Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

6. Kyo-Ryori

A waitress in kimono kneels on the tatami mat floor and silently begins placing a dozen or so small, yet picture-perfect dishes on the low dining table. Among the subtle favors and seasonal tones are a clear soup garnished with a sprig of green sanshou, slices of raw sea bream and tuna specked with tiny, delicate yellow flowers, and a simmering silver pot of off-white soy milk and tofu. Japanese cuisine doesn't get more refined than Kyo-ryori, or "Kyoto cuisine." For a quintessential Kyo-ryori experience, head to Gion and the 100-year-old Minokou restaurant, where they do an 11-course Kyo-ryori dinner for ¥15,600, as well as lunchtime sampler sets presented in shiny lacquer ware bento boxes for ¥4,000. Alternatively, try the equally traditional Kinobu, where they have a seven-course dinner for ¥12,000 and a ¥4,200 lunchtime sampler.