Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Izuju (Kyoto style sushi), a Sumie exhibition and Gion stroll...

Recently I had the pleasure of sampling some of the wonderful Kyoto style sushi at the famous Izuju in Gion. This find was yet another excellent recommendation by my friend Michael (aka Kyoto Foodie). 
After a meeting with Kikunoi's Murata san recently we dropped in for a quick sushi feast.  The restaurant was dark and soaked in charming old school ambiance. 
The restaurant is particularly well regarded for its sabazushi (lightly vinegared mackeral sushi wrapped in konbu, for flavour, which is removed before eating - see top LHS at the back of the plate below) and inari zushi (sushi rice in sweetened fried tofu pockets - see the brown wrinkled triangles on the RHS )- so we tried a mixed plate including both of them plus sushi of gujou (Kyoto ben or dialect for Amadai/tile fish),  Kyoto's favourite fish apparently, topped with finely shaved kombu resembling pale green fairyfloss ( front and centre), a makizushi of fried nama fu (fresh wheatgluten - RHS above the inari triangles),  and little packets of rice tied in bamboo leaves containing sea bream and kinome (aromatic leaf of the sansho plant- far LHS). 
Both the rustic appearance and hearty portion size of the sushi struck me as a little unusal, this being elegant Kyoto, but when it came to flavour, texture and mouthfeel it was nothing but refined. The sushi at Izuju is so perfectly seasoned it does not require the usual soy or wasabi.

The Inari zushi was excellent - containing a lot less vinegar and sugar than most versions available.  I loved the chew of the deep fried fu. The sabazushi had none of that fishy hint that can sometimes creep in from incorrect preparation - it was simply delish. 
After lunch I strolled over to a gallery in Gion where the lovely Kathy Ike was holding an exhibition of her own Sumie paintings and some of her stunning ceramic work. Forgive me the photos don't do the work justice but here's a little taste.  ( Kathy will have a webpage up and running soon and I will post a link).
I was in the mood to wander, as I often am inspired to do in Gion - or anywhere in Kyoto for that matter.... so I did. Here's some visual notes of my journey. 
Not bad for a Friday afternoon's meanderings. 

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