Nice Ryokan Stay @ Gettoan Ryokan月灯庵 Yufuin汤布院 Kyushu 九州 25-27Feb2015

Gettoan ryokan bridge

Gettoan ryokan bridge

except for the appalling kaiseki dinner on 25.1.2015, which was a complete disaster & a blot on an otherwise excellent stay, we were quite happy with the ryokan

we stayed at Gettoan ryokan from 25Jan to 27Jan2015. 🙂

ryokan is a bit secluded & way off from the main attractions like lake kinrinko 金麟湖, which is a 30minutes walk from yufuin eki (train station), along the shopping street yunotsubo.

there is also no walking trails near the ryokan.

we called the ryokan after the check-in time 3pm & they picked us up from yufuin eki, also the hotel provide transport to town (they dropped us directly at lake kinrinko the next day at our request & provided us each with an umbrella), but not the return pick-up.

macha & sweets at Gettoan ryokan room

macha & sweets at Gettoan ryokan room

yuzu sweets at Gettoan ryokan room

yuzu sweets at Gettoan ryokan room

the service was good ryokan standard.

we had a reception party, & we had welcome macha & sweets etc in the ryokan room.

connecting walkway ryokan living room to bedroom & onsen

connecting walkway ryokan living room to bedroom & onsen

ryokan attached onset

ryokan attached onsen

our room had an attached external onsen.

ryokan private yu汤

ryokan private yu汤

ryokan private yu汤

ryokan private yu汤

& the ryokan has the usual public & very nice private onsen.

free mochi at ryokan lounge

free mochi at ryokan lounge

free macha, coffee & mochi at ryokan lounge

free macha, coffee & mochi at ryokan lounge

there was also free coffee & tea at the lounge area.

on the second day 26.1.2015, we returned from lunch & lake kinrinko, in addition to the free coffee & lake which was always available, the service staff served us macha & mochi.^^ really enjoyed that.

woods at back of ryokan

woods at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

ryokan dining rooms viewed from back

ryokan dining rooms viewed from back

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

brook at back of ryokan

the next morning, before having breakfast & checking out, we walked from the dining rooms area to a brook at the back just before the woods. very nice & tranquil environment.

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 2 The Good Ending – A Marvellous Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 26Jan2015

excellent uni

excellent uni

after the excellent ryokan breakfast this morning, we now had cause to anticipate a nice kaiseki dinner on 26.1.2015.

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

this time we were not disappointed.

hence i had termed these 2 dinners on 25.1.2015 & 26.1.2015 “a tale of 2 dinners”

what a difference a menu change made.

see the sub-par dinner on 25.1.2015

with a good kaiseki dinner & breafast, Gettoan 月灯庵 did fully meet our expectations of a good ryokan.

umeshu梅酒

umeshu梅酒

for this evening, dinner started with umeshu梅酒.

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

excellent chawanmushi with egg & spring onions

the chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) was outstanding. there was bits of minced ginger on top. the texture & flavours were exquisite. maybe i will try this at home.

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

superb braised wagyu & tendons

the braised wagyu & tendons was just superb. texture was almost like gelatinous, had bite yet dissolving in the mouth, and nice mellow beefy flavours, mildly sweet. this was par excellence! ^^

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

grating own wasabi

grating own wasabi

ika

ika

fish sashimi

fish sashimi

we grated our own wasabi roots!

sashimi moriawase was nothing like last evening’s which was below those at sun with moon, or for that matter any supermarket basement sashimi picks in japan!

this time we had good serving each of uni, very sweet! ika was pretty good & the fish slices were very good too. the same lady server initially said it was swordfish, but when i mentioned it did not look remotely like kajiki, she corrected herself but we did not understand what fish it was actually. whatever, what counted was it’s good!

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

excellent anago tempura

& we had an excellent tempura!

the 2 large pieces each of anago (sea or conger eel) was a large helping. the tempura batter was just great & the whole experience wonderful.^^

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

& we had a wonderful bungo wagyu 丰后和牛 shabu shabu. there were 10 large thick slices of wagyu for 2 pax, beef was well marbled and flavourful, very good indeed!

shabu shabu

shabu shabu

noodles, mushrooms, veg

noodles, mushrooms, veg

we had the usual noodles, mushrooms, vegetables.

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

bungo wagyu 丰后和牛

i can have this again! 🙂

if we were to make a comparison with mikuni’s excellent kagoshima wagyu sukiyaki konabe, certainly what we have at Gettoan was much more marbled & better beef quality. in terms of satisfaction, mikuni’s was almost as good & a good approximation to this.

pickles

pickles

we had pickles with the gohan (rice).

cake dessert

cake dessert

dessert was ok. we did not have much interest for the butter cake. it maybe that gettoan indeed is trying to be fusion, with the foie gras tofu last evening (tonight’s chawanmushi would beat tat hands down), and these cake stuff, which some restaurants in Singapore like kuriya etc does too.

anyway, we were immensely satisfied with the kaiseki dinner this second night. ^^

c.h.e.f andy

A Tale of 2 Dinners Part 1 – Disappointing Totally Below Par Kaiseki Dinner @ Gettoan on 25Jan2015

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

we were booked for 2 nights at Gettoan ryokan 月灯庵 at yufuin 汤布院. Gettoan ryokan & its kaiseki dinners had very good reviews, and we were expecting a very good dinner on the first evening we checked into the ryokan on 25.1.2015.

it turned out to be really disappointing. i would say this dinner was below just about every ryokan dinner i had in tohoku (we visited just before the tsunami, sadly cannot go back now), and way below (say) mikuni or hachi or kuriya in singapore.

i need to add here though that the japanese breakfast the next day was excellent (& the day after too) & the shabu shabu kaiseki on our second night 26.1.2015 was just exquisite, par excellence, so i term this a tale of 2 dinners. ^^

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/a-tale-of-2-dinners-part-2-the-good-ending-a-marvellous-kaiseki-dinner-gettoan-on-26jan2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/wonderful-breakfast-a-redemption-gettoan-ryokan-yufuin-kyushu-on-26-1-2015/

https://chefquak.com/2015/02/08/another-wonderful-breakfast-to-savour-gettoan-ryokan-月灯庵-yufuin汤布院-kyushu-九州-on-27jan2015/

kaiseki menu

kaiseki menu

sensai

sensai

sensai-seaweed wrapped mentaiko

sensai-seaweed wrapped minced salmon?

sensai - fish roes

sensai – fish roes

the sensai was ok, but really unexciting for this class of ryokan (i.e. very expensive ryokan). the mini kaiseki lunch at kuriya had far better sensai (前菜). and the omakase lunch at GOTO had just as good sakizuke(先附).

tofu dish with foie gras

tofu dish with foie gras

the foie gras flavoured tofu dish was a nice dish, but really average by japanese kaiseki standards, non descript really.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

the sashimi moriawase (kampachi, tai maybe?? & hirame) was an immense let down, completely substandard. for me, even sun with moon sashimi is much better standard than this! sashimi was not sweet & was tough – a really low grade cut!

yuba pot

yuba pot

there was a egg, yuba pot with veg. i would give same assessment as the foie gras tofu…underwhelming, just like the entire dinner.

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

clear soup with fish

the clear soup came with a nice tasty piece of fish, maybe snapper? anyway for this dish alone, maybe one could say “normal service resumes??” but this was a non-substantial by-the-way dish in a kaiseki.

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧

of course the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧 was just excellent. like my wife said, ishiyaki is self service & they did gave a very good beef cut. in a good or at least par-for-the-course kaiseki, one expects to taste good cooking, some creativity & great matching of taste. those were non existent in this dinner!

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

ochazuke

ochazuke (お茶漬け)

other than the bungo wagyu ishiyaki 丰后和牛石烧, the ochazuke (お茶漬け) was the only other dish throughout the dinner that we consider of good standards. the kampachi cut was good & could be taken as sashimi or slightly poached with the rice. the yuzu miso paste was great & the dashi 上汤was just excellent! a very good dish.

deseert

deseert

the dessert was just as bad. any dessert in sun with moon would be better!

one comment on the service. the overall service of the ryokan was top notch as expected of any ryokans of this standard. we were assigned a server who spoke very good english & we were kind of expecting top level service.

but the service was really superficial! the server tried to get us to order red wine instead of sake claiming that the dishes suited wine better. i would say none of the dishes qualified at all as western or fusion & why would one take red or white wine instead of sake for a japanese dinner, they were just not very good japanese food! & it was quite blatant way to get us to spend more money. this the first & only time we encountered that in japan. even in Singapore these days, server will advise you NOT to order things you don’t need/want!

and worse, after the beef before ochazuke she asked us whether we wanted tea. we asked for ocha & was later billed 950yen! of course it was not about the money. she did not tell us it was chargeable, and the way she asked it was evident that she did not intend to reveal it was chargeable. immediately after the ochazuke, we were served another ocha, this one free. does that make any sense??

for me it was a lowly tactic suited for yesteryears, like london chinatown in the 1970s, not a top class ryokan in Japan, or for that matter any ordinary restaurants in Singapore.

fortunately for us, the ryokan redeemed itself the next few meals. we were asked again the next dinner if we wanted tea by the same server, again w/o telling us it was chargeable! some bad habits just do not go away!

c.h.e.f andy

Kaiseki Dinner (Below Par) @ Taisyoike Ryokan at Kamikochi on 14 &15Oct2013

1st kaiseki dinner at taisyoike   ryokan 14.10.2013

1st kaiseki dinner at taisyoike ryokan 14.10.2013

we made a last minute change to our itinerary, dropping unazuki (would have required a rushed scenic rail journey through the kuroge gorge) & realising that we didn’t need too many days at the alpine route, picked kamikochi (上高地) which was an excellent choice. 🙂

we wanted to catch the 1020am direct bus from matsumoto to kaimikochi to arrive at our taisyoike (大正池) ryokan bus stop (which was right outside the ryokan) at 12pmon 14.10.2013. hence we planned the journey to arrive at matsumoto in the late afternoon of 13.10.2013.

with that we managed to cover the entire easy 14km 4hr+ walk all the way to myojin-ike (明神池) pond & back to hotel in time for a nice bath & kaiseki dinner.

the ryokan service was EXCELLENT. first we booked directly with the ryokan at 14000yen pax for 2nights. but then my wife saw there was a 10% discount if we had made the booking via http://www.kamikochi.org/special-offers & quoting the website. i called the ryokan & they gave us the 10% discount anyway so it was 12600yen pax & 25200yen for 1 night.  will talk about the service again later. 🙂

we had the western room with attached bath & toilet so back to the usual ryokan routine. the yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths) was small c/w green-tateyama & most ryokans we had been previously (at hokkaido, tohoku, arashiyama, tateyama, hakone etc) but it was ok.

the kaiseki dinner though was a huge let-down, way below par!

kaiseki menu for 14.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 14.10.2013

though we could not read japanese, the menu had looked decent enough like most kaisekis we had. but ingredients & quality were just not there.

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

prawn,tofu, yam & roll

prawn,tofu, yam & roll

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iwana shioyaki

iwana shioyaki

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ham wrapped in leaves over hotpate

ham wrapped in leaves over hotpate

pan-fried hida beef

pan-fried beef

japanese grapes

japanese grapes

the sashimi were just average (those from supermarket were fresher & sweeter). the zensai was ok.the yam & sausage items were ok. the iwana shioyaki (岩鱼盐烧) was quite good i guess but not much our kind of food. the meatball with soup was ok. the duck again non-descript.  the ham on hot plate (they seemed to like to wrap meat in leaf over a heated plate) was much ado about nothing. the beef was quite poor really, not tasty & probably cooked at wrong temperature w/o proper browning & maillard reaction ring. at least the grapes were nice japanese grapes – sweet with a bit of wine flavour – & squeezed right out of the skin. 🙂

in all, a rather poor dinner, despite so many items. c/w many jap dining places in Singapore! nothing like the kaiseki we had come to know.

we were wondering what we might get the next day – & it was actually worse.

kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013

kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 15.10.2013

kaiseki menu for 15.10.2013

cured salmon & sayori

cured salmon & sayori

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vege nabe

vege & tofu nabe

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there was nothing to be said about the second night kaiseki dinner on 15.10.2013. only the cured salmon & sayori (flying fish) was good. the iwana 岩鱼was back this time in a miso paste grill. the beef was back this time a greater disaster –  never had beef with batter like pork, fish or lamb cutlet (of course there is beef wellington but that’s quite different a pastry & not a batter).

taisyoike ryokan @ kamikochi

taisyoike ryokan @ kamikochi

well, kamikochi is such a lovely place, walking aorund the lake enjoying the reflections at taisyoike pond, looking at the mist on the still active yakedate & hiking round the lake to kappa bridge & myojin-ike. the ryokan room & bath were ok & the service was excellent. they came to inform us during 15.10.2013 dinner about typhoon approaching tokyo on the day of our departure 16.10.2013 & likelihood that morning shinkansen originating from tokyo would be cancelled.  on the morning when we had to wait opposite the hotel to catch the bus coming from kamikochi terminal about 10 minutes away, they brought us 2 umbrellas and told us we could leave them on the bus stand when we boarded the bus. 🙂

so some gain some loss. however we still felt mostly loss as japan’s service is legendary & so is the ryokan room, bath & food, and for this trip, the good food we had were all from kyoto & matsumoto restaurants & not from the ryokans, except perhaps (ironically) the (non-ryokan) mingshuku senjusou. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Nice Dinner @ Senjusou (千寿庄) Minshuku (民宿) on 11Oct2013

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

dinner @ senjusou (千寿庄)

despite planning our trip several months ahead, i could not get the dates we wanted at midagahara hotel & tateyama hotel (at murodou), so decided to stay at tateyama cablecar station location. i also could not get a second night at greenview-tateyama but managed to book senjusou (千寿庄) which was just few steps (like 20m) from the cablecar station. 🙂

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

nice tofu, yuba & rolled fish

nice tofu & rolled eel

grilled fish

grilled fish

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

ham hobayaki (cooked on hoba leaves with miso)

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, yuzu

edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, orange

senjusou charged 9500yen/night for 2pax w/0 meals & 15800yen with 2 meals, so it was 3150yen pax for dinner+breakfast (all w/o attached toilets). so i guess there was no expectation of any sorts of kaiseki dinner.

anyhow the homecooked meal actually turned out pretty well. the sashimi moriawase though basic with maguro, salmon & ika, actually tasted a lot sweeter than what we had the night before at greenview-tateyama. 🙂

i like fish a lot more than my wife so the dishes agreed with me more.  the rolled eel was tasty (japanese food tended to be a bit salty) & the tofu & japanese taupok were nice. the grilled fish was usual fare average but which i liked anyway. the ebi furai (fry) was crispy & fresh & good with the salad. seemed like they also like oyster gratin here.  just ok. the ham hobayaki not something i really appreciate.  hobayaki is like grilling over a hoba leaf (朴叶 magnolia leaf)  over clay pan under fire, usually with salty miso paste. for me only hobayaki  i like is hida beef (飞弹牛), anything else is just elaborate effort & average result.

there were some edamame (枝豆), beans, bamboo shoots, plus a small orange for dessert fruit & the usual gohan set (rice set with pickles). here we scooped our own rice from a rice cooker. japanese breakfast we had was basic, nothing much to write about.

as for the mingshuku, we got a front japanese tatami room on level 2 which was small but larger than several we saw at the back. we were also offered & took a look at a level 3 western room with 3 beds which looked more like a dorm.  looked like all rooms were w/o attached. the room had a powerful aircon which was important as it was still hot (about 29degC) at 3.30pm when we checked in.

we had both men & women common toilets at level 2, and it was very closeby as the mingshuku was tiny really. there were men & women yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths) which were tiny rooms more like a large bath tub. the changing room was like an ante-room before the bath where the access door slided open, so there was like zero privacy. service was basic but competent. we asked them in email if they could forward our luggage but they referred us to tateyama train station to do that so that was why we forwarded from greenview-tateyama. anyway all these to be expected for this tiny family-run place. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Average Kaiseki Dinner @ Greenview-Tateyama Ryokan on 10Oct2013

kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama ryokan

kaiseki dinner @ greenview-tateyama ryokan

we stayed at almont hotel (hokke group) in kyoto to break journey, and arrived at greenview tateyama ryokan just few minutes walk from the tateyama train station (& cable car station).

was looking forward to kaiseki dinner having booked a menu with 2 wagyu items. as it turned out though this was still among the better dinners we had over the alpine route lodges, it was just very average & a far cry from the very good kaiseki we were accustomed to in japan.

wagyu beef & scallop

wagyu beef & scallop

sashimi moriawase

sashimi moriawase

chefquak7 chefquak3

we had grilled wagyu & scallops. i thought they were both quite ok (though we had far better in every ryokan we been to previously, especially in all the ryokans in tohoku, and also in hokkaido, takayama, arashiyama, hakone, kawaguchiko). the cold beef came with jelly – seemed like a fusion western treatment. just ok.

the sashimi moriawase included maguro, tai & a seaweed wrapped fish, which seemed to be a common dish in this region, as was the local apples. the sashimi though was not great & was in fact inferior to the far cheaper ryokan (or maybe mingshuku senjusou) which we stayed the following night.

ikura with radish strips & crabstick

ikura with radish strips & crabstick

prawn on mountain yam

prawn on mountain yam

chefquak8 chefquak9

soba & fish with miso

soba & fish with miso

fish with miso

fish with miso

gohan (rice) set with pickles

gohan (rice) set with pickles

nice fruits

nice fruits

the ikura was ok, non descript.  so was the prawn with mountain yam.  the oyster gratin with some yam was ok, quite good.  the soba again carbo we could do without. the fish with miso was ok. the rice & pickles which often included a miso paste in this region was ok. the dessert was quite nice – the persimon, and japan grapes (which flesh come out easily from the skin & are sweet & with kind of alcohol feel) were great & refreshing.

& here there was a decent good yu 湯 (japanese for hot water ie onsen baths), which was the other important ingredient for staying in a ryokan.

the service was very good. we had missed the birthday special as we booked late (past the promotion date) so they took a photo for us during dinner & gave us a print next day. good gesture & memory i supposed & the effort well appreciated of course. these days though all our phone cameras & photos & e-copies were quite fine. 🙂 also we had to forward our big luggage to matsumoto (japan’s efficient luggage forwarding was legendary & we were bringing only a backpack each up the mountains). the lady was very helpful & photocopied our matsumoto hotel booking & filled up the forwarding address form for us & let us checked before dispatching the luggage when we checked out the next day. so service-wise it was good, not better than those at many japanese ryokans we came to be accustomed to, but good nevertheless. 🙂

over the next few nights, we came to the conclusion that for good stay & kaiseki it would be better to break journey at unazuki, toyama & at omachi onsen, though the good ryokans would be more expensive (but 25000yen here for a room with attached bath & 2 mealsfor 2pax was not exactly cheap for the food we had relative to many other ryokans we had been to. the kaiseki here was really much below expectation).  the alpine route could be traversed in 1 day & unless one was doing serious trekking & mountain climbing there was no need to stay at tateyam, midagahara or morodou.

c.h.e.f andy