SO today we head back to Tokyo, after a very busy and exhausting ten days or so on the road.After exploring the Buddhist village of Koya-san, we wait for the bus to take us to the funicular, to head on down the mountain back to Gokuuraku-bashi, to Shin-Imamiya to Osaka, the Osaka circle line to Shin Osaka ( new Osaka station) to catch Bullet train # 526 to Shinagawa where we will learn about travelling on the Tokyo subway system during rush hour.
At some point on this multi train journey we all ( minus our leader) charge for an empty carriage, which then leaves us wondering where and when we would change trains. Fortunately our men are a good deal taller than most of the other travellers and one manages to change carriages, so he could keep an eye on us all. Must not misbehave again, is the motto here, I think.
So, on arriving at Shinagawa, ( a new station just outside of central Tokyo) we change to the subway. Remembering we have been travelling but as our main luggage has been sent on ahead we do only have small wheelie bags. However the carriages are jammed packed and other travellers have enormous cases with them. We only need to travel about three stops, but more and mor people pile in and by the time we arrive at the Shimbasi station we wonder if we will be able to alight, especially as there are professional pushers,on the platform, pushing even more people on board. So with myself being almost lifted out of the carriage somehow or other we do all manage to leave the train in one piece.
So now it is a quick shower and change and onto our last dining experience. Japan has 25 three star restaurants ( only one behind France) and 99 two starred, which is considerably more than France. However, I am not sure how these stars are awarded, Service, cuisine, or non cuisine as the case maybe, presentation, I really do not know. But anyway we were going to KIKUNOI, which is owned by Yoshiro Murata. he himself holds 7 stars. His main restaurant is in Kyoto and he is the third generation owner. He now has a restaurant in London, which I think is called Murata.
His Tokyo restaurant is small, with only two alcove tables, 3 normal tables and 8 counter seats. We had the counter seats, which inhibits conversation but does give a bird’s eye view of the chefs.
Japanese haute cuisine or Kaiseki, relies not so much on the cooking but on the visual and the combination of textures , colours and flavours. Most of all it has to look stunning.
We took the 11 course tasting menu and started the evening with some cherry blossom sake followed by some sparkling Sake which is milky in appearance.The subsequent courses were :-
- Tosazu dressed pickling (Japanese Spanish Mackerel) Sagoshi, with onion and fennel
- Red sea bream sushi with prickly ash bud, grilled squid with nori and egg yolk,mountain yam,octopus, lily bulb petals with salmon roe, udo stalks, sea bream liver pate with white poppy seeds, shrimp and avocado and ostrich fern.
- Sashimi of red snapper and red sea bream, seaweed curled udo stalk and carrot wasabi
- Sashimi of squid with squid liver sauce
- Steamed tilefish, cherry blossom petals, cherry leaf,fern heads,rice crackers dumpling and ginger juice
- Grilled smoked ocean trout and duck breast
- Strawberry and wasabi sorbet
8.Kinome tofu, udo stalk, butterbur, bud licorice, kinome herb.
9. Japanese hot-pot with red sea bream, seaweed, wasabi and sesame sauce
10.Steamed rice with Bamboo Shoots, green pea soup and Kinome herb
11. Sweet bean paste soup with rice cake and milk ice cream
12.Almond jelly hassaku orange with Thai basil seeds..
This was probably the most beautiful meal we had whilst on our travels, but was it the best? I am not sure, some of our group, did not like it at all, too much raw fish, but then this is Japan, it certainly was the most expensive and looking at my notes, I put against the grilled salmon trout and duck breast YUMMY! and against the strawberry and wasabi sorbet, I wrote Wow!
So now back to London and it is Thursday, it must be Egg and Chips? Maybe not!!