Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Thanks to Audrey's wonderful suggestion, Dan and I ended up spending a night at Ryokan Ikumatsu.  It was an amazing ryokan, right on the riverfront, fantastic location and service. Included with the price of the room is a full-out kaiseki meal.  Everyone says that the one experience in Kyoto you must have is a good kaiseki.  A kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal.  It's supposed to have all these various elements.  The idea is that each individual ingredient should be fresh and should be able to stand on its own.  You want to enhance the flavor with good pairings, but not use too much sauce to drown it out.  Also, the appearance of the dish is very important.  Oh, and kaisekis are really expensive. A typical kaiseki can easily run over $100 per person.  
While I am happy that I tried a kaiseki once, I can't say that I would pay that kind of money to eat one again.  Quite an experience, though.  
This is our room.  It looks very simple, but the furnishings are very delicate.  At night, they set up your bedding right on the tatami.  The table is pushed to the side.  This is the traditional way of sleeping because you could conserve a lot of space.  We actually got to eat dinner in our room on that table.  So fun!  You are in the privacy of your own room, but the waiter still keeps coming with new dishes.  :)

We had a little sitting 'room'!  (More like corner.)  But we had a gorgeous view of the river from here.

This is our menu!  The chef prepares a special menu every night!  I'm only going to show you a couple of the more photogenic dishes because there were way too many!

Hassun, from mountains and sea: one of my favorite dishes.  Everything on the plate is executed with precision and you can really taste the flavors of every individual element.  I liked the green wheat gluten simmered with mirin and sugar.  :)  

Sashimi: flatfish, tuna, amberjack.  I loved the flatfish but have decided that tuna sashimi is not really my thing.

Yakimono, fried sea bass: This dish was a bit mediocre, fish a bit dry

Takiawase, simmered dishes: yum, probably my favorite of the bunch.  I just love how everything fits together so well!

Sunomono, dishes with vinegar: see those firefly squid?  Those were Dan's favorite.  Good texture and bursting with flavor.
One more post about their traditional Japanese breakfast to come!

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