Ito is a Japanese restaurant located in front of Higashi Honganji Temple, near Kyoto Station. It opened in March 2019. This restaurant is not a kaiseki restaurant, but rather a course-style Japanese cuisine run by a chef with a French background, so you can enjoy Japanese food without feeling overwhelmed. It is recommended for first-time visitors to Kyoto and for those who are greedy and want to eat not only raw fish and vegetables but also Wagyu Japanese beef. Here is my report on the dinner I went to in May.
5 minutes walk from Kyoto Station's Central Ticket Gate.
There was no sign, so I accidentally walked past it... The atmosphere of a hideaway is exciting, like a restaurant for those in the know. As I entered through the wooden sliding door, the staff led me to the counter.
There are 8 seats at the 9m-long counter, and there is a private room on the second floor. It's great for family meals and dinners.
First, choose a drink. In addition to sake, there is a wide variety of champagne, wine, and craft gin, which is also popular in Japan. (Even a 17-year-old Japanese whiskey HIBIKI ...!)
I asked for a recommendation for "a refreshing sake" and was served a glass of "Reisen" from Gifu Prefecture, as suggested by the chef.
I was convinced that this is the best sake in the Reisen series. It was a delicious drink that had a pleasant yet refreshing aftertaste that kept me drinking it one after the other.
Chopsticks and a soup spoon were set on an "Oshiki" (lacquered wooden tray). I immediately noticed a hint of French. I was excited to see what it would be like.
Only one course is offered for both lunch and dinner.
Lunch is 11,000 yen and dinner is 25,000 yen (tax included).
For dinner, you must enter the restaurant between 17:50 and 17:55 because it starts all at once!
When all the guests have gathered, the chef gives a greeting at the start.
The dishes were immediately lined up on the counter, and the serving began.
The first item was a Chinese herbal consommé soup with tofu made from peas.
The soup, which promotes gastric activity thanks to the use of ingredients such as Chenpi dried citrus peel and ginger, is designed to make the upcoming dishes more delicious.
This was the presentation of the ingredients for the next dish.
From left to right: firefly squid from Toyama Prefecture, spring wild vegetables from Shiga Prefecture including cod sprouts, udo, and bamboo shoots.
As soon as the presentation was over, it was made into tempura in the kitchen and served right in front of you. Ito rarely prepares food in advance, therefore all the food was prepared right in front of you, so you can enjoy freshly cut and grilled food. What luxury...
The first tempura was cod sprouts.
The bean dish in the foreground is served with salt on the right. On the left is homemade yuzu kosho (paste of yuzu and chilli pepper).
Next up is firefly squid and udo.
Looking at it in this way, the batter looks like fritters. When you bite into the firefly squid, the miso pops into your mouth. Udo has a fresh, greenish aroma and bitter taste that is typical of wild vegetables.
Next is sashimi of wild sea bream and sea urchins from Wakayama.
The dish is topped with colorful, pesticide-free vegetables and "Tosa Vinegar", a mixture of Japanese dashi broth and vinegar. Only a chef with a French background could arrange sea bream, which is often served in Kyoto cuisine, in such a gorgeous way.
The fourth was a soup dish. It is the centrepiece of kaiseki cuisine. In contrast to the previous one, this is an orthodox dish.
Kyoto's famous yuba (bean curd) and white fish are wrapped in the best dashi broth. One sip will make you glad you are in Japan.
Next, back to sashimi again, this time with cuttlefish.
It was topped with caviar and drizzled with sea urchin soy sauce. The bowls were brightly colored and beautiful to look at.
Ito's style was to cook in front of me, so once one dish is served, the chef begins preparing the next dish.
Prepared on some kind of cutting board was a large tuna fillet!
Toro fatty parts were cut into pieces...!
I couldn't stop my heart from beating fast when I thought that I could eat that now. The live feeling of the counter seats was really fun.
The dish was served on a "makisu" bamboo mat, covered with a sheet of nori-dried seaweed and rolled up...
It was a sushi roll of medium toro fatty tuna.
Moreover, one side was lavishly topped with sea urchins. The sweet and sour ginger and cucumber were wrapped with the medium fatty tuna, giving it a delightful texture and a refreshing aftertaste.
The next presentation was abalone.
It was the perfect size and looked delicious. I wondered if I could eat all these high-end foods...
The abalone was mixed with rice and handed over by the chef as hand-rolled sushi. The sushi was freshly made, not even on a plate, and goes straight into my mouth one second after it is made. Communication with the chef is also a spice that makes the meal delicious.
The eighth was a palate cleanser.
The red soup was a mixture of beets, dashi broth and vinegar. Floating in the middle of it was the seaweed that looks like noodles. It is named "sea noodles" in Japanese. There are some interesting ingredients!
The ninth, main dish was a Wagyu beef thigh steak from Nagano Prefecture. Garnished with grilled bamboo shoots and morel mushrooms.
The condiment was unheated shichimi (a blend of seven spices), with a strong aroma of "sansho" Japanese pepper that goes well with the steak.
The rice was cooked with salmon bamboo shoots called "Tokishirazu". Salmon are usually in season in autumn, but Tokishirazu is a very valuable type of salmon that is caught from spring to early summer. Fluffy salmon and crunchy bamboo shoots were the perfect combination.
Pickles were homemade and the miso soup was made with black bean miso paste. Everything is carefully handmade without omission to the smallest detail.
Just when I thought this was the end...
Wagyu beef sukiyaki style was served! The sweet soy-based sauce and the raw egg made the rice go down a treat. I had a full second helping of rice.
The final dessert was homemade "Yomogi mochi" rice-flour dumplings with anko red bean paste, homemade "Anno" sweet potato ice cream, and strawberries. What a pleasure to be able to enjoy a few seasonal fruits, Japanese and Western confectioneries.
This was the dinner course at Ito!
Ito can be reserved using our concierge service.
|Miyabi[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|