Kikunoi Roan 菊乃井 露庵
In between Gion Shijo or Kawaramachi Metro
Affiliated to the 3 Michelin Starred Kikunoi Honten 菊乃井本店, the sister restaurant Kikunoi Roan 菊乃井 露庵 (2 Michelin stars) starts its lunch kaiseki set for as low as ¥4000. The second michelin restaurant visited in Kyoto and somehow there seems to be an apparent difference when crosschecked with the experiences from the Tokyo michelin. More casual perhaps and a slightly less polished service rendered, I think the Tokyo experiences felt more wholesome. Well, nevermind about that as we came here mainly for the food.
Once seated comfortably, you will be served with a saucer of cold refreshing sake before the chilled appetisers are served. Pretty good platter of appetisers that embodies the subtleties of Japanese cuisine which otherwise, not overly outstanding for a shout out.
My first actually – A very refreshing take on sashimi as these succulent slices of bonito are served with a jelly-textured ponzu sauce that adds a desired subtle sour tang to the already very fresh fish slices. Definitely not as straightforward as it seems, much thoughts must have been put into this ponzu sauce!
The unmistakable clear soup delivered next somehow fell slightly short of the umami spectrum. Whenever I taste of a bowl of clear soup that isn’t as robust in flavour, I would be reminded nostalgically of the memorable experience at Ren 蓮; where it could perhaps been the best clear soup that I’ve ever sampled at.
Two light soupy items in a row, I’m not exactly sure if that was the best idea but this bowl of lightly sweet simmered bamboo shoots with bonito flakes were beautifully cut through by the prickly flavour of the ash flower condiments and did taste delicious in its own right.
Perhaps this was the plan as the beautifully fried tempura set contrasted starkly from the lighter courses earlier. One of the best tempura we’ve ever tasted, the sweetness and succulence of the prawn came through after the thin crispy batter was savoured while the accompanying sweet potatoes should not be belittled as it shone beautifully with its natural sweetness.
Ending off the savouries, the penultimate course was served with pickles and a bowl of really posh cabbage miso soup which tasted like a premium campbell actually (Not being derisive here as it is still a good bowl of soup).
The cheapest kaiseki lunch over here was O.K. but doesn’t seem to have reflected a 2 michelin experience and I am quietly glad that I have not asked for the 7000 one. Well, that might be due to my elevated expectations after having read vaious good reviews for kikunoi honten. Then again, it was still an enjoyable lunch with the long time no see S!
Verdict: A good restaurant.