Kyoto - Kikunoi Honten: Gelée of Yam and Uni
The Sakizuke at Kikunoi Honten for the Damp Month (May) was a gelée of mountain yam, fresh uni (sea urchin roe), shiso flowers and wasabi jelly. The Sakizuke (先付), also called tsukidashi or otoshi, the first course in a typical kaiseki meal, is equivalent to an amuse-bouche or amuse-gueule, a single bite bite-sized hors d’œuvre, of French cuisine.
Kikunoi Honten (料亭 菊乃井), located at 459 Shimokawara-Cho in the Gion-Maruyama district, is a Michelin 3-star ryōtei or restaurant specializing in Kyoto style kaiseki cuisine. Kikunoi was established in 1912 and has been headed by the third-generation owner-chef, Yoshihiro Murata (村田吉弘が) since 1989. The name Kikunoi literally means "chrysanthemum well," a name owed to the legend of a local well used by the first wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to make tea, causing spring water to burst forth in the pattern of a chrysanthemum (kiku) in full bloom.
Kaiseki (会席), or kaiseki ryōri (会席料理) refers both to a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. In the present-day, kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance and colors of food. A kaiseki meal uses only fresh seasonal ingredients, often locally sourced. Finished dishes are carefully presented, often with real leaves and flowers, on plates chose to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal. Kyoto is well known for its kaiseki, which draws heavily on local traditions, and is sometimes known as kyō-ryōri (京料理) or kyo-kaiseki.