A recent article in the travel section of the Guardian recommended a restaurant called Oku.
I find it in the Gion district in an area containing stylish, old buildings in narrow lane ways that are packed full of many other classy restaurants: 570-119 Gionmachi Minamigawa Higashiyama-ku Kyoto.
The space is sparse. Simple. Elegant. Plain white walls. Dark timber floors.
The music playing is gentle like a breeze that whispers through the trees.
The whole place exudes calm and tranquility. I’m relaxed now after my frenetic day of sightseeing.
I select the yuki (雪: snow) degustation menu:
arrowhead and ginkgo nut chips
deep fried taro and steamed prawn bisque, citrus flavour
assorted sashimi, squid, sea bream and turnip
rice cake in white miso soup, Japanese mustard
grilled flatfish, Japanese pepper + butterbur dressed with tofu, sesame and white miso
chicken meat ball hot pot, Chinese cabbage, carrot, and citrus pepper
steamed rice with grilled tilefish and pickles
dumpling with sweet bean paste and soybean flour
The food is sublime.
The atmosphere naturally lends itself to quiet contemplation.
So I ponder how I like, no love, the idea of a number of smaller dishes. Several different flavours that complement each other providing a delightful sampling of the chef’s capabilities. Tasty yet filling.
The pace is leisurely but the time eventually comes for me to depart. It’s with a heavy heart but I know I’ll return one day soon.
17/20 food (taste) : brilliant
14/20 food (selection) : good
14/20 staff : my waitress speaks adequate English and helpfully describes each course
15/20 atmosphere : restful
15/20 price : ¥3500 for my set-price dinner
75/100 total : distinction material