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Here is quite possibly my most memorable meal in Japan. At least it's one that I often have been contemplating, recalling the presentation and flavors of that mystical meal overlooking Kyoto (ahhhh).

Famed Kyoto restaurant Wakuden has been around for something like a century, and recently opened another outlet on the 11th floor of the Isetan department store in the Kyoto JR train station. I was lucky enough to experience this meal in November, known as the most fruitful time of the year to eat in Japan- for the mushrooms, various deep colored fruits, and fresh fishes that only seem to jump out during the autumn months.

We had a 6-course lunch, a true delight. So simple, so beautiful. If you are in Kyoto, please make it a point to come here- it is Kyoto cuisine (Kyo-ryori) at its finest.

Shiso kosencha (shio infused tea).

Tai sashimi.

The sashimi was accompanied by a chilled house sake, that was served in this bamboo receptacle.

Crab ball and maitake ("Hen of the Woods" mushroom) suimono (clear soup). Topped with a dot of yuzu. Although it is clear, the flavors of the soup went so deep. It was childhood, adulthood, life, in each hot sip. UMAMI.

Roasted mountain potato, kabu (a daikon-like root that is usually pickled) and shiitake mushroom, drizzled with a miso dengaku sauce. We were amazed by the fact that they roasted kabu, which is very watery. Brilliant!

A soupy concoction of "ki-kurage" (a kind of flavorless, crunchy mushroom), chrysanthemum, kuzu (a root vegetable that becomes a gelatenous agent, like corn starch), shirako, and tofu. This was so light, yet again, a ton of umami. And quite gorgeous.

For the finale rice dishes, we got to choose between two choices. I got the tai "sushi", which were strips of raw tai over a bed of sushi rice:

Kumiko got the tai "chazuke"- really unique. Rice, in clear soup, with a side of grilled tai marinated in miso, that you add little by little into the rice soup. It was delicious.

An intensely fragrant slice of persimmon (shibugaki). It was so moist and sweet, it was unreal. Served with Kyobancha tea, which had a very burnt, charcoal flavor.

Interior shots.

The counter overlooking Kyoto. Note the Kyoto Tower- a clever visual illusion, as it is only a reflection.

Kiyomizu temple.

JR Kyoto Isetan 11F
T: 075-365-1000
Open 11am-2:30; 5-9pm
Closed some Tuesdays


  • Looks absolutely fabulous, remember that show? but were you hungry like 5 minutes later?

    Sonja on

  • wowsers! i really want to go there!!

    erin on

  • OMG that looks so good! Unfortunately when I went it wasn’t that great and I was disappointed. I blogged about it with less than glowing review :(

    piggyeatalot on

  • Sigh… Yum… Ahh…
    Missing Kyoto and missing your face here in nyc. What a perfect fall meal you had. I freaking love that burnt-flavored tea, man. Gimme gimme.

    Dawn on

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