Kyoto travels: the best bang-for-your-yen lunch at Roan Kikunoi
|Roan Kikunoi: smoked cherry trout|
|Roan Kikunoi: dinner preparations|
|Roan Kikunoi: Tai milt tofu with ponzu jelly|
The Hassun course followed: a beautifully presented dish of various seasonal seafood and vegetables, accented by the last of the cherry blossoms. Small mouthfuls of ikura (salmon roe) and octopus with its eggs (better than the overcooked version at Chihana) were outstanding. The tai sushi was incredibly fresh, but was let down by overcooked rice, however I loved experiencing the vegetables I'd never seen before like mountain yams, udo stalks (a mountain asparagus) and lily roots (Yurine).
|Roan Kikunoi: Hassun course|
|Roan Kikunoi: sashimi of Spanish mackerel and sea bream|
|Roan Kikunoi: baby tuna with egg yolk sauce|
|Roan Kikunoi: finishing touches added to the sashimi course|
A steamed course, again presented in beautiful lacquer-ware, was next. The gelatinous soup contained a cherry leaf encasing some tender tilefish (guji) which was wrapped around glutinous rice. There were some salt cured cherry blossom petals in there too, contributing to the heady aroma released from the bowl as the lid was lifted. Small cubes of tender bamboo and some ground rice crackers added texture. The dish was topped with delicate warabi (bracken fern) and a little ginger kept things fresh. This was quite a substantial course, but I enjoyed the progression of flavours from the punchier tuna sashimi to this one, which seemed simpler (but far from simple) and earthier.
|Roan Kikunoi: steamed tilefish in a cherry leaf with sticky rice|
|Roan Kikunoi: grilled tofu with kinome miso|
|Roan Kikunoi: hot pot|
|Roan Kikunoi: hot pot with bamboo, seaweed and fish|
|Roan Kikunoi: bamboo shoot rice with kinome|
|Roan Kikunoi: rice, pea soup and pickles|
|Roan Kikunoi: almond jelly with basil seed and strawberry|
|Roan Kikunoi: the entrance to the dining room|
By the way, if you are at all interested in Chef Murata and kaiseki, I highly recommend his book, Kaiseki: The Equisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant. Several of the dishes that I ate above are featured in the book with detailed descriptions of the ingredients and preparation methods. I find that knowing more of the story behind each dish really adds to my enjoyment. I find I use his home-style Japanese cookbook a lot for meals at home too. Basically, I'm a fan boy!
PS - in hindsight, I wasn't as brief as I thought I could be!