Kaiseki Kyoto

Jiki Miyazawa (Kyoto, Japan)

By on October 12, 2015

We were the first of our seating to arrive. The interior immediately strikes you in a way no restaurant ever has. Minimalistic. No art, a few plants hang remotely on the walls. Clean. Precise.

Chef Miyazawa and his Sous Chefs greet you with a serious, but welcoming look. Like they’re already concentrating on the tasks to come.

You sit at one of the ten settings on the bar. The Chef and Sous are directly across from you, giving you the feeling like the diners and cooks are going to be playing some sort of culinary game against each other.

Immediately, the service begins. You’re handed a drink menu. We ordered cold sake. Before presenting the bottle, we were given the option of picking one of an assortment of glass, pottery, crystal and other vessels for our drink. I chose a black clay cup, the girl opted for a more traditional black and red cup. The sake is excellent, the staff obviously takes pride in their stock.

The meal service begins. An apéritif is served. The affable Chef Miyazawa, speaking excellent English, explains that it’s all-rice sweet sake. It’s sweet, delicious, and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

The first dish is served. Abalone, mushroom, fish eggs and a decadent sauce. Immediately the taste buds dance and sing. Any preconceived notions about the individual ingredients are immediately dispelled, your memory now imprinted with these new phenomenal flavors.

The dishes continue one after another. High notes become higher notes. Standouts include a perfectly seared red snapper, served with an indescribably delicious sauce and with fresh citrus squeezed over the top. Later, a signature dish of the Chef’s makes its appearance, a somehow-inflated piece of tofu. Gooey middle and just-charred edges reminiscent of a marshmallow cooked over an open flame. Dusted with sesame and accompanied by a sesame sauce, this dish will forever replace your opinion on sesame and its place in the culinary world.

We opted for the ¥15k tasting menu comprised of about 13 dishes. The dishes surprised us from start to finish, a spectacular value for the immense quality of ingredients and creativity of the dishes. All protein is from the sea, reminding you just how good Japanese sea creatures can be and never allowing for the crutch of a seared price of beef or other land created. Just pure seafood ambrosia.

The execution from the staff is flawless. Not only is the service impeccable, water glasses being filled and dishes whisked to and fro in perfect execution, but it’s an amazing display to watch. The concentration on Chef Miyazawa’s face as he expertly fillets fish and vegetables, with his Sous executing perfect timing to his rhythm with accompaniments is a show unto itself.

This restaurant is part of an elite group of out-of-this-world culinary experiences, well-deserving of its Michelin star, and absolutely not to be missed if you’re in Kyoto.

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