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Image 1: This place is like a hidden pearl: a modest and slightly run down exterior but inside is one of the most scenic gardens and, even better, a kitchen that produces one of the most famous kaiseki in town.
Image 2: With almost 100 years of history, Tsuruya was once a designated place for members of Kyoto Imperial Palace. Many well-known figures have visited here including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and Deng Xiaoping.
As in any traditional Japanese houses, shoes must be removed before entering.
We got a spacious private room for just two of us...
Image 7: ...with a superb view.
SEE VIDEO HERE!!!
This is like a painting to our dining room! Stunning!
Image 9: The historical house, the tatami room, the kimono dressed servers, plus this surreal garden - we felt like living in a fantasy world here. This place really allows you to immerse yourself in their traditional culture!
Alright, let the culinary journey begin. A warm floral tea to start.
This is the first course of the USD$200 menu.
Image 13: A collection of various mashed bean balls, deep-fried prawns, egg custard, fava bean, lily bulb, and Konnyaku in a cup. We came across Konnyaku many times in Kyoto - made with yam, tasteless but a strong elastic texture!
Image 14: Sashimi plate came with a dark soy sauce on left (for sea bream) and soy & lemon (for bonito) on right.
Bonito with a touch of ginger and sea bream underneath.
A umami-rich soup with shrimp and fish ball, lemon zest, and shiitake.
Tempura of Aburame (greenling) and Ainame (fat greenling).
A cute eggplant.
Steamed fish with sticky rice and kogomi, the sprout of fern.
Image 22: Poached bamboo shot with bonito flakes and kinome garnish. All courses so far were very subtle, or simply bland to be more direct.
Image 23: Finally something more heavy to brighten up our palate. A grilled mackerel with miso sauce. Brilliant combination of strong flavoured meaty fish with a deep flavoured miso sauce! Best dish of the meal!
Image 24: Continue to enjoy our meal while absorbing the natural landscape.
Image 25: Next, came a big bamboo pot of rice.
Rice with green pea
Soup with konnyaku, seasonal herbs, and miso.
Image 30: We first thought this green melon must be honeydew.
Image 31: It was sweet, very aromatic, and exceptionally juicy. It tasted like cantaloupe rather than honeydew. I am not a fruit-person at all, but I wished I could have this melon everyday! The best melon in our life!
Image 32: We then flipped it over and notice it was indeed a cantaloupe, but a green-flesh cantaloupe!
Image 33: We then followed our server for a tour of the house.
Image 34: They have five other rooms plus two banquet halls each can hold more than 100 people with an impressive garden view. SEE VIDEO HERE!!!