Yonemura - Kyoto, Japan

Located steps away from Maruyama Park, famous for its Cherry Blossom trees and home to countless shrines, temples & monuments is eponymous restaurant Yonemura. Chef Masayasu Yonemura has earned one Michelin star for his fusion cuisine offering a blend of traditional Kyoto dishes with a relatively modern touch. I use the word "relatively" modern because browsing the dishes and platting below one may think that there is nothing modern from a western point of view, however, one of the ancient city's master Chefs proves otherwise. Its worth considering that "modern" doesn't lie only in display, but also cooking methods and the combination of particular ingredients, for example the squid soaked in chamomile and risotto of snapping turtle. You wouldn't say either of the two dishes look modern, but have you ever seen those ingredients paired together or prepared in a such a way? There is in fact more than what meets the eye.

With all that being said, Chef serves a kaiseki of creative dishes using premium Japanese ingredients without being tied down to a particular style or culinary method. Like many restaurants in Kyoto the interior is traditional, using unstained wood for majority of the structure. On the main floor all guests are seated at a long counter where everyone has a front row view of the action, where Chef and his team can be seen preparing the delicious surprises below.
Above: Pickled Vegetables
Left: Soba Flavored Butter Bread with Bottarga Mushroom
Center: Sakra Shrimp & Mixed Vegetable Tempura
Bottom: Carpaccio of Flatfish with Sea Urchin, Salmon Roe, Mascarpone, Seaweed

Left: Clam Chowder
Right: Deep Fried Clam & Beef Cutlet

Boiled Baby Octopus Soaked in Chamomile
served with a Salad of Tomato, Apple & Scallop with Fruits, Vinegar Miso Sauce

Risotto of Snapping Turtle with Globefish Milt

Cold served Fettuccine topped with Firefly Squid, 
Sauce of Tomato, Komatsuna & Soft-Boiled Quail Egg

Wagyu Beef Steak & Wagyu Beef Shabu-Shabu with Garlic Peanut Sauce 
& Ponzu Mixed with Grated Daikon

Curry Rice served with Onion and Brown Tea

Fruits Parfait with Rice-Flour Dumplings & Champagne and Strawberry Sorbet

Michelin star Chef Masayasu Yonemura & Myself

The mantra at Yonemura is a "free thinking without borders" approach to cooking. This time an English menu was indeed provided, but it didn't take away from the entertaining unpredictability of each course. As you can see above, Chef Masayusa had the same humility as Chef Norio, and came around the counter at the end of the meal for thank yous and farewells. There isn't much English information on Yonemura's website, but you're more than welcome to have a look here.

Kyoto is nicknamed the Ancient City, but it's also filled with present treasures. One of them being Ifuki, a two Michelin starred restaurant serving up some rather exotic items. Have a look here.


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