Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blanc Pierre

One of my favourite little French spots in Kyoto town (and yes there are a few) is Blanc Pierre or as I keep calling it Pierre Blanc.  I must be dyslexic in French.

Housed in a clean, modern space it is a joy just to sit and breath in the cooking aromas. I like to perch myself at the counter with a glass of wine and watch the chef work, occasionally glancing towards their tiny garden through the glass back wall. 

I seem to have come over all Francophilian this week with what will amount to 3 French restaurant posts for Kyoto within a very short span . Needless to say I love the French-Japanese communion. 

And with Kyoto being sister city to Paris... well there are some pretty wonderful French eateries, boulangerie and patisserie to get stuck into .

I'll be brief, as I'm supposed to be working, and just give you a squiz at the kind of dishes you might expect in their lunch course  - for 3200y pp.  All very good. 

Above is a teensy Wagyu fritter amuse bouche
Chilled silken sweet potato soup with vanilla oil.  I could eat this every day.
Very well executed pork terrine with mustard (starter)
Seared Foie Gras on sauteed mushrooms (starter) 
The famous foie gras haambagu - foie gras encased in luscious, garlicky beef mince. 
Tender Duck from France with honey and  local vegetables
Chocolate gateaux with vanilla ice cream
Refreshing citrus ice cream, jelly and fruit

Comme Chez Michel

Thanks to a recommendation by a well-fed Francophile Japanese friend we checked out Comme Chez Michel (back in Jan/Feb) and were not disappointed. 

No mucking around just really solid French bistro eats in a charming setting in the centre of Kyoto. With snow fluttering outside it was not a huge leap to imagine we were in a cosy corner of Paris. 

And at 2800 yen for the lunch course we chose which included an amuse bouche, appetiser, soup, main, dessert and tea or coffee... Hello no-brainer!
Witlof/ Endive and roquefort salad with walnuts
Rustic terrine de campagne with mustard and cornichons
Celeriac soup
Rich duck with Madeira jus on mash
Pan fried fish with shellfish sauce and basil 
Paris Brest with praline cream
Creme brulee with framboise sorbet (each element superb!)

Sumibi Kushiyaki Torito

Another top notch Yakitori shop in Kyoto town but perhaps a little more upmarket than most. The eatery has a slightly more modern setting than your average Yakitori-ya and they do a few interesting takes on the chook theme.  It is ALWAYS pumping so make a booking or be prepared to wait. And this is no 'throw it down and run' kinda stick joint - people like to relax into it around here. The beer and sake flows freely at Sumibi Torito - as it is more commonly known.  
The crowd is a real mix of people from the young and partying to grunty older men and sophisticated office ladeez but the cool thing is they are all having a great time mingling.  It gets so packed in here that you can't help but be swept up in the community vibe  - nor have one of several waiters squish against you on route to a table at the front - it is all part of the mirthful and delicious experience.  
Lovely starter of lesser used chickeny bits  ( I think from around the neck) and skin with pink peppercorns
A zesty ('ponzu- dressed' me thinks but memory fails me once again) salad of random chicken bits with teensy Yasuoka leeks - a must order dish.
Liver - we didn't actually get to try this but it looked good..
Neck/skin brushed with tare ( yakitori sauce) 
Thigh with onion and sesame topping
The Menu
Salt grilled tenderloin with lemon
Grilled onigiri ( rice ball, brushed with soy )
The Tsukune (minced chicken yakitori) here is top shelf (and clearly popular).... and the eggs were too die for, making the most wonderfully natural and easiest sauce in the world
Oh the eggy joy.
Wings (tebasaki). Finger lickin' good. 
Thigh with negi ( spring onion/pencil leeks) 
A touch more sake? I won't say no.....  I love the custom of the overpour into the cedar undercups. A sign of generosity.
 Do be prepared for at least one of your neighbours to be smoking as they enjoy their food. I am not a fan of restaurants in Japan where smoking is still allowed but when the food is this good, and there's smoke coming off the grill anyway -well, I can handle..... The boy was pretty excited when I said  'if you can't beat em you might as well join em' so he puffed away with the deepest satisfaction  - all the while knowing that he will very rarely, if ever,  get the nod to do so again. 

And what is a chicken joint without Karaage ? This was excellent. The skin so crisp, thin and light it almost shattered as we bit into it.  Only the highest quality chicken is used at Sumibi Torito so every bite of every dish is full of deep chicken flavour.
We finished with a  nabe filled with soul nurturing zosui (rice soup) made with chicken stock and rich eggs. 
So damn simple but really hits the spot.

If you are interested in Japanese Food and Culture why not take a peek at my Kyoto Cuisine and Culture Tours.  The tour testimonial page is here.