I had the pleasure of eating at Kikunoi Restaurant and meeting the head chef for the first time. My mother kept telling me that I'm too young to eat at such a place, but I think I enjoyed and appreciated the food just fine. LOL Kikunoi Restaurant is one of the 3 ryotei that represents Kyoto's kaiseki cuisine. If you're ever in Kyoto, you really must go.
Left to right : Chef Lee Ann Wong, Saori Kawano and Rui (my childhood friend and web manager of Korin)
Apparently chef Lee Ann Wong has been to Kikunoi several times and even if there is a language barrier, they have an English course description for foreigners. Because chef Lee Ann is a chef, the head chef always brings out his cook book to show her what shes eating.
"Kikunoi is located on extensive grounds at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain Range in Kyoto.
Legend has it that water from a local well called “Kikusui-no-i” was used by the first wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (a key figure in Japan’s feudal era) to make tea, causing spring water to burst forth in the pattern of a chrysanthemum (“kiku” in Japanese) in full bloom. The locals took care of this well for many generations, and eventually began to use its water in cooking. This was the origin of the name Kikunoi – literally meaning “chrysanthemum well.” The restaurant itself was established in 1912 and is currently headed by the third-generation owner-chef Yoshihiro Murata. Chef Murata states that “a ryotei is like an amusement park for adults”: in other words, “it offers guests something out of the ordinary.” Murata welcomes guests to Kikunoi on a daily basis in the hope that they experience the changing seasons through his cuisine and also enjoy taking some time out of their everyday lives." - From Kikunoi's website
In case you've ever seen this book:
Kaiseki- The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant
It's written by the head chef/owner of Kikunoi. If you haven't read it and you can't tell... Its a ridiculously gorgeous cook book and even that is an understatement. One of the prettiest I have ever seen. It was designed by chef Murata's daughter.
We got to sit at the counter and watch chef Murata and his team cook. They cook and store a lot of in the different room but some dishes were prepared here. Chef Murata brought out the kaiseki book and turned to the pages of each of the dishes. It really was an amazing experience.
You know when you're flipping through a cook book wishing you can eat the things you see... Yes... Dreams do come true.
A serving of sake. It was so smooth and delicious.
Vinegared firefly squid and wild vegetables
Tofu dengaku (broiled tofu with miso paste)
Strawberry yuzu sorbet in between to clean our pallet. I wanted more...
We asked what the big bamboo shoot pottery in the back was... low and behold it was filled with bamboo leaves.
Sakura masu ibushi-yaki (Smoked cherry salmon)
Madai (red sea bream)
Wakasa guji sakura-mushi (Steamed wakasa tillefish with cherry blossoms)
Madai fish from the picture above
Uzuki no hassun (April hassun)
- Sea bream and kinome sushi
- Petal shaped udo
- Dumplings for cherry blossom viewing
- Lily bulb petals
- Small octopus
- Broad beans
- Broiled squid
- Butterfly Chinese yams
Tai shirako saka-mushi (sake steamed sea bream milt)
Takenoko gohan [bamboo shoot rice] because it was in season.
Duck shabu shabu
Dessert : cold red bean soup with shiratama [mochi balls] and ice cream.
Thanks for reading!!
Still more to come!