2 main attractions of staying in japanese ryokans are (1) the sumptuous kaiseki dinner & breakfast (2) the onsen.
of course, guests have also come to have high expectation of the service, basically the entire experience of ryokan stay. 🙂
it was literally like staying in “shangri-la”, divine scenery no less, at least that was the cherished memories. ^^ there i had my first taste of kuroge wagyu, the true 黑毛和牛. 🙂
don’t know how long ago was that, maybe 10yrs now?
the best ryokan experience over the whole holiday stays was undoubtedly in tohoku in 2010, just before it was ravaged by tsunami & nuclear fallout in 2011. how sad!
food wise though, the more recent ryokans impressed much less.
- <partly also because Singapore’s food standards (including some japanese restaurants here) have gone very much higher, comparable to the best worldwide.>
shikisai has a nice large dining hall, on basement level, overlooking nature & trees.
shikisai is not a cheaper range ryokan, so we were expecting a sumptuous kaiseki.
the kaiseki menu looked like a long menu, but it actually was not. in fact it was quite a small menu c/w many kaiseki dinners we had at many different ryokans in tohoku (say).
wife ordered a sake.
at first she asked for a smaller sake as i do not drink.
the server came with sake in a glass full of ice.
we take sake chilled yes, in ice i never seen that before??? must be something lost in translation. anyway we rejected it & wife got a 300ml junmai. the sake was good, expensive i think 1800yen but good. 🙂
the sakizuke(先附) had 5 items. they were pretty good but not outstanding.
grilled saury was good.
the shimkeji mushrooms with ikura quite appetising too.
marinated mussels so so.
the duck egg was excellent, not salty, not strong gamey, quite nice flavour & great texture.
the chestnut was just chestnut, nice. the “sea urchin” shell was some cracker thing, much like deep-fried spaghetti type of nice bites.
the soup was good, tasty. gluten was good too.
it was not the standard of a good dobin mushi, but much better than any gohan soup, miso or clear soup.
the sashimi dish was good quality, with a small botan ebi, chutoro & what maybe sawara (spanish mackerel).
sashimi was very fresh, sweet, quite excellent.
after sashimi, we had tochigi wagyu.
i think it’s a 国产牛，not the standard of kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛.
but even as 国产牛, the quality was quite average. still nice, a bit beefy for wife, and the method of cooking was a bit like steaming & not pan-grilled or bbq. so maybe that suited this beef which may not be a top marbled wagyu.
we had a yuba dish, served in soya bean drink & served with dipping sauce.
a simple dish, but importantly it was nice.
the steamed dish of uni with gluten was average or poor, as the uni is the dry hard type not the sweet, fresh, melt in the mouth, exploding flavours variety.
the plain zaru soba ought not be served. it was hard, uncooked inedible, and had no place in a kaiseki.
as i recorded on my FB, the soba served on ANA airline packaged meal was very much better. the noodles were normal qq & the soba sauce was tasty. THIS???
even a plain rice gohan set would be better.
the creme brulee combo dessert was competent.
maybe ryokan these days try to cater for wider taste, and throw in some western stuff. this was competent so nothing to complain. i guess actually more luxurious than just some red bean dessert or a plum jelly.
overall the kaiseki was a huge disappointment. very meagre by kaiseki standards, hardly anything other than a decent appetizer, excellent sashimi, average beef, no fish, no broiled dish, no braised dish etc.
ok, not sumptuous is one thing, not being luxurious or top ingredients, but more importantly taste. this kaiseki could not even said to be scrumptious. maybe just excellent sashimi & a few competent dishes!
fortunately the second night dinner at shikisai was better. tell that story later la…