I shoulda known my 3 days in Kyoto were destined for the abyss, when the i tried to book a table the month before at KICHISEN and was informed they were on vacation the week i was passing through. doh!
loosing rental iphone & torturous walk to Mt. Hiei temple aside, the two culinary highlights that salvaged Kyoto for me was GOTARO & SOSOAN.
What a tasty concept: hot pot soup. it was worth the 4,200 yen for a soup. previously i had only seen 12" schrimp with rainbow tail at Sushi Sawada's, so i knew the soup would be good. a little off putting when the waitress should me the shrimp was still alive and she had to drown in the pot with chopsticks for a minute so that it wouldn't thrash about & make mess but that killer shrimp was tasty, so all was forgiven.
my hotel (the screen) had served a decent kaiseki breakfast, where the boiled tofu really stood out, so i was really determined to find a good tofu place... furthur bad luck, that Tōsuirō was unavailable my last day, i went to SOSOAN after reading this
And until you drag your butt to Kyoto, you'll never know how powerful & tasty tofu can be.
Although i was served seven different dishes than depicted on that page, it was pure artistry. One dish, where tofu is made in sheet ribbon form but served rolled up, when it sat on my tongue. i could feel complex interaction between the sheets touching each other--as if the orchestra was warming up-- i've only had that kind of elemental food experience 3 other times. i was surprised that it came from something as simple as tofu.
What they say about kyoto tofu is all true, it simply is the best.
When i find the strength, i'll toss in my two cents regarding tokyo portion (Saito, Sawada, Dons de Nature, A511, Michiba). Sawada is a very funny man!
Omakase, full course kaiseki is only possible with reservation. i made my reservation at lunch time for dinner. i'll speculate that walk in is possible for lunch but dinner is too risky. The restaurant is really, really off the beaten path smack in the middle of suburbian residential block, so if nobody else is there after 5:30pm, i don't see why the restaurant would stay open. Last order for dinner is 6:30.