We’ve always dreamt of trying Kaiseki ryori (aka Japanese fine dining)… So while we were doing our preparation for our trip to Kyoto, we were super excited to find out that Hotel Granvia Kyoto serves halal Kaiseki as well as bento sets at Ukihashi, the hotel’s Japanese restaurant!
Kaiseki ryori is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal which originated from 16th century tea ceremony rituals in Kyoto. It initially only involved simple meals served at the tea ceremony but has evolved to the elaborate dining style which you see today! The locals usually have Kaiseki ryori on special occasions and we’d like to think that for us, the special occasion is that we’ve travelled all the way to the city where it all started! 😛
As three-Michelin-star chef Yoshihiro Murata defines in his book “Kaiseki: The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant”,
“It is eating the seasons.”
If you were to have a Kaiseki meal every season, you’ll realize that it is a different experience each time as seasonal ingredients are specially picked and food is plated according to the seasons.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the multiple courses as you’ll notice that the food are delicately plated on small dishes so you’ll have room in your tummy to savour each course!
We began our meal with the seasonal tofu and we were surprised by the texture. It’s thicker, a little chewy (reminds us of mochi, actually), unlike the tofu we’re used to back home in Singapore.
The traditional soup served is seasonal and we were served a clear broth with mushroom and fish cake! Far from the highly processed fish cakes that we have back home, you can taste whole parts of the fish as the meat is slightly minced. Yum!
For this course, we had beef, mushrooms and vegetables grilled to perfection with seasoned butter. When the menu states grilled to perfection, they really mean it because this dish was soooo good! The sauce was sweet and buttery and complemented the food perfectly, especially the beef. In fact, we wished there was a bigger serving of the beef. Hands down our favourite course in the Kaiseki!
We had prawn and vegetable tempura served with light soy sauce for dipping and the batter was just right – light and really crispy!
We were served seasonal vegetables (tofu, pumpkin) and seafood (scallop, eel) in a Tajin pot, served with soy-vinegarette. The vegetables were fresh and sweet. Ordinarily, this dish would have been quite plain but the sauce added a whole new dimension to the dish!
Finally some carbo! We had seasoned rice with chicken, accompanied with clear soup. The rice was very lightly flavoured – the taste reminds us of rice steamed in bamboo! If you think this dish would be too bland, the mushroom and chicken bits in the rice will change your mind.
We ended our course with Anmitsu, a traditional Japanese dessert. There were sweet red beans, jelly and fruit served in a black sugar syrup. We were a bit skeptical of how these ingredients could go together but we were pleasantly surprised by this dessert! The fruits were sweet and mmm… we never say no to red bean!
We ordered two of the restaurant’s original drinks – the Hanaichigo and Hyouki with no expectations (we’ve had our fair share of artificial tasting mocktails…). The one word to describe these two drinks is harmonious. The blend of syrup, carbonated water and fruit juice was perfect, none of the ingredients was too overpowering. However, if you have a sweet tooth, skip the Hanaichigo as the drink is a little on the sour side. On the other hand, the Hyouki with its mix of apple vinegar, ginger and lemon was absolutely refreshing!
Although the halal Kaiseki course is on the high end at ¥8,300, we think it’s worth it as the cuisine is known for its meticulous preparation, beautiful presentation and high-quality ingredients! After travelling all the way to the city where it all started, we think this is a local authentic experience you can’t miss 😉
If you find the Kaiseki course a little pricey, Ukihashi also serves a halal bento set at ¥4,200.
Our favourite dish in the bento set was the soy-marinated Spanish mackerel, grilled to perfection of course! The Burdock wrapped in eel (bottom right of the bento box) was delicious too as we loved the contrasting texture of the crispy burdock against the tender texture of the eel.
Lunch: 11:30 – 15:00 (Last Order: 14:00)
Dinner: 17:00-22:00 (Last Order: 21:00)
Note: Do remember to make a reservation at least 3 days in advance through phone (075-342-5527) or their contact page.
About The Hotel
As Hotel Granvia Kyoto is a Muslim-friendly hotel, we wanted make a reservation there but our trip was a last minute one. So word of advice – book your accomodation early! The hotel is right above Kyoto Station, which is super convenient especially if you’re taking a train ride from Osaka or a Shinkansen from other cities.
Also, we found out that Hotel Granvia Kyoto is the first in the whole of western Japan and the second in Japan to have halal-certified meals! Ukihashi gained the official halal certificate from Malaysia Halal Corporation Co., Ltd. as of April 1, 2014, following in the footsteps of its Café Restaurant “Le Temps”, which was awarded the certificate in 2013.
So if you’re planning a trip to Kyoto, do make your reservation early!
Café Restaurant “Le Temps”
At the other halal-certified restaurant in Hotel Granvia Kyoto, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Choose from the bento box, beef steak with teriyaki sauce, grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce or the beef hamburger with fried potatoes 🙂 If you’re bringing your little ones along, there is a kids platter available as well. Find out more about the menu here.
Opening Hours: 6:30 – 24:00（Last Order: 23:30）
The halal menu is available at anytime between 11:00-15:00 and 17:00-21:00.
*Our meal was sponsored by Hotel Granvia Kyoto but our opinions are entirely our own, as always 🙂