Photo essay: Autumnal beauty and poetry of Kyoto

The autumnal beauty of Kyoto stirs the inner naturalist in any one of us. It is poetic and by far my favourite season to be in the former imperial capital of Japan, where the manmade meets its organic setting in a rising awe. My awareness of nature’s changing patterns increases in the fall. In winter one may be nostalgic for the sun’s rays, yet fall sparks with a renewal, hope.

In Kyoto, the no-mind zen meets artisanship of the shokunins and the manicured perfectionism reflected in the Japanese gardens. Wabi-sabi, seeing the beauty in imperfection is deeply imprinted in the Japanese aesthetic psyche, and the temple gardens as well as the widely admired crooked trees mirror this sensibility. Beyond the treasures of coloured fall poetry of Kyoto, the city is surrounded by wild lush hills. Particularly in the North, away from the tourist crowds, the leaf show unleashes a fine display late each November and early in December.

Ginkgo tree

I have been visiting the UNESCO heritage beauty for years. In summer − too hot, in winter too damp and grey sad, while spring brings an abundance of sensai (wild mountain vegetables) to the plates in the local kaiseki restaurants, plus all nature blooms. Still, Kyoto is not the ideal spot for the cherry blossom watching. Tokyo and other regions are known to be better for the golden gingko (hence its nickname the Gingko City) and the pink-white ruffles of cherry petals. Fall sparks a rainbow of natural hues on the entire island country, but the ancient capital offers more of a blend of history and nature worth a special trip.

Kyoto PalaceKyoto leaves

The sprawling city is easy to navigate on foot, by bicycle, bus, subway, train or car. The trains are particularly helpful in reaching the leafy suburbs. Beyond the buddhist and shinto temples gardens, the Imperial Palace and the Northern wilderness, the UNESCO heritage Arashiyama forest in the Northwest unleashes the poetry of Kyoto and casts an unforgettable photographic show. The crowds flood in thousands everyday right after the sunrise. The earlier you arrive the better, so you can savour the magic in tranquility. Ideally, stay in the area so can flop off your hotel before the sunrise and beat the ravenous visitors as we did.

Inspired by the poetry of Kyoto, I composed

One sees more with the magnifier of awareness

 

Such beauty accessible to all

Heightens the awareness

Elevates the mundane to celestial awe —

— the leaf turning crimson, painted gold, marvellous!

 

Change, ageing, all that we call fall

The cycle is hope

The wind’s fan rains the leaves down

I see magic, the metasensual

In this ephemeral experience of my own

 

The rested mind floats into the whole —

— zen nothingness captures happiness

Offering hand to the lost or lonely

Understand, and be one within all.

Practical tips for visiting Kyoto during the autumn leaves season

Climate change has been pushing the locally celebrated autumnal leaves changing season later into the year as warm weather signals to the trees to wait a bit longer before shedding their annual weight. Read more about the mysterious behaviour of trees in my review of Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Life of Trees.

Since this is the high tourist season in Kyoto, you need to be savvy about which sights in which part of the day or night you visit.

The smaller or off-centre temples with marvellous gardens that have been so far to a great extend shielded from the human influx are Anraku-ji, Reikan-ji, Myokaku-ji and the Rinkyun-ji. A very limited access to the must ahead book Shugaku-in Imperial Villa also guarantees a less crowded experience. Avoid the Ruriko-in near the sacred Mount Hiei, Nanzen-ji and the surrounding temples on the eastern hillsides of Central Kyoto. The gated Kyoto Imperial Palace park is accessible from early morning so beat the ticket holders visiting the buildings by arriving before the palace opening.

Kyoto leaves

The garden view at Myokaku-ji

The trickiest side of the trip is to snap rooms well ahead and to be lucky to strike the heart of the leaves bright display. Hotels and ryokans are the most expensive in this period, the cancellation periods strict and inflexible (typically Japanese), so you can only pray. In particular the Hoshinoya Kyoto ryokan can be heroic to book. After years of trying, we took the rare opportunity to stay for a night in this historic property located at the leafy bank of the Hozu river in the heart of the Arashiyama valley.

Hoshinoya KyotoJapanese tea

Further, I was lucky enough to visit Kyoto multiple times during the fall season as it coincides with my annual Asia trip. At times, it was damp, grey and the leaves past their peak, looking as if they were caught in the open without an umbrella, their trunks and branches soaked by rain with the leaves withering on the floor. Luckily, the endless supply of temples, museums and very long kaiseki meals saved the trip. This fall, was blessed with scheduling the best week, so if you won’t make it, console yourself with my poem and the photo essay above. The poetry of Kyoto is in its pure existence.


Kichisen: refreshing the taste and style of traditional Kyoto-style kaiseki

My photo below tells it all: the focused gaze of the Kichisen’s master chef Yoshimi Tanigawa shows how much focus goes into his food and how much he cares to ennoble each customer’s delight from it. Tanigawa’s studies of traditional Japanese cultural arts such as tea ceremony, flower arrangement (ikebana), incense ceremony, calligraphy and poetry (beyond Bashō) widened his perspective on Japanese traditional gastronomy as he incorporates these cultural elements at Kichisen in Kyoto.
The chef focusing on his guest's impressions

Kaiseki highlights nature: keeping it grounded at Kichisen

The skilled chef participated in 1999 in a TV program ‘Ryori-no-tetsujin‘ (Iron Chef) defeating another Japanese master chef Masaharu Morimoto (now based in New York), yet his culinary star has not shone over his focus on his multi-Michelin star restaurant.

Kyoto kaiseki art seasonal kaiseki Japanese traditional food
At Kichisen Japanese kaiseki is served in a multi-course procession of seasonal delights. This traditional Kyoto cuisine is a mix of imperial court cuisine (yūsoku-ryōri), samurai cuisine (honzen-ryōri), Buddhist temple cuisine (shōjin-ryōri), and tea ceremony cuisine (cha-kaiseki). Kaiseki was originally a set of small dishes served during the tea ceremony that was perfected in Kyoto by buddhist monks centuries ago.
Amouse bouche
It is quiet, almost monastic inside every room in the house. After a warm welcome you will be ushered in. Take off your shoes and slide into the offered slippers. Wear your socks if possible. You might sit down in small, with tatami mats covered room, in a larger Western high table room or alongside a wooden counter in the Kai-no-ma room. A special room for the tea ceremony (Suisho-an) has to be specifically booked ahead. Located in the vicinity of Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, a UNESCO site, and the millennia-old forest of Tadasu-no-mori enriches the natural traditional ambiance as you venture in and out.
The signature runny egg a la Kichisen
Kaiseki is an art form rather than just a simple meal to sate one’s appetite. Each course is unique in taste but also in presentation including the utensils. As is characteristic of Kyoto cuisine, seasonal ingredients stay in the forefront. Reverence of tradition, triumph of ingredients while striving for new forms of presentation set apart Kichisen’s spirit of ‘discovering new things by studying the past’.

Michelin KyotoJapanese wagashi

Nature unveils itself in front of you in the “sakizuke,” which serves as an appetiser before the meal. Seafood, pickled vegetables and mushrooms were laid out like a foraging bonanza in a straw basket decorated by colourful local autumn leafs.

fatty tunaSashimi course in kaiseki

Following clear soup called “o-wan” prepared our bellies for the protein fellows of the kaiseki procession. “Mukōzuke” a sashimi (raw fish) often changes daily according to best possible quality available and served with a wide variety of seasonal condiments. Served under a straw cage decorated with the autumnal palette of the washed leafs picked in the surrounding garden, natural beauty was brought to our lips. O-toro fatty tuna was served simply over nigiri rice with freshly grated wasabi and pickled daikon.
"Nemo" served at Kichisen
The soggy material in a gold-painted bowl may look weird, but this is one of the chef’s signature dishes – the runny (onsen-style) egg à la Kichisen. Sprinkled with diced seaweed, an airy foam and a morsel of freshly grated wasabi. Its particular gooey texture can be challenging.
Nakazara” (middle dish) was more simple but also simply delicious as the whole ‘nemo’ steamed fish stared at me from the plate. The white meat was infused with fragrant japanese condiments and softly dissolved in my mouth with a sip of saké.

kaiseki
Art on the plate
More art on the plate came in “hassun,” a mixed platter of tastes from both the mountains and the sea. The November sea catch of boiled crab legs was enveloped in a thin wooden wrap, while the mushrooms from the mountains were hiding inside the beautifully painted ceramic house. I bet that children would enjoy eating anything served in this fairy manner.
Pineapple, fish and mushroom tempura delight at Kichisen
A “nimono” (boiled) soup-like dish arrived with radish and wasabi topping, followed by a “yakimono” (grilled) dish, which was my absolute favourite. I am biased to anything pineapple so I need to confess here though. The grilled thin slice of pineapple was rather in the background though, underlining the delicate sweetness of the fish and balancing the oily nature of the mushroom tempura.

gohan in kaiseki Japanese ceramicskaiseki courses

Then came gohan, a rice dish. A giant claypot of steamed rice arrived with two beautiful bowls to be filled. Autumn mushrooms, egg and condiments accompanied the first serving of gohan. After came a more complex pairing of the rice with gingko nuts and seafood.
Chilled apple with sorbet
The palate cleanser ( “kuchi-naoshi”) in the form of chilled pumpkin soup was refreshing. Later we were presented the suite of deserts. Announced by an exquisite devil-red iced apple with its sorbet mashed inside and refreshing chilled tomatoes so light and crisp like an autumn breeze in the gardens of Kyoto. This is a signature palate cleanser at Kichisen, sometimes served on ice snow together with other sweets. Next miniature delicate sweets balanced by powdered green tea (matcha whisked skillfully by the chef) to help with digestion. Balance achieved! Seasonal fruit delights and Japanese greenhouse strawberries can also brighten the finale.

Kichisen

Japanese lacquerDessert and matcha tea at Kichisen
Drinks: The wine list is concise yet impressive with the giants of Lafite, La Tour, Petrus and Mouton Rothschild figuring on its pages next to the Domaine de la Romaine Conti’s Montrachet. All hideously expensive, so going for a bottle of saké is not only justifiable but advisable if you do not know what to do with your yens. We love the chef’s suggestions. Served in small carafe so you can taste more or in a bottle, like the superb sake we had on our second visit.
The pure and delicious sake is wonderfully presented in a crystal jar served on a mountain of soft ice to keep it cold. It works just perfectly with the kaiseki style of Kyoto food at Kichisen.
Bottle of sake at Kichisen
Glass of sakeJapanese sake

It’s been a treat to our senses, a creative discovery of Japanese ceramics and glass work, as well as always a perfectly balanced meal for our dinners at Kichisen. Surely, this is one of the rare Kyoto restaurants where tradition meets contemporary sensibility.

Visits: November 2o13 & 2019 (this article was updated after the fall 2019 meal)
Price: Very high (superb ingredients, mastery of cooking and private atmosphere). Lunch starts at ¥8,000, dinner at ¥14,000.

Opening hours: Lunch: 12:00-2p; Dinner: 5-9pm
Address: 5 Tadasu-no-mori (Morimoto-cho), Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.
Contact: + 81 075 711 6121


Nishikawa kaiseki Kyoto: sharing culinary tradition with an artist and host

On the same axis of the Kodai-ji Temple Nishikawa calibrates the balance of traditional ryotei cuisine with a casual and social ballast to the iconic, yet serious three Michelin star Kikunoi kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto. The pentagonal philosophy of traditional Japanese cuisine is adhered to with an unpretentious wink of the chef Masayoshi Nishikawa, who merrily engages in conversations, and above all, during the intimate encounter, he serves his selected sake and locally sourced food with a genuine happiness imprinted on his still youthful face. His – we-are-equals approach reminds of the Tokyo-based three Michelin kaiseki chef Kanda. The sense of humour did not evaporate from the kitchen, just look carefully at the photo bellow. 
kaiseki restaurant in KyotoNishikawa Kyoto
Entering the privacy of the ryotei through wooden sliding door, snaking along a narrow path, appreciate the minuscule Japanese garden. Then, perhaps wash your hands in the stone basin and contemplate the flower arrangements and art scrolls (a big bellied, bold-headed man with long ear lobes – must be sated, wise and long-living, I thought) while switching your shoes for the provided slippers in the waiting lounge. Clean and neat, your hostess Okami ushers you to your seat.
There are private rooms at Nishikawa, but since the chef-owner Nishikawa-san is very friendly and can speak some English, the more casual counter is best for the first-timers and foreign foodies. The low seats with hand rests provide enough comfort for the long meal. Here also, the counter dining is an open affair. An eye to eye contact with the chef directing his apprentices operating the grill assures delicious, not austere like at Hyotei, another Kyoto kaiseki, nor too contemporary Kichisen‘s style of food.
Nishikawa KyotoJapanese garden
Japanese scroll paintingJapanese sake
Behind the counter, chef’s single-edged knives (to glide through sashimi smoothly) proudly nest on a rack bellow two shelves displaying handmade Japanese pottery. The chef’s special sake, like a rare liquor gem pulls your curious eyes in to its container, an engraved crystal carafe with a sapphire blue bringing out an engraved snow flake. From the very broad selection of sake, this was my favourite, balanced and round, like the chef’s palate. First though, we were welcomed by a generous pouring of a yuzu sake stirring our taste buds in a fresh direction.
restaurant Kyoto
The most gustatory vibrant time to eat at Nishikawa is spring, when the crisp young bamboo shoots and sensai wild mountain vegetables such as fiddleheads and the slightly tingly kinome (young sansho pepper leaf) or kinako are used. Different colours, flavours, shapes, temperatures and textures are presented in a preset order of the kaiseki form. The Michelin Guide, awarding him two stars, says: Each dish is made memorable with playfulness and stimulates all five senses”, but there is more to Nishikawa’s cuisine than overthought culinary concepts, we tasted a locally curious soul in his delectable tasting menu.

Starting with a refreshing crab covered by a creamy and sweet saikyo miso sauce, green stem vegetables and leek-like white vegetables, to pair with the yuzu sake. Then moving springly to a katsuoboshi (dried bonito flakes) broth with bamboo, sesame tofu, broccoli and tingly unopened wild buds of kinako served in an amber hued lacquer bowl, known as suimono, a clear broth, tuning our palates to the current season. A third course was mackerel sabazushi with spicy wasabi stems and pickled ginger. The marinated mackerel in its glittering fine scaled coat enveloped its sticky rice base tightly, so your fingers confidently flip the morsel into the mouth. A whiff of vinegar, the bite of the silver blue fish, like a waterfall flowing into a calm lake eases your palate in its mellowing stream of rice.

Followed an assortment of spring sashimi. White-fleshed fish is preferred in Kyoto cuisine, in April the sea bream is called after cherry blossom season sakura dai. A chewy red sea bream (madai) with umeboshi (sour Japanese apricots pickled in salt) vinegar and a duo of green bracken fern (warabi) shoots, a lobster with its intense sauce, and for the final bite escalating to a buttery rich Hokkaido uni. A comforting warm course was on call. The bowl of boiled, crunchy white asparagus shaved over with bottarga (dried and aged fish roe that Nishikawa-san adores) was superb. On the bottarga note a crystal-clear plate of Kekkon clam next to a wasabi topped rich clam liver of a fresh prawn texture and oyster taste looked unappealing but was delectable.

Grilled, yakimono fish course was reassuring the anago fans that Nishikawa shares his craft diligently with his cooks. The perfectly grilled sweet lake eel was served with an oily profiled nodoguro fish and Kyoto scallion (negi). An adorable, glazed earthen cup of hamaguri covered with a lid unveiled a boiled clam with green vegetables simmered in a broth (nimono). The clam felt like an oyster but less briny and more firm. Now, a plate for the adventurous – a fresh, crunchy and firm ark shell (akagai) with boiled octopus in mustard miso sauce and soramame broad beans with green pea zest – was great, worth the sea escapade. Great Japanese chefs know that akagai is at its best if eaten within minutes after removal from its shell, and so it was.

An awe on the plate continued. As if frozen in their death screams, two open-mouthed charcoal grilled ayu swam into our mouths. This freshwater fish is essentially eaten fresh. The crispy skin of the ayu had a firm bite. A bitter taste from the entrails calls for salt so the sweetness comes out on the palate, not for everyone though. A sea cucumber roe laid over the mini fishes was so intense, like uni, but more like a stinky cheese, required guts, yours, to swallow it with joy.

Welcoming then was a thick broth simmering in a smooth Honshu abalone with spring vegetables, herbs, a white fish tempura (agemono) that was just amazing! Multi-course meal is a blessing, sometimes.

Now a smooth, roasted houjicha tea was served with a gohan. Assorted on a tray (oshiki) of beef sukiyaki with raw egg yolk and daikon, Japanese cucumber and ume sunomono (vinegared), a miso soup with tofu and sticky rice that you mix with soy sauce and the egg – lusciously decadent, superb! The assistant inquires if you need more rice, reaching deep into his donabe pot of the steamy hot gohan. Sated, you must feel.

Still, light deserts end the kaiseki on a sweet note. Roasted and starchy warabi powder dusted a gooey mochi completing the spring tasting before a refreshing fanfare: Kyoto strawberries with sorbet and jelly served in a stunning crystal glass.

To drink, a beer, sake, green tea, water, but no wine, since that is not local. For sake, you pick a glass of your liking from the kimono-clad Okami. A rainbow of bottle labels stopped over at our seats, a veritable sake tasting requiring a considerable bravado to toast through with a clear mind. A Junmai Ginjo Karakara Beppin by Tojo Yamada Nishiki, a premium sake brewery since 1636, and a suite of other memory-fogging names followed. My husband did it all, I sniffed and sipped with a feminine restraint. The roasted green houjicha, sencha and at the finale of the savoury kaiseki tasting, served before the desserts, the Kyoto staple of perfectly smooth matcha tea is whisked, with an assistance of his apprentice, by the chef himself.

Away from Kyoto, the engaging chef Masayoshi Nishikawa leads occasional cooking classes and demos at the Tokyo Peninsula.

Still, traveling to the ancient imperial capital rewards with an authentic experience. Unlike at most kaiseki restaurants and despite its location in the gaijin dominated Gion, mostly the Japanese, not many tourists dine at Nishikawa.

Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday 12noon (L.O.); Dinner: 6-8pm (L.O.)

Closed Sundays except before a Public Holiday and Public Holiday Mondays.

Price: Lunch menu: ¥5,400-21,600; Dinner: ¥16,200-32,400 Service charge 10%

473 Shimokawaracho, Shimokawara-dori Yasakatoriimae-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

+81 (0)75 525 1776


Kikunoi: the most revered kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto

Kikunoi is perhaps the most influential kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto. The cuisine is traditional with a pinch of avant-garde as conducted by its third generation owner/chef Yoshihiro Murata. Inspiring three Michelin-stared and highly aspiring Japanese chefs, Kinukoi is a reference to perfection directed by nature and skills.
Autumnal changing of leafs' colours in Japan
As buses packed with Japanese and foreign tourists flock to this former emperor’s capital to admire the magic of the autumnal changing of the leafs’ colours, the kaiseki chefs shift their tasting menus to display the bounty of the fall produce. Kaiseki has been always directed by seasonality. November, in the old Japanese called Shimotsuki, is the starting season for the leggy snow crabs, sweet citrusy yuzu, cooked chestnuts, but also the tender orange persimmon fruit.
Sakizuke of Yuzu tofu
Yuzu, the widely used Japanese fragrant citrus, is the most aromatic when in season in Japan (late November & December), and the chef at Kikuoi decided to show it off in a number of dishes. Such as in the Sakizuke, a simple starter welcoming the guest, of Yuzu tofu, yuzu miso sauce and diced yuzu. This was a fragrant reminder of how in the West we get just a dainty reflection of this impactful Japanese lemon. Spooning out the creamy tofu from a hollow yuzu peal, I wished there was more of it, but as the evening progressed, I was constantly being assured, that every single dish was a work of art pleasing my taste buds.
Hassun: assortment of seasonal appetisers
Hassun, an assortment of appetizers, sets the seasonal theme of every kaiseki dinner. After a sip of sweet sake served in a shallow lid-shaped cup we nibbled on Yuzu sansho cup with monkfish liver and mucous shimeji mushrooms, squid smeared with sea urchin roe, pungent cured mullet roe, miso-flavored duck liver terrine with brandied raisins, chestnut crackers, ginkgo nuts and green tea noodle fans shapes as pine needles. Wrapped in a pure white paper, tied up with red and white strings, the hassun recalled the typical rice dumplings eaten in November to celebrate the Kyoto’s Gencho festival.
Mukozuke: seasonal sashimi at Kinkunoi
We were treated twice to the course of Mukozuke, which is a seasonal sashimi. First came a hand-painted plate in colours mirroring the meal of fresh Tai sashimi (red sea bream) and red & white striped prawn. The later was crunchy on the outside, smooth and delicate on the inside given to the chef’s quick immersion of the gently cooked prawn in an ice water. Accompanied by freshly grated kicking green wasabi and yellow moist chrysanthemum flowers, this was a highly creative and exquisite dish any sushi master would bow to.
Sashimi of koshibi with soy-marinated egg yolk sauce
Since kaiseki also reflects the Japanese custom to nosh on a little of food, rather than devouring a large pot of stew or an entire animal, each dish is just big enough to convey the flavours, but not to fill you up. Your belly will be gradually sated by the addition of the multiple courses yet to come. Our next mukozuke was a simple sashimi dish of koshibi, a young bluefin tuna, served with a dollop of spicy mustard and a side dip of soy and raw egg yolk sauce. An adventurous preparation, but the meaty flash of the fish added a creamy rich texture as in sukiyaki.
Takiawase of Red tilefish
The courses started to heat up with by a lid covered Takiawase of Wakasa tilefish steamed with starchy chestnuts, millet (grain once eaten often in Japan), baby daikon radish, kintoki carrot, shiitake mushrooms, yuzu peel, in a thick green chrysanthemum sauce. Clean yet full of flavours this softly textured soupy dish was harmonious and soothing.
Yuzu-wasabi sorbet
At this point there was a need for a palate refresher. The Yuzu-wasabi sorbet was a mastery of simplicity backed by scientific understanding of our taste buds. First the mellow sweetness of the yuzu calms the palate, and it is only later when kicks in the pungent spicy wasabi, cleaning out any remaining taste memories from the previous dishes. Now, you are ready for the next courses.
Yakimono: Barracuda grilled in cedar and duck breast
Visual appeal of a kaiseki meal is as important as its taste and quality, so the chef selects accordingly the serving dishes and constructs a theme typically evoking nature and how the ingredients integrate in it. Concealed under the golden vibrance of ginkgo and the fire-red hues of the local five-fingered maple leafs was an almost invisible Barracuda fish grilled and wrapped in cedar, nesting next to it were tiny slices of medium-rare duck breast grilled with sansho pepper, and aside candied walnuts in a small bowl to add sweetness if needed. This Yakimono, or grilled dish, clearly stated that fall had arrived.
Raw snow crab
Snow crab (matsuba-gani) is highly praised in Japan, with its season starting in November, the chef served this long-legged king of crabs boiled with its shells neatly cracked so its delicate flash could be easily pealed out with an assorted bamboo stick. The chef Murata sources this crab from Tottori Prefecture on Honshu, known for the best snow crabs in Japan. Its juicy and sweet meat is best eaten with a simple sauce such as the yuzu juice pictured above.
Shark's fin & turtle hot pot
Surely the most challenging dish for a westerner was the Shark’s fin & turtle hot pot at Kikunoi. My first encounter with turtle meat was not a love at first sight, but the crunchy, almost squid-like texture of the shark’s fin was interesting in its purity. My husband noted though that he enjoys is much better with a richer sauce or spices as in Chinese cooking. I chewed through this Futamono, a lidded substantial dish,  but welcomed the next and final savoury course – the Gohan – steamed rice topped with popping salmon eggs. Served with a side of Japanese pickles (Ko no mono) and a bowl of intense white miso soup (Tome-wan), this was the filler for these, who still needed more food. We could have as much rice as we wanted as our kimono-clad server happily announced.
Gohan: steamed rice with salmon roe
Recently, kaiseki has become more exported from Japan as its bold chefs, encouraged by popularity of Japanese cuisine once dominated only by sushi, venture to Paris and elsewhere to show this elaborate Japanese culinary art to the world. Some, like Guilo-Guilo in Paris switch to a more casual tone, while others, such as the well-known chef Okuda present kaiseki in its highly refined form. Kikunoi’s Daishiro persimmon splashed with brandy would be one of the possible dishes on their autumn menus in Paris, since the French also grow their own persimmon, known there as ‘kaki’, and it is as juicy when ripe as is in Japan. The Mizumono dessert of Sweet bean paste served to accompany our bowl of powdered green matcha tea at Kikunoi could also keep high standard of freshness when served there.
Sasonal fruit: Daishiro persimmon splashed with brandy
Unfortunately, these chefs abroad have to compete with the following enemies: local availability of their familiar ingredients; their knowledge of non-Japanese alternatives; presenting the potentially austere character of their traditionally Japanese degustation menu to the less-adventurous local customers. My dinner at Okuda in Paris was discouraging in the chef’s ability to transport this emblematic Kyoto-style cuisine far from his native country. Unless, someone adjusts kaiseki to the local climate, I will rather fly to Japan in order to enjoy this artful meal at its best.
Sweet bean paste to accompany match tea
Whether you like to nibble on little delicious creations, love seasonal cooking or are curious about Japanese culture of food that evolved from the traditional tea ceremony (chanoyu), dining in one of the 11 private tatami rooms, with comfortably heated floors ( practical when you have to take your shoes off), gazing out into a traditional Japanese garden and your personal kimono-clad waitress bowing constantly while serving food and superb for Kikunoi exclusive sake, make for an unforgettable experience.
Serving Gohan at Kikunoi in Kyoto
While adhering to the principles of the traditional Kyoto-style kaiseki (kyo-kaiseki), Murata is not holding his cuisine from evolving and growth, so most of his dishes are customised to our modern tastes.
You can READ MORE about KAISEKI in my article about another three Michelin stared establishment in Kyoto – Kichisen.
Address: 459 Shimokawara-cho, Yasaka Toriimae-sagaru. Shimokawara-dori, HIgashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan.
Contact: +(81) 075 561 0015
Opening hours: Lunch 12noon-2pm; Dinner starts at 5pm, last searing at 8pm.


Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google