OK...so its a chicken shop... but they serve duck too!
Its a pretty big call to make but Hachikian serves some of the best chicken I have ever eaten. And two plates of it were raw. This restaurant is rather famous in Kyoto and with good reason. They specialise in.. you guessed it - chicken.. and eggs of course. Both as fresh as a daisy... but far more delicious. The restaurant has several outlets (this main store being just north of Marutamachi on Kawabata dori) and their own farm in Shiga where all the chicken and eggs are lovingly tended to.
When we first entered the restaurant the poor staff looked a little perplexed.. how would they communicate with us...? Clearly they do not receive a lot of foreign visitors - which is a shame - but chicken sashimi, one of the many dishes in the course menu tends to scare even some of the more adventurous eaters away.
The staff, including the owner (right hand side in pic above) were ever so polite and, quite frankly, a little relieved when they realised I could speak a little Japanese. In fact they seemed overjoyed and went out of their way to welcome us and explain what we were eating and regularly checked in to see that we were OK throughout the meal. They were visibly (and audibly) amused that we had ventured in initially - but by the end of the evening they were posing for photos and gave us a gift of sweet egg yolky biscuits to take home, asking us to please return.
We started with this rich but clean flavoured chicken soup - soothing to say the least.
Two different kinds of chicken tataki- very lightly seared chicken - so it was almost sashimi (but not quite)- above with tade (an antibacterial water pepper) and myoga (Japanese ginger bud - aromatic and also quite peppery) in a soy and sesame sauce. Below, in a ground daikon dressing.
appetisers including a dashi jelly with chicken and dashi maki (omelette roll)
Steamed chicken on finely sliced raw, but very sweet, onions and good soy - simple and sublime
A meaty chicken wing, grilled to perfection - just lightly salted to let the rich chicken flavours shine
this little fella above, in the frame on the wall, is the restaurant mascot - look for his face on the signage outside to make sure you are in the right place!
Chawan mushi - silken smooth. perfection. Nothing inside - just eggs and dashi.
Chawan mushi, literally translating as steamed tea cup - is referred to as a soup as the savoury custard separates from the stock leaving a luscious clear broth in the base of the cup. Usually a chawan mushi contains several ingredients - eg chicken, prawn and various vegetables and mitsuba. Sometimes it comes adorned with an ankake sauce. and although usually served in individual cups - it can also be made in a large bowl for sharing at home.
Now this wee snackette contained the kind of crunchy little bites that I tend to be drawn to - some crisp chicken skin, fried tsukune (seasoned meatballs) and a little play on kyoto sweet - yatsuhashi or otabe ( a cinnamon dough filled with red beans). In this case a spring roll wrapper encased a cinnamon scented chicken mince, with just a hint of sweetness - like a bstilla! very moreish...no pun intended. The token green is a deep fried shishito pepper.
Udon topped with with chunks of duck in a duck broth with sansho and negi - and pickles to the side. Wonderfully aromatic and cleansing.
When the eggs are this good - and we are talking, thick, sweet, creamy, non eggy yolks - you can't turn down the opportunity to try the tamago kake gohan - where the raw egg is mixed in with hot rice. Normally a special soy is offered to pour over but the flavour of this is so delicate and pure you would be wasting a very fine egg to add anything else...
Dessert was a yuzu sherbet - with whipped egg whites used to lighten the icy mix. The perfect finish to this excellent meal of high quality poultry and eggs.
Dinner ended up being about 6000 yen per head - its not cheap. But the lunch time meal is, according to several sources, excellent value if you just want the opportunity to sample this local specialty restaurant's cuisine.