Posts for Tag: kyoto

Heading back to Tokyo - Tagoto @ The Cube

We headed back to Tokyo after our time in Kyoto. We'll miss the city, the food, and our friends. Of course we took the shinkansen again (love that JR Pass!).

Instead of doing bento on the train, we had time to grab lunch at Kyoto station. The station itself is massive. Imagine a large shopping mall attached to one of the busiest train exchanges in Japan. There were too many high quality restaurants to choose from so we just ended up going to a place that had a little of everything. Tagoto @ The Cube (the big department store in the station) mainly has soba but pairs it with other dishes. On the 11th floor of the building, it overlooks the Kyoto station below for an amazing view. We got one with unagi rice and another with sabazushi which is an older style of sushi with pickled mackerel wrapped in kombu. It was a simple and quick meal which was delicious. We boarded the train happy and satisfied for the ride back to Tokyo!

Nara Park - Deer - Maguro Koya

The main reason for our trip to Japan was for my daughter to see her favorite animal - DEERS! Nara Park was on her wish list for a while because it's where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of deer are allowed to roam free with no fear. We took the one hour train from Kyoto and made our way to the park. All the iconography in the city are deer related, including street signs, buses, and even manhole covers!

Once you enter the park, you are immediately swarmed by deer looking for you to feed them deer crackers (can be purchased from vendors throughout the park for 150 yen). It went from cute petting zoo to aggressive head butting quite quickly! For those who plan to take small kids, just be aware that these are wild animals and many are not docile. I was butted quite often when I had crackers in my hand and even nipped a couple of times. The deer will leave you alone if you don't have crackers so if you don't want the attention, just don't have any in your hand. With all that said, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience for us to be so close to the deer.

Aside from the deer, a big highlight of the park is the huge Buddha statue at the Todai-ji Temple. The temple itself is huge and beautiful. The large statue of the Buddha is a site to behold. Be sure to walk all the way around and see the statue from all angles.

On the way back to the train station, we stopped by a tuna restaurant called Maguro Koya. It's tucked in a side alley and looks completely unassuming from the outside. Inside, is no different with a simple setup for the husband and wife establishment. As the name suggests, they serve mainly tuna and it does not disappoint. We got meal sets of maguro, chutoro, and otoro. No fancy presentations, just sliced supremely high quality tuna served with miso soup and rice. If you are a tuna sashimi fan, this place will exceed expectations.

Breakfast at Komeda's Coffee

We're heading to Nara Park today and stopped at Komeda's Coffee for breakfast. Another favorite of ours for the egg salad sandwich. Have not been able to find an egg salad sandwich in the US that is as fluffy and delicate. Plus the fresh baked bread is outstanding. Perfectly toasted!

Izakaya - Kurakura

We are big fans of izakaya style restaurants and luckily got a great recommendation. Kurakura is a favorite of locals in downtown Kyoto. We came just as they opened and was able to get a table. Good thing because minutes later the place was packed with office workers coming in for happy hour. They had an extensive sake selection and our waitress was very helpful in choosing two different ones for us.

Next up, some grilled items. Two types of peppers (hot and mild), squid legs, and sweet onions. Each came with their own sauce and were delicious.

We then ordered some steamed enoki mushrooms cooked in butter with an egg inside. Simple and amazing. We followed that with yakitori, fresh tofu, chicken wings, anago wrapped in yuba, and chicken gizzards/kidneys. All perfectly cooked and just the right portion size as to not fill you up.

We ended the meal with omakase sashimi and yaki onigiri with fish roe on the inside. The quality of the sashimi was superb. Probably the same quality as most of the high end sushi restaurants in the Bay Area but in a neighborhood joint.

My daughter loves watching Miyazaki movies and there's a dish in one of her movies that she absolutely loves. It's fried aji but unfortunately aji wasn't available. We showed our waitress the image below and she was able to have the chef whip up an alternative - fried kisu. It was also amazing - two filets and the center bone portion fried up to perfection! The mayo that came with it was a great pairing.

Can't say enough about this place. The vibe is so authentic, the staff are so friendly and helpful (spoke great English!), and of course the food and drink are off the charts. This is now on the permanent list of places to hit when we're back in Kyoto.

Back to Yamazaki

Being in Kyoto, we were only a quick train ride away from the Yamazaki Distillery. Of course I had to return to get some whisky but this time I took the family. No kids allowed on the tour so we just went through the museum and walked the public grounds. You can see my post from last time for info on the tour.

We ended up in the tasting room where I got a chance to try 6 amazing pours, 4 of which are only available at the distillery. It should be noted that some of these bottles are thousands of dollars, but the pours were remarkably affordable. Each glass is a good amount more than a half pour and all 6 came to about $60. Too bad you are limited to 3 pours per person but it’s not a bar so fair enough.

Here’s the lineup:

12 Year Sherry Cask - Light with a subtle sweetness, like fruits.

17 Year Sherry Cask - Bold with deeper sweetness, like preserves or jams.

18 Year Hakushu - Peaty but very refined. I’m usually not a fan of peaty whisky but I’d be happy with this.

12 Year Mizunara - A different taste than standard Yamazaki 12. The Mizunara wood gives it a more fragrant flavor though very subtle.

17 Year Mizunara - In my previous post I said this was the best whisky I ever had. Trying it again doesn’t change my mind (yet). Deeper flavor from the Mizunara that I have yet to encounter from traditional whisky. Completely smooth and rich.

25 Year Yamazaki - This was the highlight, not surprisingly. If you love 18 Year Yamazaki, this takes it to another level. So smooth, deep flavor, dark chocolate with almost no sweetness. Smoke but no peat. Can’t say enough about this.