Yasaka Endo (Kyoto)
About half a year ago, you could read the first part of my series about my trip to Japan in April earlier this year. A very short lived series you might think thanks to the lack of updates on this blog. I have plenty of pictures, but just didn’t really feel like writing… And since I’m doing this purely as a hobby, I wasn’t going to force myself to do so.
But no worries, (at least for now) I’m back!
So without further ado:
After a couple of days of Tokyo, we went to Kyoto for some mandatory culture. Which of course included more food.
Japan features some Michelin-starred tempura restaurants, which sparked our interest. We definitely had to see and taste what that’s like. In the second week of our trip, we would be visiting one with 2 stars in Tokyo: Kondo. But to have some frame of reference, we kicked off our deep fried adventures with Yasaka Endo in the Gion district in Kyoto.
A bit expensive, but we got a private “traditional” room including a super friendly hostess to help us out with our degustation menu of tempura.
Let’s get things going, shall we?
The first of many attempts to make us like tofu (spoiler alert: most of them were unsuccessful) was actually the best one. But is says enough that you need to add uni, caviar & soy sauce to hopefully forget about what’s underneath in order to make tofu taste good.
As you can see, the batter of the tempura was pretty thin. And that’s how it’s supposed to be: deep frying to cook the product, with a crispy layer on the outside that never dominates the other flavors.
Our drink of choice: sake! Having wine (regular “western-style” wine that is, because sake is also wine) with your food seemed to be less common in Japan… The locals were mostly having either beer or sake. And who are we to argue with that?
After all this fried food, it was time for something lighter: a refreshing salad:
I used to think you can make anything taste good by either adding bacon or by deep frying it (or both!). Let’s just forget about tofu, ok?
Having pickled vegetables at some point during your dinner seems to be the way to go in Japan. Also called tsukemono, this course serves a clear purpose: to cleanse the palate and provide piquancy to counter the heaviness of umami-rich foods. Or at least that’s what I read here.
In case we were still hungry, next course was a rice bowl coming in a variety of options. I picked ‘Tendon’ which was served topped with some more shrimp tempura.
One of my friends picked a rice bowl that ended up being some kind of soup, which made it a bit less easy to eat. Good thing we had some help:
In April, the cherry blossom trees (= Sakura) in Japan are blooming and most restaurants want to grab this opportunity by serving you at least 1 sakura-flavored item. Might be nice the first time, but gets a little boring when everyone is doing it.
The meal hads some ups and downs, but overall it was a very nice experience and a good introduction to the better tempura restaurants out there.
Tempura Endo Yasaka
This post is part of my Japan Trip 2014 series, check out all of them over here.