Kitcho Arashiyama (吉兆嵐山)

Kitcho Arashiyama is one of the best well-known places for a full kaiseki experience.  Located in the scenery Arashiyama in west Kyoto, Kitcho was opened in 1948 by founder Teiichi Yuki and currently helmed by the third generation Chef-owner Kunio Tokuoka.

Granted by the red book with three stars, the beautiful garden surroundings with remarkable dishes served in private rooms overlooking the gardens, the entire experience was nothing but impeccable apart from the dear high price.  The price here may goes up to 80,000 yen per head which is possibly the most expensive Japanese meal in the world.

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Despite being a top-notch restaurant in Kyoto, Kitcho Arashiyama was not that hard to book compare to the top kaiseki restaurants and sushiya in Tokyo. Reservation can be made from hotel concierges for oversea guests. I booked two month in advance by dropping an request in Japanese on their official website.

View from our private room

View from our private room

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Kitcho Arashiyama is also well-known for its hiking prices.Among the 43200 yen (lunch only), 48600 yen, 54000 yen and the unkown $$$ chef's menu. All the menus have merely differences in the amount of dishes, but higher quality ingredients are used in more expensive course.

Our Menu (Early Aug)

Our Menu (Early Aug)

My partner and i had a lunch there in early August when Ayu (sweet fish) was in season. We picked the 54k menu.

Welcome drink

Welcome drink

Our meal started with a a glass of welcome drink serving in Baccarat. All the serving wares at Kitcho are also the top brands to match its top quality dishes. Eating at Kitcho was an ultimate experience.

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Followed by the first dish along side a welcome sake as a fixed routine of Kyo-ryori (Kyoto style kaiseki). Besides that, we also

We also ordered a jar of Kitcho's speciality sake which was quite famous. It mild tastes work well with the delicacies throughout the meal.

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We also ordered a jar of Kitcho's speciality sake which was quite famous. It mild tastes work well with the delicacies throughout the meal.

1. Appetizer

1. Appetizer

The first appetizer was Ise Lobster with Vinegar Sauce, Summer Vegetables and Jyu-sai. The lobster has a rarely touched center and a slightly seared on the outside, the juicy texture matches well with the refreshing summer tastes of the local vegetables. A lovely dish to start with.

2. Owan

2. Owan

Next was Owan - Hamo soup. Although the soup was as clean as water, it tastes like magic. The hamo (fresh water eel) was very tender and palatable with plum sauce and some yuzu flakes.

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3.Sashimi

3.Sashimi

Sashimi consists of two parts. First to arrive was, side by wasabi and seaweed with foil gold to give a luxurious touch. It was also comes with soy sauce and plum sauce. After finishing the  鯒, a pretty plate of toro and scallop was served. The melt-in-mouth toro was no doubt a love, the server told us to eat the scallop with the white sesame powder on the side - it gives a remarkable aroma and texture to the crunchy scallop, I loved it even more than the toro.

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5. Grilled dish

5. Grilled dish

Ayu was almost served EVERY meal of this food trip in Japan. I may say I am a bit tired of it but on the other hand, I was still exciting to discovery different flavors from different restaurants.

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6. Palate cleanser

6. Palate cleanser

Followed by everyone’s favorite Uni, with summer root vegetables include lotus root, yam and yam stem. The creamy uni with delectable sweetness was definitely a love.

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7. Hassun

7. Hassun

Hassun is a traditional appetizer platter course in Kyo-ryori, I never imagine it was so pretty that we don’t even want to destroy this piece of edible art. There were seven small bites nicely wrapped in a huge lotus leaf: vinegared tomato, hamo’s roe, pumpkin omelette, snap pea cluster, prawn with miso pasta, grilled hamo and some dried small fish inside the flower blossom

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Before serving the simmered dish, we had a crispy prawn head of the prawn in the previous dish.

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8. Simmered dish

8. Simmered dish

Kyoto is famous for their abundance mountain vegetable produce, I am always shocked how can vegetables tastes so ‘real’ and naturally sweet, some vegetables even tasts like fruits.  Vegetable dish consists of eggplant, okra, pepper, pumpkin and some Japanese Our simmered ginger flower

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Pickles

Pickles

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That’s the end of the dishes, and next was rice dish. We actually started talking about how excited we were about the rice dish when we saw the menu and the beginning, isn’t Unagi rice with Japanese Sweet Corn sounds a wonderful rice dish to showcases the best seasonal produce?

9. Rice dish

9. Rice dish

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The rice pot was evenly covered with corn and unagi, but we found the rice pot could be larger as two of us were still craving for more after finishing four bowls each. The crispy rice crust made us crazy.

Corn rice with unagi 

Corn rice with unagi 

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10. Rice dish (2) 

10. Rice dish (2) 

Besides the seasonal rice dish, a larger pot of white rice is also served at Kitcho. It sounds boring but the juicy and slightly chewy grains reminds me of my favorite Kaiseki restaurant Mastsukawa in Tokyo. The white rice was at its best and I can eat it without the pickles.

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11. Fruits 

11. Fruits 

The first dessert was seasonal fruit platter with melon cream sauce. The fruit itself didn’t surprised me but the melon sauce was georgeous.

12. Dessert

12. Dessert

We were asked to pick either matcha ice cream or the seasonal Matcha Kakigori (shaved ice) for the last part of our meal. We both picked the Matcha kakigori with red bean paste and glutinous rice balls. I loved the dense flavor of the matcha, bitter and strong but not over-powering.

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Souvenir

Souvenir

We paid 120k yen for two, include a jar of sake – it was expensive, but definitely worth a visit. I think the ambiance played a major part, and larger part of our bill is probably for this prestige location. The service was impeccable, with flawless dishes that lack of some surprises. All in all, Kitcho Arashiyama is definitely a place you have to try at least once in your life. Possibly one of the most safe choices in Kyoto.

 

Kitcho Arashiyama

Address:58 Susukinobaba-chō, Saga-Tenryūji, Ukyō-ku

Hours: 11.30am-3pm & 5-9pm, closed Wed