Thoughts on kaiseki recommendations in Kyoto
I will be in Kyoto for 5 days in mid-April and looking for help choosing a kaiseki meal for my final night. I'm staying at Yoshimizu on my last night, so would prefer something not too far away but am willing to travel for something worthwhile. Someone suggested Kichisen, but I've also heard Aunbo J is very good (and a little closer I believe). Anyone have thoughts either way? Is there a significant difference in price between the two?
Also, any other recommendations for additional, more moderately priced meals for my stay will be greatly appreciated.
I went to Kichisen earlier this month, these are only a few of the courses: http://gaishokujin.com/kichisen/
They have very *pretty* food, but I had mixed feelings about the taste of the food itself.
The sashimi and the fruit was very well-sourced and prepared.The sashimi had very good texture, especially.
However, I thought the dashi, while clean, was a little bland.
When there was seasoning, it was overpowering. The food kept hitting the same notes: either kinome or from a kind of shiokara (konowata then uruka). It might be nice, if you're into lemony pepper buds and fermented fish entrails, but I felt it reached the point of diminishing returns.
Also, you should be made aware: the dining experience at Kichisen is very serious and austere. If you're in a private room, you'll need to crawl through a tiny nijiriguchi entrance (like a catflap) and you'll be waited on by wannabe-monks who can't even crack a smile. Things might be a bit more lively at the counter, but I guess it depends how masochistic you want your meal to be.
If you're willing to spend, Kikunoi Honten seems to have a great reputation, though I've never been.
If you're ok with REALLY spending, Arashiyama Kitcho is phenomenal. Unforgettable.
Ogata is a counter dining omakase experience, I think its very memorable and intimate.