Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shierii Kurabu... Sherry Club

A little obscure perhaps but when one tires of drinking sake (is that possible?) there is a small sherry bar near the south exit of the Yasaka Jinja (shrine) that serves around 90 different varieties. If you are a local you will be handed a printed sherry "guide map" from which you select your poison. Scratch your name in the space provided and tick off whatever you sample so you have a record for next time  - don't worry  the gorgeous Michiko will file it away for you and whip it out next time you drop in. (and yes - she does speak a little English and is well versed in the language of Jerez having spent some time studying with local providores last year). 

If you are new to the world of Sherry try a sample flight  - a fino or manzanilla to start, next perhaps an oloroso then, if you are up to the cheese or dessert stage of the evening, go straight to the other end of the spectrum - a rich, sticky Pedro Ximenez. The tapas is decent - some of it pretty good, stick to the simple plates such as Jamon (sliced from the leg to order), Spanish cheese, croquettes, gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and you won't be disappointed - last visit we enjoyed pork belly with lentils and it rocked, the lentils soaked in savoury, reduced, porky juices. I haven't tried the paella but it looks and smells fantastic. 
They also do a pretty good Sangria and serve beer. 

 Even though I have perched myself up at the bar on more than a handful of occasions I have, more than once and in the dark,  walked right by the tiny lane way that leads to the bar so pay careful attention.  Find the south exit of Yasaka jinja and continue to walk south about 3 minutes - all the time looking on your left (east) for...  well basically a doorway that is not a doorway but the start of a tiny cobbled lane which is enclosed for the first few meters - enter and within a few seconds you will be out the other side and the Sherry Club is a white building on your right. (www.sherry-club.com  - there's a big sister store in Tokyo's Ginza district also). 

There are several traditional Japanese restaurants along the same lane further east and a lovely place for a wander even if you don't eat.  Back out the way you came  - and towards Higashioji dori just a few minutes is a great little restaurant called Kappo Bar Doi (kappobardoi.com) worth seeking out -I will post about that later but it is run by a friendly young husband/wife team serving up interesting experimental Japanese/euro dishes and some excellent Japanese wine.  Also not far away is one of my favourite French/Japanese restaurants - Kezako - which I will also get around to posting about one day. 

Thanks again to my friends Myong Hee, Kikuko and Mayumi for seeing me off with a few quiet sherries just before I returned to OZ - I miss you but will be back soon. Meet you at Sherry Club! xx

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Katsukura かつくら

What's not to like about deep-fried, crumbed pork? 

Katsukura is a Japanese "chain" restaurant with good quality Tonkatsu in various grades, cuts and weights of succulent, sweet pork. I usually go for the "rosu" which is the sirloin but the "hire" or filet/fillet is also very good - and you can order some of each for variation. 

These pics are from the outlet  above Kyoto Station but I prefer the Sanjo dori store (just east of Teramachi). Order your choice of main and receive as much rice, tea, miso soup and cabbage as you can take - all for about 1500 yen.  Their seafood croquettes are bloody good too if you are not a fan of the swine. And of course there are other fried goodies including ebi furai (crumbed fried prawns) and a decent chawan mushi (steamed savoury custard) and a few other bits and pieces. 

Grind your own sesame (great for keeping kids amused) then add some tonkatsu sauce (2 strengths are on the table for mixing to suit your own tastes) and dip away. The yuzu dressing ( also on the table as is a hot, spicy mustard) is perfect on the finely shredded cabbage (which helps digest fried foods) and the pickles are also worth a nibble. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Restaurant Pittoresque - Hotel Okura Kyoto ほてるおくらきょうとう

I took myself on an impromptu "date" a few weeks ago. It is lovely to treat yourself to a night on the town sometimes - especially on a complete whim. Sadly this particular venue was not really my cup of tea. It is a little old fashioned in regards to both food and service and the venue itself a bit tired and stuffy - perhaps if I had been in a small hotel in a quaint European village I would have been a little more appreciative. 

I am sure there are people who would feel very comfortable here and it is the type of venue that the Japanese, when looking for something a little exotic (ie not Japanese) might visit and enjoy as a one off eg celebration meal, romantic date, entertaining clients etc. The meal was fine, some of it quite  pleasant, but I would rather have spent the $300AUD elsewhere (that's for one person with 2 glasses of wine).  

At the end of the day it comes down to personal taste and that is why I have included it in the blog - if you are staying at the Hotel Okura in Kyoto you might be tempted to dine here but just beware of the cost which was more than I was anticipating and if you like your food traditional in a Euro sense and "tasty" - then you may really enjoy the experience.  Take a look at the pics below for an idea of what to expect. 

A curious mix of jamon, parmesan and rocket salad - yes jamon and not prosciutto
Scallops stuffed with truffle 
Consomme with small cubes of foie gras and vegetables
Lobster tail with truffles
Wagyu with seared foie gras and white asparagus (dish of the night)
cheese and bread
A light pre dessert of yoghurt panna cotta and fresh strawberry sauce
Then a very theatrical and full gueridon serviced crepes suzette. I enjoyed watching the waiter who was very focused as you will note below but I fear the cultured butter had perhaps become over-cultured.... to be polite. 
Tea or Coffee and petits fours