January 13, 2018
I head for Kyoto in the afternoon; it's only about a 35-minute train ride. Last night, Mr. Makoro invited Kiyotaka and me to a kaiseki lunch in Downtown Osaka. From there, we'd be able to walk to the train station. I didn't know he'd treat us to lunch, that was so kind of him, really.
And this place near the ANA Crowne Plaza was excellent! We were given our own little room, and the staff were just the most polite and professional servers for which you could ever hope. Kaiseki is basically Japan's version of fine dining, with only the freshest, most seasonal ingredients used and following a general format of: appetizer, sashimi, slow-cooked meat with vegetable, soup, grilled meat, rice, dessert. And like tasting menus in Europe and the US, you can get a varying number of courses.
The next dish was a unique one: egg custard with salmon sashimi, onion and scallion. I wasn't too crazy about this dish because I found it a little bland. And the runny consistency left me wanting maybe a starch to hold it together while I finished it...crispy noodles or something.
Egg custard w/salmon & onion:
After arriving in Kyoto, I walked around this huge department store, Setan, adjacent to Kyoto Station. I saw my hotel as the train rolled in. I knew it wouldn't be a long walk there, so I decided to grab an early dinner since I was already near a bunch of restaurants. I settled on a tonkatsu joint and was happy I did.
After checking in and relaxing for a while, I headed out and took a walk to see if I could find anything good for dinner. As usual, by 9:30 PM, even on a Saturday, most everything was closing down for the night. Luckily, there was a ramen joint open a little later than everyone else, so my decision was an easy one. I placed my order with their vending machine, and I was off to the races!
Genten Nishite Choten Ramen
Well, this dish was all over the place with so many components, but it all seemed to work. I've this newfound respect for pickled vegetables since starting this FEAST; they always seem to cut any richness in a dish immediately, making the dish more palatable. This turned out to be the main course.
Pickled veggies, grilled sardine w/cod roe, fried perch filet, duck cube, black beans:
The ramen here really was excellent. The broth was very light and not overly salted. The noodles looked like angel hair, so maybe this joint gets them pre-made from a distributor. What really stood out here was the delicious slices of pork. They were tender and juicy. The scallion and black fungus did their usual jobs by providing extra texture to the dish. The soup really hit the spot on a cold, damp night.
Apparently, there's a difference between ordering tonkatsu loin or filet, the former being the slightly more expensive option. But I'm not 100% sure as I was just going by the English menu this joint happened to have. Anyhow, the pork wasn't as good as what I'd had in Tokyo a few days ago, but it was still very tasty. The panko breading was nice and light, but the meat just wasn't as tender as it could've been. Still, though, I'm sure I would've thought this meal was out of this world had I not had the same dishes recently that were almost perfect. A very nice touch was the use of tiny clams in the miso soup.
January 13, 2018