Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kawai Kanjiro's House Kyoto

For a really great example of a wonderfully atmospheric Japanese house do make the effort to seek out this spectacular museum just south of Gojo street near Higashioji dori - once the home of  famous Kyoto potter Kawai Kanjiro.
Once inside you can see and feel exactly why the artist was so inspired to create here.  A lovely place to wander and sit and soak it all in. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the house, garden and kiln area at a leisurely pace.  Read about the history of the house and Kawai Kanjiro himself, page through beautiful books and see many examples of Kanjiro san's work while you are there. 

Elsbeth's Alsation Celebration

Only Kyoto-ite Elsbeth could throw a b'day dinner ( or a leg for that matter!) like this. At the fabulous Alsace restaurant in the North-East of Kyoto city - perhaps the only French restaurant in Kyoto, make that the only restaurant in Kyoto, where you can order a roast leg of lamb - enough to satisfy any Aussie Ex-pat's cravings... ( of course that was in the cooler months.. I'm jumping back here a little - eating this meal during a Kyoto summer might well have ended us all) 
I think the fewer words used here the better.... not hard to work out that a good time was had by all...
Thanks for inviting us Elsbeth!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Korean food in Kyoto

A Korean friend recently introduced me to some very good grub in Kyoto town. It was in a tiny, ramshackle place in the front of someone's living quarters. You could pretty much see their futon, in fact their entire tatami-matted bed-sit from your seat. 

It doesn't look much at all but wow - this woman knows her stuff. The food I ate here was better than I'd experienced in Korea! Really great iced noodles (above) with cucumber and vinegary soup (forgive me, I don't know the correct names for some of these dishes) - so refreshing on a hot Kyoto day. Bibimbap with crunchy rice base (being prepared below), excellent Kim chee and fantastic Chijimi (thin, crisp scallion and squid pancake). 
Don't ask me the name of the place.. I don't think it has one. But if you are hungry and diligent you might just find the joint. Walk east from Higashioji dori along the north side of Sanjo dori about one or  two blocks  and turn (north) left. A few doors up you will find a small doorway on your left (west) that looks straight into the place. I am sorry I can't be more specific than that but I was lead here on a chatty walk and wasn't taking a lot of notice at the time. Anyway - it is in this general vicinity so if it takes you 10 minutes to find it I am sure you won't mind -it'll be worth it -trust me. 
Get there early for dinner as there are only about 5 seats and it is very popular with the locals. We'd actually been invited for a private lunch-  which caused no end of gawkers -   you should have seen the folks desperate to get in the door...  the look of excitement on the faces of the regulars at the thought of it being open for lunch was priceless! The look of disappointment when they realised it was just a tease... Gold! Very privileged to have enjoyed such a delicious and unexpected encounter with Korean food in downtown Kyoto.

Cafe Rokuyoshiya

This place has been here for as long as anyone in Kyoto can remember. I've patronised it only twice - once just recently when a friend reminded me of it and the first time about 30 years ago!
If there's no-one puffing away (or the smokers are at least in limited numbers) its a great place to stop for a quiet and decent coffee or tea when you are in the centre of town.  And if you are a smoker - well - you will appreciate this convenient venue in an area of Kyoto city which is pretty much a no-go zone as far as outdoor smoking is concerned. 
I love the old school ambiance. Total step back in time. Very conveniently located on the eastern side of Kawaramachi dori (street) just south of Sanjo dori - providing a rather different alternative to the Sanjo Starbucks just around the corner. 
Love it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The other Noma...

I came across this cafe recently in Kyoto - the name struck me as a little opportunistic at first but the Japanese owner explained the "ma" had something to do with  the (oft used in Japanese-food-tv) exclamation "Uma!" the shortened version of Umai ( Delicious/tasty/flavour). The "no" being Japanese for "of"...well that's the loose translation.. so "of flavour" if you like. So no legal action warranted...
Its a pretty place - a very comfortable spot clearly aimed at Japanese "ladies". 
Its a tad girlie, a tad idealistic Euro kitchen with old fashioned aprons and hats ( think wannabe Babette's Feast/the Duchess of Duke street) -and, well,  a tad Scandi. An interesting mix.
The hand-drawn menu was very cute
The coffee was actually quite decent. Rather more successful than the  "Croque Madame" -  a curious version consisting of toasted bread with cheese,  Bolognese sauce and dill..... It was "tasty" but not exactly what I was expecting.. ie NOT a croque madame. 
I really would have liked to have returned to give it another shot as I only ate there shortly after it opened.. and the owner was very friendly.  Alas, even though its been a few months since my visit,  I ran out of time. So if you happen to make it there do let me know about your experience. The vibe was very pleasant but I just wanted more from the food.. am I being too greedy? Perhaps. 
LOCATION: on Niomon Dori, a couple of blocks west of Jingu-michi ( turn west just south of the Giant red Torii gate that leads you upto the Heian Jingu or shrine). On the south side of the street.  The fabulous woodfired pizza place - Da Yuki is very close by -more on that soon.