Monday, May 7, 2012

Kakinuma かきぬま

About a week ago I enjoyed a very pleasant meal with friends at Kyoto's Kakinuma. The chef used to be in the family business (his father was a Tempura master) but his parents have retired and he now has a place of his own on Marutamachi dori between Kawabata and Higashioji dori. On the north side of the road. 

The food is simple and fresh with clean flavours and the dining space is a wonderful mix of traditional and elegant contemporary Japanese furnishings. You sit on the floor but there is a deep hole for your legs under the table - much easier for foreign visitors than a 4 hour stint on the tatami but with a similar atmosphere due to sitting at the low tables.  There is also a counter that faces the kitchen as per below - you are still on the floor, but on backed cushions for support and of course that lovely, comfortable drop for your legs. 
We started with a first course comprising of a variety of fresh seafood, with land and sea vegetables and a lush gomadofu or sesame tofu (see above pic - the gomadofu was served on a spoon with some uni or sea urchin on top)
Then came the fresh homemade tofu inside a bamboo cup - try it unadorned at first then with salt or freshly grated ginger.
One of the several wonderful sake's we sampled...
More excellent sashimi - toro (tuna belly) was the highlight
Crisp skinned, tender fleshed butter red emperor with grated daikon, soy and lemon
 Tai (snapper) in slightly thickened dashi with junsai (pond plant) and yuzu flower buds for fragrant. Kinome (sansho leaf) sits on top of compressed flakes of snapper. 
Lotus root puree stuffed with chicken mince, deep fried and served with a light ankake (thickened sauce of dashi, soy, mirin) 

Individual rice servings
The rice course comes with a choice of seasonal green peas, small clams or tai. Eat it straight at first then pour over tea/dashi for ochazuke - make sure you scrape up the okoge - the lovely crisp and caramelised rice granules that have stuck to the bottom of the cooker. Enjoy with pickles on the side. 

Dinner starts at around 5000y per person (for the above course) - alcohol not included. 

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