Kinkakuji and Izakaya in Kyoto

kinkakujiMy mother and I were off to Kyoto for a much-needed relaxation. The last few days in Chiba required us to take care of some business and fulfill family obligation so we were definitely looking forward to spending the stress-free week in the cultural and culinary capitol of Japan. We stayed at my other aunt and uncle’s house (my mother’s sister), located in the middle of all the historical action of the city. It was very strange to walk on the streets of Kyoto and find Seven Eleven sitting right next to a 1,000-year-old castle!

Our fist stop was to visit Kinkakuji, a gold covered, pimped out temple built in 1397 known as “Golden Pavilion Temple.” I was still very young when I was here last so it gave me the different perspective and a greater appreciation for this breathtaking piece of history.

green-teaMy mother, my aunt and I stopped at a tea shop and enjoyed a real matcha tea at Kinkakuji. Unlike the green tea Frappacino many of us are accustomed to, the traditional kind is very rich and bitter which is why it is usually enjoyed with a small piece of Japanese sweet. It was a perfect place to enjoy the scenery (people-watching in Japan is so much fun!) and rest our tired feet from walking around the temple.

After we got home and rested a little more, the family took us to a neighborhood izakaya called Sou for dinner. It was a traditional izakaya, the Japanese style tapas that offer small individual dishes, but all the waiters were all young, modern and very good looking. But what took center stage this night was not the hot waiters but the wonderful conversation with sweet Aunt Shigeko and Uncle Toru, my lovely cousin Chiaki and her charming husband Toshio and my partner-in-crime mother. Food, however, was a close second. Just take a look!

sou-tofu

Appetizer

sou-sashimi

The sashimi platter

sou-tempura

Crisp assorted tempura

sou-eggplant

Eggplant dengaku (miso sauce)

sou-dobinmushi

This is a dish called, “dobinmushi.”  Inside are incredibly aromatic matsutake mushrooms and other seasonal ingredients swimming in simple broth. You drink the broth and eat everything else.

sou-egg

Egg filled with cooked anago (saltwater eel)

sou-karaage1

Chicken karaage

sou-cabbage

Rolled cabbage (ground beef wrapped in cabbage leaves, simmered in special ketchup-based sauce)

sou-rice

All dinner ends with some kind of rice dish. This is how the rice came in!

sou-shirasu-rice

Rice with shirasu and umeboshi

sou-rice-umeboshi

This is how it looks when served

sou-salmon-rice1

Rice with salmon

sou-salmon-rice-bowl

Rice with salmon, with salmon roe on top

sou-green-tea-ice-cream

Green tea ice cream with fried gyuhi (textured like mochi)

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