we tumbled out at Saga-Arashiyama station and walked to the bamboo grove.

I felt bad because our kids and families made it non-serene - they were noisy as hell!  At the end of the bamboo grove we went into Tenryuu-ji (which is World Heritage listed) and the shrine and gardens made for some beautiful pictures!

We went up to the Monkey Park which was a good 15-20 minute walk up some stairs. There were multiple warnings and etiquettes telling us how to interact with the macaques and be safe which included no staring, no throwing stones (well, duh) and no feeding them.  There was even a baby macaque, which was cute.

You could feed them through the holes from within this building though.
The best thing about being up the monkey park was the magnificent view of Kyoto city.  Guess I don't need to go to Kyoto tower for that view anymore!

We had lunch at an Udon place in Arashiyama (Ozuru?) and there was a bit of a queue, but the udon was well worth it.  We ordered the Yuba udon set, the mountain yam and egg udon, and a tempura udon.

Walking back to the station was hectic.  Crowds were huge and it was a damned hot day.

Whilst the boys enjoyed their meal, the girls and kids went to Level 11 above Isetan to the restaurant level to have teppanyaki. Clearly we had the inferior meal. It was more like okonomiyaki on hot plates than teppanyaki and my okonomiyaki didn't even have bonito shavings on top :(

The boys however had an extravagant meal at Kitcho Arashiyama Honten. Though the restaurant has several chains around Kyoto and Japan, this is the first Kyoto restaurant (1938). It's near the bottom of a hill overlooking Kyoto.  The first Kitcho was in Osaka, established in 1930 by Chef Kunio Tokuoka's grandfather. Tokuoko was the first chef ever awarded the national Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government in 1981, and in 1988 was the first chef to receive the Prize for Distinguished Cultural Merit.

The boys had a rather grand tatami room, a mirror image of this picture from the official website.

They chose the most exclusive menu (54000 yen) and with 3 bottles of sake that made for quite an expensive meal!

Blue crab with vinegar jelly and okra. The bowl is beautiful with the holes along the border.  A closeup of the bowl is below.

Pike eel and Mastutake mushroom broth
 Tai (tile fish or sea bream) sashimi with two types of soy sauce

Toro, lightly grilled Japanese whelk. For the whelk sashimi you put the ginger into dashi broth and dip it into the white sesame
Salmon roe with chrysanthemum flower. The bowl and the disk is supposed to resemble a chrysanthemum.
This is the main course in a really eye pleasing arrangement.  They left it out for you to admire for a bit before they served each person their individual helpings
Main course (clockwise from top on plate) - river fish, shrimp with moromi miso, ox tongue, sweet potato, tilefish sushi roll, yuba beancurd in melon cut dish. In the green dish was vinegar picle saury (a sardine like fish)
 Close ups of the dishes

Deep fried prawn head with pickled ginger. This was the rest of the prawn from the previous dish
Grilled tile fish with mastutake mushroom and gingko nut served with Japanese lime
Steamed seasonal vegetables- pumpkin, Manganii sweet pepper, shiitake mushroom and fried tofu
Matsutake rice served with Kyoto beef and seasonal vegetable (grilled eggplant with mustard sauce, pickle, kombu square cooked and sprinkled with bonito)
White rice came out in a rice pot like this and the rice is chosen in a special way. All the rice from different regions in Japan is blindtasted and the best one chosen. This rice was Koshihikari made in Niigata prefecture
Fresh fruit arrangement before individual servings done
Individually plated grape, fig, pear and melon

Mochi from moon festival with red bean paste and sugar coated walnuts
 Matcha and then green tea to cleanse and freshen the palate

My husband said that it was the service that made the meal truly outstanding.  If you look at the two Kyoto kaiseki, the dishes were similar (but since kaiseki is seasonally chosen, it makes sense that they were similar). The boys liked having two people waiting on them and wiping up every spill and crumb and explaining the meal to them. My husband was thrilled to finally have his matsutake mushroom and described the flavour as subtle and infused into the broth and food. They had 3 bottles of sake between them (we ladies had only one) but they were pleased to have had the experience.  I think Kitcho is a little pricey but since he is a landmark in kaiseki cuisine, I think that the name is worth at least one try!

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