Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Back in Japan (June 2010)...Kyoto Day 2 dinner at Shojoan

On our 2nd night in Kyoto, we had the most memorable dinner at Shojoan by Takase River.

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Takase River is a manmade canal, which was constructed in 1611 and was used to transport commercial materials until the beginning of Meiji Period in the last 19th century. Shojoan's building overlooks the starting point of the canal. We were so lucky to have a reservation with them, because it's an exclusive restaurant. If you don't know the owner directly, the reservation is by referral only. My brother-in-law, who is an super-expert of Kyoto (he has traveled to Kyoto well over 100 times easily) got us in!

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We first had the appetizers in the tiny 2nd floor deck, which directly looks over the canal. With the local sake, the very seasonal appetizers made us even more excited for the dinner.

The dinner took place at the dining bar downstairs. It's a tiny open kitchen with only 7 seats. The owner/ chef, Matsumoto-san, welcomed us with the very sweet Kyoto-style hospitality. He was born and grew up his entire life in Kyoto, and he makes his "original" Kyoto cuisine. We had his omakase, which included the sashimi plate, local "obanzai" (Kyoto-style side dishes, made mainly from local ingredients), fried seasonal hamo (pike eel), etc. etc. I wish I had documented all the dishes we had, but I was having too much fun to do so.

All the dishes were absolutely outstanding. They were all delicately made with multi-layers of flavors. They represented Matsumoto-san's extremely generous character so well. We had such a great time talking with him as well as a regular guest of his. It was as if we were invited to dinner at Matsumoto-san's house. He has an extensive sake and wine selection, too. (The upstairs is a wine bar.)

After only one visit, I have become a huge fan of Shojouan. This is a place I want to go back every time I visit Kyoto!!