Southeast Kyoto Tour of Tofukuji, Uji & Fushimi Inari on 17 & 18May2013

Fushimi Inari -1000 torii gates 鸟居

Fushimi Inari -1000 torii gates 鸟居

arrived Kansai Airport 6am on 17.5.2013.

there was no queue at immigration and no queue at JR (Japan Rail) office, and we managed to get the 4000yen “Haruka & Icoca RETURN” which comprised RETURN tickets by Haruka Express between Kansai Airport & Kyoto & an Icoca card with 1500yen store-value and 500yen refundable deposit. 🙂

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we bought some burger & salad & got on the 7.27am Haruka Express No 4 for a 90mins journey and arrived Kyoto station at 9am. 🙂

Umeda Sky building at Osaka 173m 40 floors built in 1993

Umeda Sky building at Osaka 173m 40 floors built in 1993

passing Osaka on Haruka Express we saw Umeda Sky building, 1 of Osaka’s 2 famous tall buildings. 🙂

370yen kitsune soba

370yen kitsune soba

there was a soba shop at the station so we shared a 290yen soba + 90yen kitsune (a Japanese fried tofu). 🙂 then we took the Karasuma subway line 1-stop to Gojo.

our hotel Citadines Gojo was located a few steps (like 20m) from Gojo station – so access wise for arrival & departure, it was really convenient. 🙂 for comparison, Karasuma Shijo hotel would be more convenient as it was similarly located at the doorstep of Shijo station on Karasuma subway line, and you can also walk to Daimaru, Takashimaya, Nishiki market, Teramachi, Kawaramachi, Kamogawa etc. however if your plan is to get the subway 600yen Subway Card (for unlimited travel on Karasuma line & Tozai line) anyway as we did for 2 days, then it makes little difference. 🙂

seemed that Citadines Japan credit card machine did not allow for card guarantee. I made the front desk call my Singapore credit card hotline, and was told that the transaction showed up as a wrong security number entry. I then asked the front desk to charge my card instead of just doing a card guarantee, and this time the card transaction went through. this was really strange experience but well we were not in a hurry & it was happily settled. 🙂

it was too early to check in Citadines so we left our luggage & set off for the Everytrail Southeast Kyoto tour of Tokufuji (东福寺), Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷) & Uji (宇治). 🙂

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torii gate at road junction on way to Byodo-in 平等院 temple in Uji (宇治)

we made our way first to Tokufuji (东福寺) 140yen by JR Nara line from Kyoto stations. next we went to Uji (宇治) 230yen by JR Nara line. 🙂

there was a bit more to see at Uji than Tofukuji. still I did not take good photos at both places. also the Pheonix Hall at Byodo-in was under renovation. we did walk through Byodo-in’s garden & museum, and also saw the Ujigami shrine & Uji shrine. the weather was hot & we were a bit tired & decided to skip Fushimi Inari & return to Kyoto.

On way back to JR Uji station, we found & shared a nice 1580yen set at a 中华料理. & later in the evening after checking in to our hotel room, we walked to Shijo & Kawaramachi & found a nice little family styled izakaya 居酒屋 called 百练near the junction of Shijo & Kawaramachi where we had nice beef teishoku & pork shabu shabu. all this were recorded in the post Great Affordable Eats @ Kyoto.

On Day 2, we slept late but were all ready for our most wonderful teppanyaki course lunch at Gozanbo (五山望) at 15flr of Hotel Granvia at Kyoto Station. I had arranged this with the head chef Yoshio Doi-san & he had kindly made arrangements even though he was on home leave then.

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we had some time before lunch so I brought my sis to the 8th floor Ramen Village at Daimaru building at Kyoto Station west side. On the 9th floor, you can look down at Kyoto Station (above left photo).

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skybridge linking the west & east buildings at Kyoto Station

There was also a skybridge linking the west & east buildings at Kyoto Station (some might have missed this) that could be accessed from the 8th floor Ramen Village & you could get a great view of Kyoto Tower (above centre photo). On our way to Gozanbo, we took a photo from the 3M level connecting passage just above Kyoto Station central exit (above right photo).

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Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷)

we set off to Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷) 140yen by JR Nara line to Inari 稲荷 station. The first torii gate entrance was right by the station. we each grabbed a tea from a grocery, ready for the 2 hr walk. 🙂

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each torii gate was donated by a corporation or individual

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each of the 1000s torii gate was donated by a corporation or individual & their names were written on the side viewed downhill direction – that kind of acted as our direction guide…haha. 🙂

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Fushimi Inari picture map

Mount Inari is 233m high & the whole walk took 2hrs.

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at the top of Fushimi Inari @ 一峰

somewhat long way up but anyhow we made it to the top @ 一峰.

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kannon (观音) at the bottom near exit of Fushimi Inari

on the way down at the bottom near the exit, we found this kannon (观音) and took some photos.

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bbq quail @ Inari

my sis wanted to eat bbq quail – she was fearless (of bird flu) when it came to food adventures..haha. 🙂

we took a short walk to see the streets in Inari, crossing the JR Nara railway line & arriving at Keihan Inari station.

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here we took Keihan line to  Keihan sanjo (三条) station and walked over the bridge for a view of Kamogawa (鸭川).

then we walked down Kawaramachi and had a great kuroge wagyu shabu shabu & sukiyaki dinner at kashin 花心. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Teppanyaki Course Lunch @ Gozanbo Hotel Granvia Kyoto Station on 18May2013

teppan Japanese beef (国产牛) tenderloin

teppan Japanese beef (国产牛) tenderloin

Gozanbo 五山望 @ HOTEL GRANVIA KYOTO remains my best non-kaiseki teppanyaki course lunch restaurant in Japan since we first had our teppan lunch there in 2008 while staying at Granvia. 🙂

The view is excellent of course looking out over Kyoto Tower & cityscape and at the surrounding mountains. the service is always impeccable & the courses & plating (like the creamy soup, appetizer & teppan fish dishes) have good european influence. the teppan beef of course is totally great Japanese taste. 🙂

every time we visited Kyoto I made sure we had a lunch at Gozanbo. my wife & daughter did recently & I had lunch there with my sister yesterday. 🙂 we had the 400o yen & 6000 yen set.

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I just loved the garlic. really “shiok”! I tried it at home quite successfully once with butter & sea salt. I think I am going to do this for my friends next dinner, together with wagyu steak. 🙂 always like their bread roll (like a baguette) toasted on the teppan.

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our starter was a tofu dish with wasabi & some sauce – nice!

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the 6000 yen set came with poached anago (conger eel) topped with an “ice cream”of blue cheese. I love blue cheese! this was pretty & taste was good, plating was like any French restaurant – so looked nice tasted good. but I not sure about this – think the usual grilled sushi or sashimi anago would be much better taste experience. 🙂

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the 4000 yen set came with a seabass sashimi with some sauce & leek garnishing. this was very nice – maybe I just like sashimi FULLSTOP!

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we both had a creamy white bean soup with tomato foam (this tasted really good!) and a nice refreshing yasai(野菜) salad.

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the 4000 yen set came with a teppan tai (sea bream)…the young chef did this really well – the fish, the skin & the french beans. 🙂

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the 6000 yen set came with a teppan prawn & asparagus & topped with an onsen egg – very much like modern european fine dining. the egg added a great combination of texture to a very tasty dish! 🙂

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here you see the young chef at work on our teppan Japanese beef. the head chef Doi-san whom we knew was away on home vacation, but anyway he made arrangements for our prior lunch booking. 🙂

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teppan kuroge wagyu 黑毛和牛

according to the menu, the 4000 yen set came with 80g  japanese beef tenderloin (国产牛) and the 6000 yen set had specially selected 和牛 (which should be kuroge 黑毛和牛) but a smaller 60g portion; BUT translation had always been notorious! the smaller beef from the 6000 yen set did not taste anything like kuroge wagyu. it was indeed more tender but the larger beef from the 4000 yen set seemed more marbled and tasty!

whatever – both were good but considering the price 6000 yen vs 4000 yen and the quality of the end result, I would say the 4000 yen was extremely good value (previously this was priced at 3500 yen however that was the time when the yen was 100yen to S$1.6 to S$1.7, but it is 100 yen to S$1.235 now!).

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the chef served us both with kamameshi (釜飯) instead of plain rice for the 4000 yen set. I was never quite a fan of this. it did come with 4 tasty pieces of bonito and was quite nice really. 🙂

cake & sorbet dessert

cake & sorbet dessert

we had a nice cake & sorbet for dessert and ended lunch with an all satisfying brewed coffee (good!). usually we would adjourn to an area for after-meal coffee (remember Gozanbo offers great views of Kyoto city!) but this time they said it was full. when I paid the bill I saw that the dessert area was in fact completely empty so perhaps they did not want to open up the section – fair enough I guess! if they closed the section, they need not open it just for me.

c.h.e.f andy