The Park Slope Gastronome

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Asia Report #12 - Kaiseki in Kyoto

We bid goodbye to Osaka and headed to Kyoto for a night's stay at the Gion Fukuzumi ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. I was mainly interested in the kaiseki dining that is associated with these inns. I have to say Kyoto was a bit of a let down after the hustle and bustle of Osaka. Not the town for me. But our room was comfortable, the staff friendly, and the meal a lovely culinary journey. I'm sorry I can't be more specific on what we ate; there were a lot of new tastes.

The blue dish on the left held some sort of pressed rice cake, with a piece of sea urchin, a dab of wasabi and some nori on top. The other dish contained a sweet shrimp, a dumpling, some edamame, marinated greens and a whelk! More on the whelk later.

The tan bowl contained deliciously light somen noodles with a shitake and shrimp garnish. Next to it was some sashimi - there was amaebi (sweet shrimp, which I wasn't too keen on) and I think mackerel and sea bream. Yes, I know, I am an embarassment to the Hong name. Behind that you'll see a pan fried flat fish.

Dan offers up the ubiquitous V for victory/peace sign. That white bowl in the foreground contained a couple pieces of sweet eel and delicate young bamboo shoots, which I was really into.

Contemplating the whelk. This was the only thing I refused to eat. I felt it was part of the experience to at least try everything, which I did, save for the whelk. It's a snail for crissake's and I was not going to do it. After much consideration, Dan decided he didn't have it in him either.

Fish in many forms for breakfast the next morning. Clockwise from top left: a fishcake with shrimp wrapped in yuba, in a light broth; tournade of some sort of root vegetable with fishcakes; fishcakes make to look like strands of spaghetti; tamago; some sort of flatfish; more fishcake made to look like pressed sushi, served with a sweet black paste.

Steaming hot miso with tiny little clams to start your day off. Loved the individual chafing dishes. Liked this miso a whole lot more than the miso served with dinner, which contained mushrooms that had a okra-like gooey-ness to them.

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