Cha Kaiseki at Minoko is one of the rare cuisines to sample in Kyoto. Kyoto for being the center of cultural Japan lacks in a lot of traditional cuisine. Mainly Kyoto is known for sweets (post up coming), kaiseki and obanzai. Compared to neighbor Osaka which is known as the kitchen of Japan, Kyoto’s sickly. But the refinement of Kyoto cuisine is just lovely.
Kaiseki is a multi-course meal that has origins in the tea ceremony but has developed into mini dishes change according to seasons and location of the kaiseki being held. It is an expensive and luxurious affair. Kaiseki is also known as the onsen (hot spring resort) meal and many onsens pride themselves on their kaiseki as much as their hot healing waters. Cha-kaiseki is more of a smaller relaxed meal and is usually a lunchtime event. If you’d like to learn more Kaiseki wiki english page is actually quite good.
Reservations thankfully were not required for lunch and we came early enough to be seated quickly.
I was a bit nervous so I didn’t take as many pictures as I should, I mean I was at an 100 year old teahouse that served what is thought be as high cuisine. This was not a camera moment, but I had to sneak a few. Since Minoko did lovely sakura themed items I thought I’d post it now for the upcoming flood of sakura travel posts.
We came early enough that inside their main tearoom we got the choice spot near the garden window. Birds and turtles played in the streams inside.
Cha-kaiseki is usually served in a black laquer bento box. Ours had two levels. First level was first meal (upper right box): a plate of vegetables and cooked fish. Second level (center) was a light fish and broccoli mix (left) along with a chawan mushi or fish custard (unopened center).
Looking at me you can se the first course laid out on the right.
A close-up of the delicately sauced fish and spring vegetables.
Of course right on the left in a wooden pot and right was this lovely sakura lacquerware that held miso soup.
Since it was a cha-kaiseki or tea-kaiseki hot green tea was kept fresh in a pot. The green jar (far right) held sweetener.
Absolute winner for me was this pot reveal. It’s actually a fish dish in a salted light sauce, but made to look like the traditional sakura mochi. Seasonal, clever and light on the palate.
Dessert came in the form of fresh fruit. This is typical for a lot of nicer traditional restaurants.
Finally bowl-like cups of freshly made matcha and sweet snacks.
Sakura!! And a peanut jelly. So sugary but worth it!
Our meal was 3,500 yen for lunch a peice ($32). Prices for dinner start at 12,000yen ($110). I highly recommend lunch. It was a great experience and the food was elegant yet filling. After the hustle and stress of traveling it was such a relaxing moment.
Update! Google Map of all of my Kyoto Food and Sweets recommendations
Other Kyoto cuisine: shojin ryori / obanzai which I sampled in Arashiyama, kaiseki courses in the heart of Gion there is Gion Endo and I ate there back in 2008 it was delicious and I still remember the food (english) and an upcoming post all about Kyoto traditional sweets.
I’m on a trend right now of food and travel | fashion | make-up/skincare and I think I’m going to follow that trend for a while in posting cycles so up next… fashion!