I’ll keep this brief. Gion Karyo had potential to be, er, touristy being situated slap bang in the heart of Gion (for the uninitiated please think Geiko/Geisha and Maiko clip clopping down the cobblestones ). Only it wasn’t. Well not in the way you might expect. It certainly is foreigner friendly, which makes life easy if you are on your own, and I suspect they have an English Menu should you find the need for one. If not – the staff speak enough English to help you out. But it certainly wasn’t touristy in the way that it wasn’t at all tacky, a rip off or full of other tourists… win win. Honestly the meaning of touristy in Kyoto is generally very different to that in other countries so I really needn’t have worried.
I found this restaurant, tucked inside a modern refurbishment of a traditional shop house, a great entree into the world of Kaiseki. It’s easy Kaiseki. Beginner Kaiseki. Nothing too scary, too foreign, too challenging on the food front. All well presented and delicious, with a sense of creativity. Not too formal or traditional. Sounding very Goldilocks isn’t it?. I highly recommend this to people who are newish to real Japanese food and would like to try Kaiseki in a relaxed environment. Here’s some pics – see if it takes your fancy:
I’ll start with some sake please… love this elegant, contemporary serving vessel
Cod roe and sea urchin tofu
Clam,sake and seaweed soup
Beautifully presented sushi box, each wrapped in a different cloth
What a joy to first take in the beauty of the presentation before slowly unwrapping our “gifts”
Sushi with pickles, crab. And lotus filled with roe – a good luck/properous symbol for the new year.
Spanish mackeral marinated in Saikyo miso and grilled, chestnut, sweet black soy beans,nanohana (canola greens) and gobo (burdock root)
Gorgeous old burners.
Deep fried taro dumpling with ginger ankake (light soy/dashi based sauce, slightly sweetened and thickened with kuzu)
Oyster with herring and salmon roe
Crab and daikon in saikyo miso soup
Pickles – radish, burdock, cabbage, mibuna stems
Great to meet this female chef – you don’t see it so often in Japan.
Preparing the rice – several choices are offered, we chose chicken and ginger and a seafood version. There was so much left over they shaped them into onigiri for us to take home.
Rice, pickles, tea to end the savoury courses
Dango (rice dumpling) in sweet red beans, sesame wafer and kinako ice cream
Here’s the Gion Karyo website
Don’t forget to use Google translate.