Sunday, January 09, 2011

Kyoto III: the food

Final post about Kyoto. Lots of yummy food, including all things green tea. At one point we ducked in to a cute little tea house for an afternoon snack. The tea house had a nice Japanese garden and koi pond and a menu filled with a million different varieties of tea flavored treats: hot green tea, iced green tea and even a phenomenal green tea ice cream sundae below.
Not too far from our hotel was the Nishiki Market, a narrow, indoor shopping street lined with hundreds of small food shops, some of which have apparently been operated by the same families for generations.
On the left here is a bucket of preserved eggplant I think. I can't say I totally understand what this is all about, but it is a common sight to have various vegetables in this paste stuff. It must help to keep the vegetables moist and fresh in the winter months. On the right is something I am far more familiar with: breads, meats and veggies, all deep fried and crispy. Yummy!
And here was a curious sight at the market: a small quail egg atop a baby octopus body on a stick and dyed in maybe beet juice.  Pretty cute, but I can't attest to the flavor.
On the last night in Kyoto we all went to a fancy restaurant called Minokichi near the hotel and ordered a Kaiseki tasting menu. We opted for the fall-themed menu. 
The highlight was definitely the duck breast, which was cooked at the table in these leaves (maybe banana leaves?) with mushrooms and an amazing miso, walnut, butter sauce. Oh my god, I get happy just thinking about that dish.
All told, we had about 10 courses, each served in beautiful dishes by our kimono-clad waitress.
We even had a small tatami room all to ourselves.  As is usually the case when Ryan and I dine, we were the last people to leave. If you ever find yourself in Kyoto, please check out Minokichi restaurant. It rocks.
And we couldn't let the folks go home without experiencing at least one multi-bowl traditional breakfast. Smoked salmon, egg, simmered tofu, rice, pickled bits, miso soup and even some natto.

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