Monday, January 28, 2019

** Traditional Kyoto Mountain Cuisine Dinner (Winter) at Miyamasou 美山荘, Kyoto JAPAN

Hoba Miso with Ginkgo

The meal at Miyamasou focused on offering Tsumigusa (“freshly picked”) cuisine. Within the deep forest of Kyoto mountain, you will be able to taste the local herbs and wild fish in a set of refined courses. The meal is delicious, unique, and I get to learn a lot about the local ingredients along the way.

Miyamasou is located deep in the northern mountain of Kyoto Prefecture, about 1.5 hour driving from the city of Kyoto. Due to its location, food primarily came from the nearby mountainous area based on seasons. This includes wild boar, river fish such as ayu (sweetfish), wild grown vegetables, herbs, and mushroom.

river nearby
Unlike breakfast, which requires an overnight stay at Miyamasou, lunch and dinner can be booked individually by itself. For me, I stayed overnight anyway because I wanted the full experience of dinner, lodging at the Ryokan, and breakfast.

Dining House

There are two types of dining that you can choose from:
1. Naguri Room: counter seating (western type) or
2. Main Room: the traditional way (food served on the tatami floor)

The nice thing about counter seating is that you can see how they prepare your food (Check out video at HERE)

Naguri Room: Counter Seating 
However, I chose the traditional Japanese dining at the main room. It's about time to enjoy a real Ryokan meal in the traditional Japanese way!

Before I start introducing the courses, I think you already realize the potential problems when dining in this traditional style on the floor... (Photo below) If you can't sit with your knee for 1-2 hours, or bent down constantly to reach your food, or your foot can't support your body weight, I think you should skip this traditional way of dining. So don't worry if you are not doing it the traditional style, either way, I think this meal will be amazing!

Main Room

The first course is Ginkgo nuts with miso cooked in a wild mountain leaf. The appetizer is a Gifu Prefecture specialty called 朴葉味噌 Hooba Miso, a seasonal winter dish that keeps your miso sizzling hot while still grilling on a mini clay stove called Shichirinしちりん / 七輪.

Hoba Miso with Ginkgo
It was great that owner offered a welcome sake! It's such a nice pairing with the sizzling hot miso ginkgo nuts! She would gently pour the sake while I was holding the red shallow sake cup. So far so good already....

Welcome sake 
Welcome sake served on a plate
Next, we have Homemade Tofu topped with Japanese mustard and smoked river trout (Iwana).

Homemade Tofu topped with Japanese mustard, smoked river trout (Iwana) and dipping sauce
Smoked river trout (Iwana) with grated radish
For Ryokan cuisine, there is always a Hassun 八寸 course, which is a box that fills with a mixture of seasonal food. Here, we have Sweet potato (upper left), 3 day cured miso egg yolk (upper right), river shrimp, shiitake mushroom (Bottom right), dried ayu (underneat), water chestnut (center bottom), fried konnyaku, pancake(left). I love the cured miso egg yolk, the intense savory flavor makes it so delicious! It reminds me of the salt-cured duck egg yolk from Chinese cuisine.

Hassun 八寸
The local mountain region actually has wild boar イノシシ. Sadly, I learn it from our next course, Braised Mountain wild boar. The dish pairs with Ebi-imo 海老芋, a variety of locally grown Kyoto taro, literally means shrimp taro.

Braised Mountain wild boar
Next we have Crab egg wrapped in a thin slice of radish. It was served with a tiny bit of black ginger paste! It was given in a small amount for a reason. The spicy dense ginger paste has an intense taste, just a little bit provides lots of flavor already!

Crab egg wrapped in a radish slice, serve with black ginger paste!
Of course, for winter, we got to have a Nabe (hot pot)! The dish comes with a piping hot sea bream (Tai) fish soup, turnip, Namaitake mushroom, and topped with aromatic Yuzu citrus zest. The soup is so heartwarming. Sea bream meat is soft and delicate. Yuzu makes this nabe dish so much more refreshing and exciting.

Tai (sea bream) fish soup, turnip, Namaitake mushroom, topped with Yuzu zest.
Here we have another really cool dish that's cooked in bamboo skin! Inside you will find Miso carp from local lake. (Lake Biwa) What's even more impressive is you get to enjoy the fish dish with their customized pair of chopsticks? It's such a traditional yet fancy way to eat this course! \ > v < /

Carp from Lake Biwa (marinated in Miso), shiitake mushroom, and herbs cooked in bamboo skin.
Carp from Lake Biwa (marinated in miso), shiitake mushroom, and herbs cooked in bamboo skin.
Daikon is one of my favorite root vegetable. Although it is simply boiled, the sweet daikon juice and savory unagi miso tastes so good together!

Boiled daikon, unagi miso, kinome leaf
When you see a rice dish, that means it's almost the end of the meal. T_T Here we have a pot of steamed rice cooked with Gobo roots, Kanpyo, and mushrooms. Server will scoop the rice one by one into a nice little ceramic bowl along with some pickles.

Gohan (rice) cooked with Gobo root, kanpyo, mushroom, and topped with sesame seeds.
Rice served with pickles
Last but not least, what we have for dessert is tea ice cream topped with wild berries and a dried whole Persimmon on the right!

Tea ice cream topped with wild berries + Dried whole Persimmon on the right

This meal is one of the most unforgettable meals I had in the last 3 years traveling to Japan. I found each course very interesting and there's always something to learn. While you might think traditional Japanese mountain cuisine will probably be primitive and unrefined, this meal changed my perspective.

With the advantages of handpicking local ingredients in the deep Kyoto mountains, this meal is trying to tell a story about their winter lifestyle by carefully executing each course with elegance and balance. I am looking forward to return to Miyamasou for another great story in Spring or Summer!


For Ryokan experience at Miyamasou, learn more at HERE.
For breakfast, make sure to read my review at HERE.

Miyamasou 美山荘


Phone: +81 75-746-0231


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