#navbar-iframe { display: none; }

« Home | Rain and a bamboo forest » | Breakfast, a festival and the dance of the traffic... » | Konnichi wa from Osaka » | Grab Your Chopsticks » | Pancakes on the Rocks, Northmead » | And the winners are... » | bbq one, Eastwood » | Summit Restaurant, Sydney » | Win free tickets! » | La Ricetta, Enmore »

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nishiki-Koji food market and kaiseki in Kyoto

NB. Photos and edits in purple added 04/06/07

KYOTO day trip from OSAKA: As our day in Kyoto drew to an end, we made a quick visit to Nishiki-Koji food market before dinner, a covered alleyway of pickles, fish, freshly shaved bonito flakes, newly harvested rice, bags of eggs, barrels of green tea and plenty of locals passing through.

Octopus tentacles


pickled daikon
Pickled daikon

baby squid
Baby squid

bonito flakes
Freshly shaved bonito flakes

The smell from the fresh bonito flakes was incredible. They smelt of intense dashi broth, salty and fishy and of the sea. The deep dusty pink colour was also rather special.


pickle samples
Pickle samples

The usual Japanese etiquette for pickle sampling is to use the tongs to place the pickles on your palm, eat and then wipe your palm on the wet teatowel provided.

fish cakes
Fish cakes

Snacks on skewers

More pickles


New season rice

sea snails
Sea snails

dried fish
Dried fish

potato noodles
Potato noodles
(using the wooden noodle pressing tool just like on Iron Chef!)


We treated ourselves to a kaiseki dinner at Tagoto Meigetsuan, a restaurant kindly recommended by Cass yesterday (thanks! that was perfect timing!).

Tagoto Meigetsuan

We feasted on 10 courses of seasonally selected dishes for 8,400 yen. We started with an amazing mouthful that was white and creamy and fatty. This was fish stomach, we later discovered. It was so very good.

table setting
Course 1 Hassun: Fish stomach in a yuzu vinegar dressing;
the silver vessel contains chilled umeshu plum wine

Highlights included plenty of suzuki, also known as Japanese sea bass, a sweet white fish with firm but moist flesh. There was sashimi, a beautiful parcel of fish sushi wrapped exquisitely in bamboo leaf and tied up like a mandolin, a starchy sticky lily bean jam bun and a selection of Japanese spring vegetables in a light tempura that included a mild green chilli, angelica spear and butter bur sprouts. The angelic spear was a tendril from a fern, sweet and delicious with a slightly nutty taste. The butter bur sprouts were round balls of green that were quite bitter and almost medicinal. Both have fleeting seasonal availability.

Course 2 Owan: Suzuki (Japanese sea bass) in consomme

Suzuki (Japanese sea bass) flipped to show the skin

Course 3: Sashimi

Course 4: (left) baby leek shreds with salmon roe;
(middle) bamboo parcel;
(right) octopus, broad bean, prawn and salted fish

 unwrapped fish
Unwrapped bamboo parcel of fish

Broad bean, octopus, prawn and salted fish

Course 5 Yakimono: Suzuki (Japanese sea bass) with ginger bud

Course 6 Mushimono: Lily bean dumpling with jam

Lily bean dumpling

Course 7 Tempura: Japanese spring vegetables of
green chilli pepper, butter burr sprout and
Japanese angelica spear

firefly squid
Course 8: Firefly squid with broccoli and mountain yam

soup and rice
Course 9: Soup, pickles and rice

Course 10: Dessert
(L-R) Butter bur sprout ice cream, grapefruit jelly
and fresh mochi

Dessert was a trio of treats. There was super fresh mochi, soft and cool on the throat, and dusted with roasted rice powder. In the middle of our ice cold platter was a segment of bitter grapefruit jelly, set in the rind of a real grapefruit. On the left was a small scoop of pale green ice cream made from the butter bur sprouts. This was a little bitter but quite addictive really.

"It tastes like a plant should", I said to Veruca. "Maybe it reminds me of the sap from grass or daffodils that you used to taste with hesitation when you were little because you were sitting on the grass and bored."


A quick trip on the shinkansen and we returned to Osaka. Somehow enough time had elapsed for us to generate an appetite for crepes. These are everywhere, cooked fresh on the spot, filled with your selection of fruit and ice cream, then squiggled over with tonnes of fake cream before being twisted round into a cone shape and wrapped tightly in coloured paper.

Crepe Ojisan
Crepe Ojisan

crepe menu
Crepe menu

crepe maker
Crepe maker

three crepes
Triple crepe power
(left) Ice strawberry and banana 400 yen
(middle) Rare cheese, strawberry and pie 400 yen
(right) Strawberry and custard 400 yen

strawberry crepe
Strawberry and custard crepe 400 yen

I had the rare cheese, strawberry and pie crepe. The "rare cheese" tastes like a lightly whipped cream cheese, reminding you of a light ricotta cheesecake. The cheese is spread over the crepe, drizzled with strawberry syrup and then spooned over with crumbled shards of golden baked pastry (the "pie", one presumes). The oiliness of the fake cream sends a small shudder down my spine, but when you're standing on a street in Osaka, crepe in one hand and cream all around your lips, there's nothing more you can do than break into one great big happy smile.

Tagoto Meigetsuan
Shijyo-agaru Yanaginobamba Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto, Japan
Tel: +81 (075) 212 8811

Nearest subway: Karasuma-line Shijyo station
Nearest train: Hankyu train Karasuma station exit #13

Read the next Japan entry Read the first Japan entry

10 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/10/2007 11:58:00 pm


  • At 5/11/2007 2:05 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    why don't you include pics as usual? :)

  • At 5/11/2007 7:53 am, Blogger M-H said…

    We are going to be in Kyoto for a few days, so thinks for the tips!

  • At 5/11/2007 8:08 am, Blogger Nilru said…

    Sounds Devine! And I hope you check out Dotonbori whilst in Osaka.It is in Namba.


    I believe we had dinner here almost every night we could...you can't go past some buildings which have 8 Floors, each floor dedicated to a different food type (we had lots of nabe!)

    And there's a place that does nice egg tarts too (seemed to be very popular with teenage girls). And there's takoyaki gift shops filled with takoyaki-related paraphernalia...and then of course a takoyaki stall out front.

  • At 5/11/2007 9:44 am, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    What fantastic descriptions. Even without photos, I can visualise the food and it sounds so good.

    It doesn't sound cheap though but I'm sure its all worth it.

    Do you plan on trying the deadly puffer fish, wagyu beef and whale?

  • At 5/12/2007 1:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, for the 10 course meal, 8,400 yen was the cost of the meal for only one person?

    Thanks! Nice blog btw

  • At 5/13/2007 1:37 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mina - I'm out all day until 11pm and then blogging when I get back. There's barely enough time to get the posts up! I hope to get some photos up when I get back to Sydney :)

    Hi m-h - You're welcome. Enjoy your trip!

    Hi nilru - We're heading back to Osaka next week for some serious shopping and fooding. We are definitely spending plenty of quality time in Kitchen Alley!

    Hi thanh7580 Thanks. I'm glad I managed to capture some of the atmosphere, even without pictures :)

    Japan is not that expensive. Kaiseki is like eating at Tetsuya's. It's definitely a treat.

    I want to eat fugu but will have to see. Apparently it's not really the season for it at the moment.

    Hi Sandra - Yes, that's for one person. As I mention above, kaiseki is pricey but you're paying for the expertise and the seasonal produce, much like an exquisite degustation. Thanks, and glad you're enjoying the blog.

  • At 6/05/2007 12:07 pm, Blogger susan said…

    all those courses look excellent. I went to Yoshii's at the Rocks a couple of weeks ago and that was twice the price, so i think that is excellent value for your 10 course meal! Oh my god those crepes look fantastic too.

  • At 6/05/2007 8:31 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Susan - Food is indeed cheap in Japan. We managed to find one of the cheaper kaiseki restaurants which was great.

    The crepes were yum but the fake cream could be a little too much at times. But fresh warm crepes? Mmm... yum...

  • At 9/20/2009 10:38 pm, Anonymous MCAT said…

    Hi Helen, The first fish dish is probably Hamo rather than Suzuki. Hamo is famous in Kyoto where there is no sea nearby but Hamo was tough enough to be delivered alive by foot back when Kyoto was the capitol. Hamo is an eel like fish in appearance with lots of bones and it takes a very experienced good chef to cut the little bones a couple milimeters apart to make its texture smooth. All the cutting makes the flesh look frilled or brain like as you put it.

  • At 9/21/2009 12:11 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi MCAT - Thanks for the info. You've a wealth of knowledge! The fish did have a wonderful frilled appearance.


Post a Comment

<< Home

      << Read Older Posts       |       >> Read Newer Posts