Giro Giro Hitoshina, Kyoto

June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I would love to give you a full and detailed review of my meal at Giro Giro Hitoshina in Kyoto. Sadly a number of days have passed, and there was no written version of the menu we tasted. Our friendly and knowledgeable waiter came by throughout the course of the meal and gave us descriptions of each course, but unfortunately my memory is rather poor. I will, however, provide what I remember to the best of my abilities!

I believe this is sticky rice in broth (filled with something?) topped with a cherry leaf and rice puffs. While I don’t remember the exact components, I do remember that this started our meal on a high note.

Next was an assortment of appetizers. In the back: a small, pickled squid (strange and exceedingly acidic). There was also octopus, a slice of tamagoyaki, tofu, and a couple of other small components which I can no longer identify.

Next: sashimi!

Stewed pork belly (kakuni) in a rich, green (I think cabbage or pea) broth. I remember this dish well because it was probably my favorite (who can resist soft, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly?).

I believe this was a deep fried spring roll with three different sauces (two green, one red). The flavors were rich and well composed but one of the sauces was a little slimy.

Tempura with some type of jelly. I don’t remember exactly what the fish were (pretty sure they weren’t shishamo) but, following my adventures cooking wakasagi, I had a difficult time eating these. My dining companion, however, loved them.

Finally a trio of desserts (also my ochoko for sake). On the left: some type of stiff, jelly-like square with (I think!) a banana chip. In the middle: sweet lemon with some type of sauce (this was really good). On the right: matcha tiramisu (this was probably my favorite of the three).

While Giro Giro, like Kikunoi, can be classified as kaiseki, it’s a type of non-traditional, fusion kaiseki. And it’s wonderful. For innovative kaiseki on a budget, at around 3,600 yen, this is the place to go.


Kikunoi, Kyoto

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you have the opportunity (and the money) to have a real kaiseki meal in Kyoto, go to Kikunoi and you will have done well. The service, the decor, the food—it’s a given, everything here is impeccable. My dining companion and I had a private tatami room with a window facing a small waterfall, a gracious and informative attendant, and well, here‘s an explanation of what ryotei is. When you make the reservation for your meal, you will be asked to choose a price point (15,750 to 26,250 yen). The quality of ingredients will reflect the price you choose. We chose the second most expensive at 21,000 yen. Here follows an (almost) complete list of our impressive meal.

Tai (red sea bream) milt, sea cucumber roe, ponzu, lemon juice, spring orchid blossom. This creamy starter was probably my favorite dish that evening.

Our beautiful and impressive assortment of appetizers: tai (red sea bream) sushi with kinome (prickly ash leaf bud), grilled squid with nori seaweed and egg yolk; fava beans; salt-pickled “firefly” squid; mountain yam “butterfly”; poached egg-bearing octopus; yurine (lily bulb) petal with salmon roe; udo stalk petals; skewer of prawn, avocado, and tai lever pate.

Sashimi of tai, sashimi of giant prawn, ponzu jelly, wasabi, suizenji seaweed jelly, curled udo stalk and carrot, shiso leaf, mixed sprouts.

Sashimi of young maguro (bluefin tuna), mustard, soy-marinated egg yolk sauce.

Steamed Wakasa tilefish, sticky rice, bamboo shoot, cherry leaf, warabi fern heads, toasted rice crackers, ginger juice.

Ocean trout low-temperature poached, crisped trout skin, grated radish with kinome and Seville orange juice.

Grilled bamboo shoot (harvested that morning), kinome miso sauce, mustard-vinegar soy sauce.

Salad of octopus, udo stalk, fuki, urui (wild onion), kinome herb vinegar jelly. This was my least favorite dish—it was too acidic.

Strawberry-wasabi sorbet.

Hotpot of abalone, bamboo shoot, wakame seaweed, rapini, kinome herb.

Bamboo shoot rice, tai, sesame paste, kinome herb, wasabi, sesame seeds, toasted rice crackers, green tea broth; pickled chopped eggplant, salt-pickled rapini, pickled daikon radish.

Pistachio ice cream, mango soup, chopped pistachio. Even my non-sweet-inclined dining companion was blown away by this dessert.

And finally warabi mochi and matcha to finish.

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