2013 Nov Dinner At Ryotei Takeuchi

This is something I didn't plan for. One of students in my Ikebana class was a young Japanese chef who recently started his own restaurant after 10 years of apprenticeship in other Japanese restaurants (Not many Japanese chefs can start their own restaurant after 10 years of apprenticeship). I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity for me to experience "real" Japanese restaurant and its food offered.
What I picked was "Omakase", which means "I leave it to you (the chef)". The chef decides what to serve depending upon the availability / quality of ingredients found in a market, the season, and the customer (his/her preference).
It costed me 12100 yen (approx $120) for the dinner and two glasses of beer including 5% sales tax (no tipping required ;-) ). I consider this a bargain for he only takes one set of customers each night (no customer rotation). Only 4 customers were there for the night (maximum 5 ~ 6 people). I know some other (more famous) Japanese restaurants charge much more for a similar dinner.
The dinner offered for the night featured "Fugu" (pufferfish). Multiple dishes were created using "Fugu". The dishes were all delicious and exquisite. They all tasted very light even the original ingredients were known as oily or fishy. I think this is something to do with Japanese tradition that is marked by vegetarian meals offered in Buddhism / Zen temples.
He used fresh, good quality ingredients and they required extensive and time-consuming preparation before he cooked them in front of customers. The water he used for cooking and tea were brought from a spring in Kyoto hillside. The tea served there was extremely good. I'm not sure that was because of tea leaves or because of spring water used, probably both. The plates, bowls used in the restaurant were quite good ones. He said he always searched for good quality plates and bowls, sometimes from antique markets.
BTW, the plaster used inside the restaurant includes grinned white seashells (to make it whiter). The counter top was made of a one large thick "Hinoki" (Japanese cypress) wood piece, which is not easy to get (and very expensive).
I enjoyed the dinner and the evening. I'm planning to visit the restaurant again in my future trips to Japan to see what will be served for the season.

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A news I heard just after my trip:

UNESCO designates 'washoku' intangible cultural heritage asset

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