Saiseki Chimoto my email

Hi all,

From one of my previous e-mails:
> Tomorrow I will try a bit high-end dining, which is surely the most expensive one in this trip.

I have been to a Kaiseki-resturant in Kyoto in my last trip. I came to know this restaurant because "Okami" of the restaurant, who is the "face" of the restaurant making sure day to day operation are done right from clientele's perspective, happened to be a student of the Ikebana class I'm attending to.

I was talking to her mentioning my previous Kaiseki experience and was saddened that the restaurant I went to was no longer there (because of the owner chef's family emergency). She mentioned that her restaurant (Chimoto) has a sister restaurant (Saiseki Chimoto) which is more casual and more affordable, yet it offers very decent Kaiseki meals that can be available from even for one person. BTW, Chimoto has 300+ yr history and Saiseki Chimoto has 21yr history ;-)

Saiseki Chimoto offers four selections for lunch ($23 ~ $90+) and four selections for dinner ($65 ~ $130). The prices include sale tax (8%).
(For comparison, Chimoto offers three selections for lunch ($156 ~ $311 / $72 ~ $93 (party of five or more)) and three selections for dinner ($156 ~ $311 or more), minimum two people required.)

Which one to choose? It was not easy for me to pick as I don't want to spend too much for a lunch but I don't want to miss genuine Kaiseki experience by picking a cheaper one.
Over the years, this became my philosophy that "follow the advice from the professional if you are new to the thing" (rather than making a decision based on my poor knowledge). So, I asked her which one I should choose. Her suggestion was the second one from the bottom, "Yuki" ($37).

I'm glad that I have sought her suggestion as I had a chance to see the $23 one to compare. Nothing wrong with the $23 one but it was a "Bento" style and doesn't offer genuine Kaiseki experience, in my humble opinion.
How about more expensive offerings? I was told that more expensive offerings use superior quality ingredients and offer more dishes. For lunches, "Yuki" is probably more than enough. While I was in the restaurant, all customers in the same floor except one young lady ordered "Yuki" (and the young lady ordered $23 "Bento" style one).

Okay, without further ado, here is the lunch I had (for 4320 yen or about $37).

Saiseki Chimoto (15 photos)

The course I ordered was "Yuki" (means snow) and nine dishes were served. The menu contents was updated month by month (that is you would get different dishes when you are in the restaurant next time).

Here is a scanned image of the menu I had (the bottom half is rotated 180 degree for better viewing). The menu was folded into one-eighth of the original size. They handed me a copy before serving the dishes.

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Verdict:
* superb dining experience
* highly recommended for anyone who is visiting Kyoto
* amazing value (Quality / Cost)
* can experience the essence (or ingenuity) of Kyoto cuisine

I would give them 5 (or 4.9 for there must be something left to improve) out 5 stars.
Although all of dishes offered were superb, my personal favourite was "温物", which was fried sweet potato.
It is impossible for my poor English to describe the dish but it was unbelievably good.

//

How about Chimoto, Saiseki Chimoto's big sister restaurant? Not worth trying Chimoto, where lunch and dinner would cost at least twice or three times as much?

I think Chimoto is worth considering if one or more from the following conditions matches your situation.
* You want to have the best you can buy
* You are a party of five or more (for lunch)
* You want to dine in a quieter setting
* You want to dine with outside scenery of Kyoto
* You want to have a better attention from a server
* You want to have better interactions regarding to dishes being served
* You want to dine with Geisha / Maiko ($400+ a party of four or more)

So, at the end the same simple rule applies here, "you are going to get what you paid for".

If you plan to try these restaurants, it was strongly advised to make an advance reservation (even reservations are not strictly required).

Aki-

Note: I used 120 yen/$ exchange rate at the time of writing.

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