Salon de Muge – The Café of World-class Kyoto Kaiseki Restaurant Kikunoi
Salon de Muge is a café owned and operated by world-class Kyoryori/Kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi.
Salon de Muge was first opened by Kikunoi as a place for them to offer their high-quality dishes in a less formal setting. As a result, Salon de Muge has a slightly more approachable casual atmosphere than Kikunoi’s other locations.
However, no matter how casual it may be, Salon de Muge is still Kikunoi through and through. The famous Michelin starred restaurant put their best foot forward with this cafe and made sure that everything, from the quality of the food and service to the ambiance and design of the space, was genuine and the real deal.
The name Salon de Muge uses two characters “無碍” (muge) which refer to the idea of “Thoughts and actions without obstruction and obsession.”
The sentiment held within these two characters can be seen and felt throughout the café.
An excellent example of this is the floor tiles. When you first step inside, your eyes are immediately drawn to the magnificent windows supplying views of the wonderfully Kyoto moss garden. However, as you look around, your eyes are then brought to the beautiful tiles that cover the floors. These unique tiles are made the Japanese pottery known as Oribe ware. Such original and unrestrained ideas as using pottery, which is typically reserved for teacups and plates, as floor tiles imply exactly the kind of aesthetic sense that defines Kikunoi.
Another aspect of Salon de Muge teeming with the feeling of Kikunoi is their customer service.
The staff work to serve each and every customer as individuals and actively avoid lumping people together. It’s precisely because Salon de Muge considers such a high level of service an absolute must, that their customers are able to enjoy their meals in such comfort.
We highly recommend going to Salon de Muge at least once and experiencing the affectionately prepared food, incredibly well-designed space and caring customer service of this world-class café for yourself.
Shigure-meshi Box Lunch (reservation required) *All food and tableware change seasonally.
/ ￥5,000 (Inc. Tax)
The Shigure-meshi Box Lunch contains a combination of dishes from Kaiseki cuisine, including a beautiful arrangement of sashimi called "Otsukuri,” sea, mountain and village themed appetizers called "Kuchitori" and "Kou-no-mono" pickled vegetables.
When you have a Kaiseki course, each dish is presented one at a time. However, as this is a “boxed lunch,” the main is served together with the side dishes and appetizers.
The contents of the bento are written in the English menu, so please take a look to see the specific names and ingredients in each dish.
As Kaiseki cuisine places a large importance on feeling relevant to the season, this bento, as well, uses as many seasonal ingredients as possible, together wtih tableware designed to reflect Japan's four seasons.
If you try this boxed lunch, make sure to pay attention to the specific aspects that make it unique to the season you're enjoying it in.
Rich Green Tea Parfait
/ Parfait: ¥1,300 (Inc. Tax) / Set: ¥2,000 (Inc. Tax)
This gorgeous parfait features a stack of two large scoops of matcha ice cream that don’t skimp on high-quality rich green tea.
Apparently, the matcha ice cream used is made with four times the amount of green tea used in Salon de Muge’s actual matcha drinks. And it shows.
The moment the ice cream touches your tongue, it’s like a sea of intensely strong matcha has washed through your mouth.
In order for customers to enjoy the unadulterated flavors of the matcha, Salon de Muge purposefully kept the contents of the parfait simple. This means that you’ll only find small mochi dumplings, matcha jelly, red bean paste and bits of castella cake.
More than anything this parfait packs an intense matcha punch and is perfect for those who enjoy the mild bitterness of this world-renowned powdered green tea.
Freshly Made Warabimochi *pictured is the warabimochi & matcha set
/ Warabimochi: ¥1,300 (Inc. Tax) / Set: ¥2,000 (Inc. Tax)
Warabimochi is a jiggly and fun to eat Japanese dessert made by grinding the warabi (bracken) plant into powder and kneading it to have a mochi-like texture.
As actual ground warabi has become a scarce ingredient in recent years, the regular warabimochi you encounter will most likely be made out of some sort of starch or other ingredient. However, it’s precisely for this reason why Salon de Muge is so particular about making their warabimochi with 100 percent warabi powder.
The use of pure warabi gives this warabimochi the unique texture and color only achievable by the real deal.
Typically, restaurants serve their warabimochi cold; however, as Salon de Muge only knead the warabi once an order has been placed, what you get is not only fresh but also warm.
The warabimochi itself doesn’t have any flavor, so you should eat it with either the brown sugar syrup or ground roast soybean powder known as kinako provided.
Tarte Tatin a la Kikunoi with baked apple and ginger ice cream *pictured is the Tarte Tatin & Dried Fruit Tea set
/ Tarte Tatin: ¥1,000 (Inc. Tax) / Set: ¥1,700 (Inc. Tax)
This bewitching Tarte Tatin draws you in with its gorgeous appearance, then wallops you with an intense appley flavor. Salon de Muge packs so many apples into this Tarte Tatin that one slice contains more than an entire apple. Because of this, its both refreshingly fruity and intensely appley.
Accompanying the Tarte Tatin is an unusual ginger-candy ice cream. The ice cream is speckled with little bits of candy packed with a unique gingery flavor. When eaten together, the flavors of the ginger work to draw out the natural acidity of the apples in the Tarte Tatin.
Although Tarte Tatin is traditionally a Western dessert, Kikunoi has very skillfully given it Japanese spin and really made it their own with the addition of historically Japanese ingredients such as the ginger in the ice cream and the soy sauce in the sauce.