Sugared & Spiced

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[Tokyo] Ichiyuu 一遊

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Ichiyuu 一遊

Add: 神奈川県足柄下郡箱根町仙石原837
Tel: 0120-016-213
Price: approx. ¥8,000/set
Website: viala.harvestclub.com/restaurant/index.html
Visited: Jan 2011

Side tripping to Hakone, a famous onsen (hot spring) town about 1 hour away from Tokyo. With the help of a friend, we were able to stay at a membership-based onsen resort called Tokyu Harvest Club Viala 箱根翡翠, which not only offers a most relaxing venue for onsen, but also amazing cuisine.

Not wanting to over-stuff ourselves after a nice onsen bath, we chose the small 7-course kaiseiki set. Here’s the menu:

Choose your own sake cup.

The appetizer was a trio of tidbits. My favorite with the Botan shrimp with caviar, a decadent combination of plump sweet shrimp with caviar. The intensely flavorful dried mullet roe was also quite memorable, and the circular disk made from paper-thin daikon slices was especially impressive.

Botan shrimp with caviar, karasumi (dried mullet roe), sea bream with daikon and vegetable.

Next on the table was a heart-warming bowl of duck soup with chestnut gluten cake, mizuna, and yuzu pepper. The soup was thickened to an almost gooey consistency, and sparked with some yuzu pepper. The chestnut gluten cake (栗麩) had an interesting texture that was like nothing I’ve tasted before. The closest I can think of is probably fish tofu, but it was softer, less chewy, and had a mildly sour taste.

The sashimi dish was beautifully plated. A stalk of purple flower leaned softly on two pieces of transluscent white squid, a curl of lemon peel perched on top of a pale sliver of mackerel while a flower-shaped carrot rested on its side, and two slices of beautiful pink-colored toro (tuna belly) were left to shine on their own. All these were placed on a sunny bright yellow elongated plate that would brighten up even the sourest moods.

The grilled cod fish, served with a sweetened chestnut and a impressively sliced daikon pickle, was plump and juicy.

What I remember most about the sea bream stew was actually the vegetables – green onions, mountain yam, carrots, Chinese mushroom – all fresh and full of natural sweetness.

The 10 grain rice finale was everything I love about Japanese rice – plump texture and unique stickiness, perfect with the accompanying pickles and miso soup. I finished the whole bowl, picking up even the last grain.

Desserts were not so memorable. Anmitsu, almond mousse cake, and chocolate cake.

A relaxing and rejuvenating onsen bath followed with a deliciously comforting dinner…what more can you ask for?

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Written by sugarednspiced

January 29th, 2011 at 5:37 am