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Sep 17, 2012 09:13 PM

Final Kyoto Report - Ippodo, Owariya Soba and Mitsuyasu

Finally got my last photos uploaded, so I thought I'd post one last installment.

Ippodo: Tea shop with tea room off to the side. Patrons seemed to be mostly ladies who lunch and businessmen on a lunch break. Teas were served with a lovely, fresh wagashi. If you order matcha, they will show you how make it. I had matcha and my husband had a very strong, almost smoky-tasting tea that we enjoyed.

Owariya: The soba itself was very good, although we prefer a heartier, more whole grain soba noodle. Tempura that came with it wasn't great. We went to the original location, which was a tourist trap. Soba was good but would recommend going somewhere else, since there are so many excellent soba joints.

Mitsuyasu: This very small, lovely, traditional restaurant appears to be the first floor of the chef's house. It has two tatami rooms and only accomodates two sets of guests per night, although the space is very comfortable for those two tables. The chef was very sweet but shy. The food is traditional and pure, soulful cooking. It is distinguished by the most exceptional quality fruits and vegetables, and perfect execution in preparing the ingredients. Some of the dishes we ate:

Fig with sesame sauce

Cold shrimp, okra and tomato with (yuzu?) jelly

Mackerel - very crispy skin, totally raw melty fish on other side. Most extraordinary quality mackerel. Served with a ponzu sauce/jelly.

Ayu in light broth

Cooked vegetables. Corn cut off the cob in hunk and just kissed by charcoal. Ginko. Potato that was so perfectly flash fried - Super-thin crispy exterior, no grease. Perfect grilled mushroom. I can still taste these vegetables.

Miso soup with a buckwheat dumpling.

Egg yolk. Marinated for three years in sake and mirin. (Wish I had a picture of this!) Sweet, creamy and indescribably delicious.

Rice with eel and matsutake.

Red bean soup with chestnut. We were amazed by how much we loved this. It was lighter than other places we've had it, and had a much complex flavor. Reminded us a little of really good southern baked beans? Chestnut was perfectly grilled.

Grapes. Wow. These went a long way to explaining those $80 grapes you see at the depachika. Unbelievably floral, flavorful grapes. The best fruit I've ever eaten.

I though this was the most perfect meal. My husband wasn't as wowed by it, he likes bolder food, but he loved the vegetables and fruit and agreed these were some of the best ingredients we ever tasted. I really admired this chef's approach.

ETA that they served us two different, excellent sakes in beautiful vessels. Both were on the light and fruity side, perfect for a summer night.

Photos from Mitusyasu:

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  1. Had lunch at Mitsuyasu today. It was just perfection, and I don't say that lightly. It was an eight-course lunch, 5,000 yen plus tax, so very modest for the amount and above all the quality.

    Starter was a daikon in miso, the daikon was perfect. Then moved on to simply grilled amaebi, half-grilled, half still somewhat raw.

    Third course was the highlight, which was a simple grilled and boiled vegetable dish, the vegetables were just perfect (here it goes again).

    A small misozuke dango preceded a few lightly grilled and salted moroko fish from Lake Biwa, and then a tofu milk soup with a mochi.

    The rice was a large portion of takikomi rice with the meat of an entire seasonal crab, together with the kanimiso. It was quite a bit, so we took the leftovers home.

    Dessert was a warm yuzu broth, with the consistency of corn soup but delicious.

    The shop is an old renovated house, there seem to be two or three rooms with small tables, so don't think more than 6-8 people could dine there at one time. We could watch the chef work in his kitchen, and the guy was pure concentration.

    On the quality of the ingredients, I would put this meal above Ryugin, Ishikawa, and pretty much anybody else. On execution, at least on par. The weakest point was the inventiveness, but so what, Mitsuyasu delivered perfection in my book.