Uwosue 京都 うをすえ
Ayakōji-dōri Shimogyō-ku Higashinotōin Higashi iru, Shinmei-chō 724
075 351 1437

Kaseiki is like a degustation, multicourse dinner Japanese style.  What’s different between kaiseki and the Westernised degustation is that you won’t feel so full that you can barely walk out.  And unlike a degustation, you won’t be sitting on your arse in pain for four hours.  A 6-8 course kaiseki will probably be done in about 1.5- 2hrs.  Not that they are rushing you, the dishes are evenly spaced out and you would normally eat at a comfortable pace.

Kaiseki, like any fantastic high class restaurants, treasures the freshest seasonal produce.   It’s Spring, so there would be the tender bamboo shoots, sancho peppers and who can forget those cherry blossoms in Japan?

Due to limited budget, we decided to try a relatively cheap kaiseki place named Uwosue (or as Lonely Planet seemed to call it, Uosue) which has very very good reviews.  It’s actually not that hard to find but below is a map for you.  It’s really just the next street from the huge department store named Daimaru.

The best place to sit at a kaiseki place is in front of the counter so you can interact with the chef and see what he does.  Unfortunately because we are a party of five, we were seated in a big private room all by ourselves, which is fine by us also.

We ordered the 5 course set menu that costs about $40.  Our first course is a bowl of young tender bamboo shoot marinated with creamy Japanese herbs.  I thought it was lovely that the bamboo was marinated, just to make it a little bit different and the creamy herb sauce is actually very refreshing.   We tried to find out what this Japanese herb is, because it tasted a tiny a little bit like sancho but the flavour was less pronounced.  The waitress kindly found out that it’s something called Kinome.  I googled what Kinome and found out that Kinome is a plant leaf with minty flavour, hence the refreshing flavour.  The berries of this Kinome plant is used to make Sancho, so that’s why it tasted a teeny tiny bit like sancho.  Aha!  Mystery solved!  Thanks Gourmet Sleuth!

We got super fresh sashimi w japanese taro and shiso.  Sashimi of baby squid, tuna and yellow tail was soooooo good.  The baby squid has some sort of stuffing inside which was really interesting and the freshly grated wasabi made all the difference.

Since it WAS the Cherry Blossom season we gotta have some cherry blossom flavoured dish.  This beautifully steamed bundle of rice is flavoured with cherry blossom and wrapped in cherry blossom leaf, hence the beautiful blushing hue.  To be very honest I can’t actually decipher the flavour of cherry blossom, I just found the rice slightly sweet and the clear soup is quite thick and a little bit salty to balance the flavours.

Tempura is our second last dish of the night, and even though I don’t normally like prawns it was so fresh and tasty that I ate both of them.  The accompanying vegetable includes lotus root, eggplant and pepper.  I find the tempura slightly oily but still tasted awesome.

Grilled mackerel is last.  The mackerel is lightly brushed with miso so it’s quite similar to Nobu’s Miso Black Cod, however as mackerel is very firm and has a slightly fishy taste, no one on our table like it very much.

Overall, I love the food in Uwosue.  Some things I have never tasted before, but that why it’s so exciting.  The service was just so efficient and polite and the waitress even went out of her way to write us the menu in English and when we leave, walked us out the front door.  In my opinion the only two disappointment was the fish and that they didn’t offer us dessert, not even fruit, so it just wasn’t a perfect ending to the night.  8.5/10

For a round up of where I went and what I ate in Japan, please click here