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Travel to Kyoto: Roan Kikunoi Tasting Menu Review

BY Boon Koh
Published 1 January 2013

This is the first time on The London Insider that I’ve written about about something away from London, but out of all the restuarants I’ve been to on my travels, this one is probably the one to break the rule for.

Roan Kikunoi is a two Michelin star restaurant in Kyoto, and a sister restaurant of Kikunoi, also based in Kyoto, but holder of 3 Michelin stars. Both are owned by Yoshihiro Murata, who is both the owner and head chef of Kikunoi.

Roan Kikunoi is centrally located in Kyoto, very convenient for the Gion district, and is just a few minutes walk across the bridge from that area. Down a small side street, its easy to miss the entrance. Inside, the style is modern Japanese, and we were given seats by the counter, which was really good because we could watch all the chefs intricately prepare the dishes.

When we made our booking (very essential) about a month before, we had debated which kaiseki tasting menu we should go for. We chose to go during lunch, which is much cheaper than dinner – the kaiseki menus are Y4200, Y7350, and Y10500 versus Y13650 – Y18900 that you would have to pay for dinner! In the end, we decided that our budget couldn’t stretch to Y10500, and we went for the two cheapest options. When we were arrived we were delighted to find the printed kaiseki menus in English for us:

 

Y4200 Kaiseki Lunch Menu

Y7350 Kaiseki Lunch Menu

And here are the pictures of all the dishes from the meal:

 

As you can see, while both kaiseki menus were slightly different, there were some similar dishes too.  And there is a difference in the quantity and quality of ingredients in the Y7350 set menu!

Overall, Roan Kikunoi was probably the best meal I’d ever had. The service was great – the chefs were very attentive and quickly took away plates when you were done with a course and served the next one. The food was out of this world – traditional Japanese, but tasted out of this world and with some interesting touches like burdock tempura and chestnut chips. And as a delightful surprise, at the end of the meal, we were given a doggy bag! They made the rice with salmon roe in a massive stone pot, of which only less than half were served as part of the kaiseki meal. The kitchen made them into little rice balls, about 3 of them, and packed them up nicely for us to take away! You’ll never see that happen at another two Michelin star restaurant.

Absolutely the best meal we’d ever had. And great value for lunchtime too – you’ll easily pay double for this quality of Japanese food anywhere else in the world. If you’re visiting Kyoto and a big foodie, this should be on your list of restaurants to dine in during your trip.

Roan Kikunoi
Address: 118 Saito-cho, Shijo-sagaru, Kiyamachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 600-8012 (google maps)
Address (in Japanese): 〒600-8012, 京都市下京区木屋町通四条下る斉藤町118
Nearest subway station: Kawaramachi station
Telephone Number: 075-361-5580
Website: www.kikunoi.jp/english/store/roan/