Kyoto – Kichisen


This should be the highlight of my trip. If you couldn’t already tell, this trip includes a lot of eating. Japan is known to have the best food ever and so far it’s quite true! I was very excited to be in Kyoto to have kaiseki. kaiseki is famous in Kyoto and is a traditional way of eating. I picked Kichisen, which was awarded 2 stars in the Michelin Guide. To make a reservation, you got to go through your hotel as specified on their website. Many other Japanese restaurants have similar rules, so it may be hard to plan ahead if you’re not local. This was the biggest drawback of dining in Japan, as compared to New York and London, where reservations can be easily done on Open Table.

Nevertheless, I knew I wanted to dine here no matter what, so I scheduled my Kyoto day trip to be somewhere towards the end of my trip, so I could make my reservation once I arrived in Japan, which was about 5 days prior. Scoring a reservation wasn’t as hard as I thought, and for most restaurants I managed to book my table that way, save for 1 which was fully booked despite giving many alternative time slots.

In fact for Kichisen I think we were the only customers for lunch that day. It was Monday so perhaps that’s why it was quieter.

The location is quite off the town centre, but can be accessed by public bus. Once you alight from the bus stop, go forward and walk for about 2 to 3 minutes and you’ll see the shop. My reservation was for 12pm but I was about 10 minutes late because I initially went towards the wrong direction. There was an employee waiting for us outside the shop to welcome us in.

For lunch, they have Kaiseki courses of ¥8000 ($100), ¥10000 ($125), and ¥12000 ($150). For this meal, we went for the ¥10000 course. Do note that prices are not nett there, unlike most other Japanese restaurants. With all the additional charges, the bill came up to ¥26500 ($332) for 2.

To start off, they offered us a welcome drink, which was sake. The chef owner of this restaurant, Chef Tanigawa made his appearance every now and then to check on us and sometimes to serve the dishes. Majority of the time, it was his employee/ apprentice who did most of the service.


Eggplant and shellfish


Clear soup, scallop cake

We were told by Chef Tanigawa to try the soup first, then mix in the yuzu flower and try again. There really was a difference.



Toro, sea bream, squid, cucumber flower

Chef Tanigawa instructed us on how to pair the sashimi with the various sauces and side vegetables. The cucumber flower is inedible but the cucumber attached to it was.


Seared toro

This was melt in the mouth goodness


Warm zushi

This was egg shreds on rice with some other ingredients.


Bonito fish, bamboo


Ayu fish


Peas


Rice and pickes



Orange Jelly

You may squeeze the cap for orange juice and add in liquor to taste.


Cherries


Seaweed cake


Matcha

Traditionally, kaiseki will end with matcha. Kyoto is also famous for production of matcha and this matcha was very rich in flavour.

The Food:

It was the best meal I had in Japan and the food was perfect, save for the ayu fish which was too salty for me. I like how creative the chef was in cooking and in presentation. It is well worthy of the 2 stars awarded.

Who is this for:

For those who wish to experience kaiseki in a traditional setting, do try this place. No trip to Kyoto is complete without a kaiseki experience. (Says me!)

Value:

$166 per person may sound expensive, but comparing to other top notch Japanese restaurants in Singapore, such price is fair.

Ambiance:

Smoking is confined to specific rooms so there wasn’t a problem. The setting was traditional and good for you to soak up the Japanese feel.

Overall thoughts:

I would come here again for sure! This can be ranked the best Japanese meal in my life so far.

 

京懐石吉泉 Kichisen

京都市左京区下鴨糺ノ森森本町 5

Kyoto-shi, Sakyo-ku, Shimogamo Morimoto-cho 5

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