Bright bites of the old cap­i­tal

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Japan -

TEA FOR TWO: Morn­ing tea the Ja­panese way is el­e­gantly served daily at Saryo Ho­sen in a cen­tury-old wood-and-pa­per house. The tea­rooms, sur­rounded by a bon­sai-style mini-for­est, fea­ture an­kle-high ta­bles and flat cush­ions on tatami mats. The spe­cialty is sweet warabi-mochi (bean cake), served with ground, roasted soy beans and mo­lasses. Slip­pery as an oys­ter and as sweet as sher­bet, they are tricky to eat with chop­sticks. Wash down the del­i­cacy with Ky­oto-style green tea. Shi­mog­amo, Nishi­tak­agi-cho 25.

EAT ON THE RUN: Ad­ja­cent to the old cap­i­tal’s most pres­ti­gious shop­ping street, the nar­row, cov­ered al­ley of Nishiki food mar­ket is a trea­sure trove of ex­otic food and pe­cu­liar sights that’s known lo­cally as Ky­oto’s pantry. It’s dif­fi­cult to iden­tify many of the ar­tis­ti­cally pre­sented del­i­ca­cies on dis­play but en­thu­si­as­tic stal­lown­ers are on hand with sam­ples. Look out for kan­butsu (dried goods such as fish and seaweed), nukazuke (pickles made by fer­ment­ing veg­eta­bles in rice bran) and tofu dough­nuts. Af­ter a walk along the mar­ket’s 500m length and sampling var­i­ous wares, you could skip the next meal. One block north of Shijo-dori, be­tween Tera­machi-dori and Takakura-dori.

SEA­SON FI­NALE: Run by the same fam­ily for 11 gen­er­a­tions since 1718, Chi­moto of­fers a nine-course tra­di­tional kaiseki (mul­ti­ple dish) din­ner. As the Kamo River bub­bles past, a trio of ki­mono-clad at­ten­dants serves a cu­rated pro­ces­sion of lo­cal mas­ter­pieces. Ev­ery­thing is de­signed to bring the rel­e­vant sea­son to life. In­di­vid­ual china, cho­sen to com­ple­ment and en­hance the senses, comes from a col­lec­tion of more than 2000 cat­a­logued pieces. Ex­pect de­lights such as mat­su­take mush­room and sea urchin soup, bar­racuda and sweet prawn with egg­plant puree, and ginkgo and red bean sticky rice. Dur­ing sum­mer months (June 1Septem­ber 30) there’s also out­door river­side dining, weather per­mit­ting. Shijo Sa­garu Saiseki, Shi­m­o­gyo-ku; chi­


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