Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My favorite meal of all, Kaiseki Cuisine in Kyoto

Kyoto, formerly the Imperial City of Japan, a city less than an hour train ride from Osaka with a reputation for its abundance of Japanese food and cuisine and also a handful of UNESCO sites. It is definitely one of my must-visit city!

When I was planning my trip to Kyoto, there was just a few things that I simply couldn't miss in my to-do, to-visit, and to-eat list!
Such as...

Wearing kimono, Japanese traditional garment.

(Well hello, I'm in Kyoto - Land of wooden temples, colorful shrines and geisha. Furthermore I'm going to have traditional food, what more reasons do I need? If I don't wear it that day, wait till go Odaiba those futuristic area baru wear meh...)

*banyak alasan*

I wanted to visit a lot of temples! One day not enough!!! Seriously, if you're planning to go to Kyoto, spend a couple of days there. Super regret making it a day trip lah!

And for my to-eat, I really wanted to try Kaiseki cuisine because I'd heard so much about it and I was really really curious!

來京都就是要體驗穿和服,特色店, 看很多寺廟神社和吃懐石料理.

So what is "Kaiseki cuisine"?

Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals, and is analogous to Western haute cuisine.Kaiseki meals have a prescribed order to their dishes, most of which are prepared by using one of the common techniques of Japanese cooking. However, kaiseki chefs have considerable freedom to add, omit or substitute courses in order to highlight regional and seasonal delicacies and personal style. 

Kaiseki is often very expensive – kaiseki dinners at top traditional restaurants generally cost from 15,000 yen to upwards of 40,000 per person (about US $125 to $340 at 2015 exchange rates), without drinks. Cheaper options are available, notably lunch (from around 4,000 to 8,000 yen, (US $34 to $68)), and in some circumstances bento (around 2,000 to 4,000 yen (US $17 to $34)). 

(From Wikipedia and Japan Guide)

After a lot of research and comparing, I locked down my choice to Gion Nanba ,a traditional kaiseki restaurant awarded with one Michelin star, and chose special value lunch course, a Mini-Kaiseki with 7 courses, because of the friendlier price at 5,000 yen (excluding tax, service charge and drinks) and also of the restaurant's convenient location.

*Tips: If you really wish to try a certain cuisine without burning a big hole in your pocket, I suggest you go during lunch time as most restaurants usually offer a lunch menu at a friendlier price.


The place is so hidden that you just can't see it from the main road as it's tuck inside an alley with no signs. The easiest way to find it is to look for Starbucks on the right hand side, and turn in the alley on your left.


The restaurant is pretty small to be honest, the bar counter only offers 7 or 8 seats if I'm not wrong but always choose the bar counter seats because you will get to see the chefs preparing your food right in front of you.

Table setting

Mr. Nanba, the chef owner preparing food.

Appetizers - Asparagus mousse, beans and octopus.

I know it doesn't found very fancy but trust me, when we put the food inside our mouth and savour it, it's totally mind-blown! It's the same feeling course after course and we were still so amazed by the flavors, textures inside our mouth and it's like we had never have anything like that before when.... honestly, most of the ingredients are familiar to us. Especially the tofu! which I will raved about it later.

To the main courses!

Suimono - Tofu and fish soup

This is so so so so so so good that I really felt teary and all those Japanese food manga was not exaggerating when the character burst out in tears when they had something so good! How can this fish and tofu soup be so delicious! The tofu, seriously, it's more like pudding or panna cotta. So silky smooth, rich in flavor and perfect! What lousy tofu had I been having all these years ah??? 

Otsukuri - Snapper, squid and bonito sashimi
I super love the snapper

Prawn, Octopus egg, egg plant, tomato, mackerel sushi and shell fish in mayo

The tomato.... *must cry again* so juicy and fresh that it made Bobby and I went to market just to have a box of cherry tomatoes just to see whether it's the ingredients freshness or the chef's skill. 

Potato stem, onion and sea eel

Really wanna cry with every bite of it. Why is it so good!!!!!

Shokuji - Cucumber, konbu, eggplant, sticky rice and miso soup 

 My least favorite of all.... because the pickled vegetable was too sour and the soup was too salty. Love the sticky rice though.


And lastly, the dessert!


 Our super duper favorite of all!

Guess what is inside! Go guess!!!








Kyoho Grape (Also another fruit that made us go market buy and realized the grapes we been eating is nothing compare to this. It's not cheap, we paid B$20.00 for a small box but it's well worth every single bite!)

Green bean ice cream! (You guessed matcha ice cream or pistachio lehh.... nyek hehehehe. Where got so predictable)

Orange Mousse 


And.... the transparent thing... Go guess!


I was in heaven!!!!!!!  




















 To end it perfectly, Japanese sweet with a cup of hot green tea (extra kao / thick), letting out a loud satisfying "Aaaahhhhhh~~~~" with a huge smile.








Chef Nanba seeing us off the restaurant. We couldn't really communicate with him and with really simple English and body language, we told him that the food was so good and we're now doomed because we can never have this kind of food when we go back home and we're surely going to miss it.

*bawling like a baby*


The whole lunch took more about 1.5 hours to complete and if I ever go to Kyoto again, I wouldn't mind splurging on a 10 course dinner because I now have confidence in Kaiseki cuisine! It is definitely one of a kind dining experience and I highly recommend everyone to give it a try if it's within your budget.


Gion Nanba

Opening hours: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm for Lunch, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm for Dinner
Closed: The 1st and 3rd Thursdays in every month
Address: Higashiyama-ku, Hanami-koji Higashi-Hairu
(In front of APA Kyoto Gion Hotel, near Yasaka Shrine)
Contact number: (075) 525-0768




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