Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tokyo Journey: Kaiseki!

And yes, our journey in Tokyo continues in Hakone! The place to see Mt Fuji in her full glory. And of course the various hot springs in the region. There is a lot more to see in the region but we had a very packed schedule to follow and thus didn't venture further east, which had quite a number of interesting things to see.

And here we begin. After a soak at the in-house hotspring at the ryokan, we proceeded back to our room, eagerly awaiting for our dinner.

This is actually the welcome drink when we first checked in. It was served with some Japanese dessert. What a start to the stay! Nice and frothy and this is a bowl. Not a cup. Wonderful.

And presenting the menu for the nigtht. It was a pity that I do not take beef. If not, I am sure the menu would include some form of Kobe and Wagyu beef. And somehow they got the idea that both of us do not take beef when we were trying very hard to tell them only one serving should be beef-less. But nevertheless, it was a great meal. :)

The pre-dinner drink came in the form of homemade plum wine (梅酒). It was fantastico. Very light in alcohol content and wonderfully flavoured with the refreshing and sweet taste of plum. Totally whet our appetite for the courses to come. And ths is the lady that served us. The counter staff referred to her as "room service". Ha. Very very very nice lady and our communications is mainly based on hand gestures as she do not speak nor understand English. Interestingly we could figure out most of the stuff she was telling us. Haha. Imagine machine-gun Japanese and her animated hand gestures. :) I miss her already.

And yes, this is the spread. 

Starters with prawn sushi, sesame tofu and eel I think, served with marinated duck breast. All of the ingredients were super fresh. Special mention got to go to the duck breast. Nicely marinated with shoyu and pepper, it is very tender. Braised to perfection. The cod fish on the right is lightly charred on the skin and just sprinkled with a little salt to lift the flavour. Mmmmm... the lovely fatty fish simply melts in your mouth.

Cold dishes with some kind of seaweed served with mackerel (saba fish) and cold tofu. Refreshing. Clears the palate before the main dishes.

 Cold noodle with some vegetables. This tasted normal.

The chawamushi is nothing like what we had before. It had this very fresh taste of eggs and it is slightly favoured with the mushrooms and little bits of local pork in it. Very very very delightful. The vegetables tempura were just normal.

And yah, there is this matcha salt that came as a set. We think it's for the tempura. Ha. Well, it goes well with the fried veggies, so we are happy. The rice is steamed with mushrooms. Nice forest taste and smell in it, although we thought it wasn't entirely necessary as Japanese rice already taste so good to us. :)

Oh yes. Preserved Japanese vegetables. And soup. Light. Didn't recognise some of the veg used.

And how can we forget sashimi. Tuna, cuttlefish and yellowtail. In Japan you only expect the freshest catch and juiciest sashimi and this is exactly what we got. Absolutely superb. Great start of many sashimi meals that we will eventually have in the later part of the trip.

And we hardly able to finish it. Super full by the end of the meal.

And to finish it off, we had the matcha ice cream! Some green tea ice cream we previously had taste bitter due to the amount or quality of the matcha powder used. This was entirely different. It was... sweet. Not sugar sweet but the green tea kind of sweet. Very nice. And we polished this off.

And to wash down everything with this ocha. Nice and mellow. Very much like our pu'er tea. Yay to kaiseki dinner. At this point the service lady was fretting over us and asking us how come we drank so little water from the water pot. Haha. We just smiled at her and she was still muttering that we should drink more water as she exit the room. SOooo nice. :)

And so we turned in after resisting the temptation to order more of the plum wine. And man, were we pleasantly surprised by the breakfast set. Shall share more in the next post. :)

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