Seizan

Dinner – Sunday, November 20, 2016

Seizan has been gathering accolades, with 2 Michelin stars and a spot on OAD’s top 50 Japanese restaurants. I must admit to being rather ignorant about the restaurant, but the fact that it’s open on Sundays brought it to my attention while I was looking for dinner options. The restaurant is relatively modern, with a counter and glass-enclosed kitchen, and a small dining room as well. A single, unwritten menu is served.

Echizen snow crab
Crab gelee, mountain yam, yuzu, shiso

A strong opening salvo – super-sweet crab with a hint of bitterness from the shiso. A few cubes of brunoised mountain yam added crunch. Excellent.

Amadai, yuba, kabu
The tilefish and baby white turnip were both perfectly cooked, but the star was the broth – smoky and packed with umami yet without any sense of heaviness, a technique the Japanese seem to excel at.

Sashimi of ika, hirame and sawara

Shirako
A simple serving of high-quality cod milt over rice – this was actually one of my favourite bites of the evening.

Grilled kamasu, gingko, Kyoto vegetables

Crab cream croquette
This was actually a remarkably good dish. It seemed heavy at first sight, but the texture of the croquette was impossibly fluffy – like a cloud of crab. It was served with a sweet onion sauce for dipping. I was caught off guard by how delicious this was.

Ebi imo, ikura, shintorina
This was our first encounter with ebi imo, a variety of taro – it was extremely creamy and nearly dissolved into the hot broth, thickening the liquid considerably. Paired with the shintorina (a slightly bitter, cabbage-like vegetable), they offset the briny ikura nicely. Stark contrasts of textures, temperatures and tastes made this our consensus dish of the night.

Rice with tai and hirame
Miso soup, pickles

Yuzu jelly and pudding

Haruhiko Yamamoto, the chef-owner, is only in his thirties, but the food demonstrated considerable maturity and restraint. This was the only kaiseki-style meal we booked on this trip, and it met expectations. At it’s price point, I don’t think there are many other places that could match it – Seizan delivers 80% the experience of the highest temples at half the price (not to mention the lack of booking pains). I wouldn’t hesitate to return.

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