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Sep 12, 2012 01:45 PM

Kyoto - Nakahigashi Report and Pics

One of our absolute favorite meals ever. Kaiseki meal served counter-style. The chef uses all types of foraged greens and vegetables. A good number of the dishes have significant bitter, sharp or peppery tastes. Probably not the best choice if you are a picky eater or have a more timid palate. Courses included:

Cold appetizer platter - in addition to the usual offerings, this had a lovely square of "corn pudding"

hot soup with myoga and peppers - VERY gingery

ayu and pepper stuffed with tomato

carp sashimi with shoyu foam, bitter melon and bitter greens - the quality of the carp sashimi was pretty unbelievable, actually.

flower petal soup - with delicious eggplant and jellied dumpling that appeared to be stuffed with mushroom and seafood bits (anyone know what this is called?)

Ayu terrine - Pate of ayu. The little green square of jelly is made from some kind of vegetable that ayu likes to eat. Served with a tomato.

Simmered vegetables - These look typical in the pic but this dish was actually really soulful and delicious.

Crispy unagi. The brown spice is actually dried, powdered shoyu.

Rice with matsutake, bottarga and yuzu peel. He also serves you the crunchy bits at the bottom to dip into an oil flavored with sansho peppers. Simple and awesome.

Cucumber salad topped with some kind of foam that was delicious, sorry I can't remember more about this one.

Dessert - Orange jelly with tofu ice cream and aged balsamic. One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.

Brown sugar candies and "japanese cheese." Serve with excellent cold-brewed coffee.

There was also a course of grilled ayu that was split open, that I don't think I have a pic for, and probably some others that I am missing.

We are dying to go back in the winter to taste one of his game menus...

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  1. How many months in advanced do you have to book this place? I seem to read somewhere 5 months needed. Is that true? And how is the food here compared to Yamashita?

    3 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      I read that online too, but when my hotel called they said to call back on the first of the month before (e.g., August 1 for a September reservation). Totally different from Yamashita so hard to compare. Nakahigashi is completely unique and more challenging, Yamashita is a great time with lots of fresh seafood but not in the same caliber.

      If you are booking far in advance, maybe also trying booking at Mizai? We couldn't get a reservation there...

      1. re: The Cookbook Addict

        Thanks for all the information. I did get a reservation for December at Nakahigashi today though the counter seats are full so have to settle for tatami floor.
        Did not try Mizai; I was told 6 months advanced reservation is needed.

        1. re: FourSeasons

          Four Seasons, I still found these 5-6 months advance booking in Japan totally cra-zee!

          Over here in London, the latest/best ramen spot in town, Bone Daddies in Soho (by ex-Zuma London head chef) was just a walk-in for us. In Tokyo, it would have been a 2-3 hour queue to get in!