Kezako, one of my favourite high-end restaurants in Kyoto closed down last September. I would have been very sad had the chef, the lovely Stephan Pantel, not informed me of the fact he would be opening his own place this year. He wasn't open in time for me to visit in February but opened shortly after so I knew that I'd be visiting in April come hell or high water!
The new space, in a refurbished traditional building, just south of Gosho (the Imperial palace) and opposite the law courts on Yanagibaba street, is gorgeous - a delightful improvement of the former restaurant space (even though it was perfectly lovely!) as there was much more light and dining was all on one level. If you sat upstairs at Kezako you were separated from the action. My favourite spot was, and still is, the counter.
Sweet but refreshing was this non alcoholic juice made from semillon grapes. The wine selection is small but interesting and I also enjoyed a glass of fine Charddonay.
First course in ode to spring was a type of raw trout from Lake Biwa marintated in Bergamot, earl grey tea jelly, almond crumble, topped with snap pea mousse, garnished with a wild mountain sprig that tastes of green peas and grated dekopon citrus.
The famous Foie gras in Narazuke ( as mentioned above) - the foie gras is wrapped in the pickle and aged for 10 days before serving - sensational. I just can't get enough of this dish.
White bean soup with balsamic jelly and tiny seasonal, whole squid underneath.
Stephan explaining each dish to diners. And a side view of the soup/jelly layers.
Tai (snapper) fillet with nanohana (canola greens) and fresh shiitake stuffed with slow cooked pork leg and ika shiokara (salt fermented squid guts... sounds challenging to the uninitiated but truly this was delicious!)
Hard to resist nicking this great knife - luckily this restaurant is based in Japan where theft is unusual. Stephan - watch out for gaijins with large handbags!
Precision and dedication.
Airy Coconut lime mousse on a sable topped with pistachio paste, yuzu miso ice cream and strawberries. Such a wonderful way to end the meal - I was pleased to meet this dish again - it's another favourite of mine and Stephan's ice cream was the inspiration for one of the recipes in my book Zenbu Zen - finding food, culture and balance in Kyoto. Thank you Stephan!
The lunch course, including coffee, was just under 6000yen.
Congratulations Stephan and team - and thank you for yet another wonderful meal.
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