The Minokichi was founded in 1716 during the Kyoho period during the reign of the eighth Shogun Yoishimune as one of the eight licensed restaurants to serve freshwater fishes authorised by Shogunate’s Kyoto Administration. Today, it is a restaurant chain with branches all around Japan serving approachable keiseki meals.
If you pay close enough attention, you may notice that two different Japanese restaurants may sometimes be similarly labelled as kaiseki restaurants in the English language, but yet have variant versions – 懐石 or 会席 – when it comes to their Japanese kanji names.
The former variant draws from the term chakaiseki (茶懐石), a formal Japanese tea ceremony experience practised from the 16th century, and traditionally refers to a simple multi-dish meal served as a prelude to enjoying a few cups of matcha. Kaiseki literally means “stones in the bosom”, and references the stones (seki, or 石) that monks would fold into their robes (kai, or 懐) and close to their bellies, to keep hunger at bay.
The other, slightly more contemporary, variant of kaiseki is indicated by the characters 会席, and refers to a social gathering (kai, or 会) with seating (seki, or 席). It is a more elaborate meal accompanied with sake and ending with a simple tea service. This form of kaiseki has evolved over the years to become luxurious and elaborate compared to the cuisine’s humble roots.
Yakimono is served either as a frame-grilled food (usually seafood), or as a nabe (earthenware).
In Minokichi, they served the Yakimono and the Shiizakana courses as a combined 主菜 (Shusai).
釜飯 Kamameshi かまめし is referred to in English as “Kettle Rice” and is a savoury rice dish with shiitake mushrooms, chicken and other delicious ingredients usually cooked for one person.
謝恩懐石 Syaon Kaiseki
The word kaiseki is used here interchangeably with the term “banquet”, therefore technically this should be referred to as 謝恩会席. This is a tradition in Asia to celebrate a graduation to show one’s gratitude to the teachers and tutors with a celebratory meal like a kaiseki.
食前酒 Shokuzen Sake
食前酒 Shokuzen sake – This aperitif was a sweet cold sake that was served before the kaiseki proper and used for a pre-dinner toast as this was thanksgiving kaiseki.
胡麻豆腐 Homemade sesame tofu – the tofu tasted more like jelly and the specialty was the sauce the was used. It featured the same watercress that featured a lot in Hangzhou cuisine that gave it the sticky, slimy texture when cooked.
初夏の彩り盛合せ Summer Special Appetisers – it was tasty but quite underwhelming as compared to others that I have tried. The Hassun (八寸，はっすん) course was a second course to showcase the seasonality and the technique of the chef and the team. I could not determine the season, especially looking at it 2 years later 🙂
鱧の葛打ち 梅玉 柚子 Conger eel soup with ume plum and yuzu – a very light soup with tangy yuzu and plum to compliment the conger eel. The 蓋物（Futamono，ふたもの） course started to feature the seasonal pike conger eel. This was usually the fifth course before the other main courses to reset the palate.
鱧の落としと 本日のお造り盛合せ あしらい一式 – Pike conger and assorted sashimi – also known as the 向付け（Mukōzuke，むこうづけ）course, it featured the seasonal pike conger.
活若鮎塩焼き 蓼酢 和牛ローストビーフSalt-grilled Ayu with Wagyu and vinegar sauce – the Ayu were very small. Disappointed given that they are a freshwater fish specialist.
京都上賀茂産 賀茂茄子田楽 万願寺唐辛子 Kyoto Kamo eggplant dakuraku with Wanpaku pepper – very heavy.
焼鱧の釜炊き御飯 香の物 赤出汁 Pike conger kamameshi with konomono and miso soup
時季の物 Seasonal dessert
Summer Special Kaiseki 初夏の特別懐石
胡麻豆腐 Homemade sesame tofu
初夏の彩り盛合せ Early summer special
すっぽんの吸物 焼葱 焼麸 生姜 Turtle soup with scallion, rice cake and ginger – I was pleasantly surprised that Japanese love their turtle soup. And unlike the Singaporean turtle soup which tends to be quite herbal and used a tonic, turtle soup in Japan is usually quite light and clear, focusing on the sweetness of the chicken-like meat of the turtle. The ladies loved it for the collagen that would melt into the soup and gave it that signature sticky taste.
和牛ローストビーフとエゾ鮑雲丹焼き Grilled Japanese wagyu beef with Ezo abalone and sea urchin grilled – the combination of abalone and sea urchin was quite unique. But I always prefer the sea urchin as a sashimi. Grilling intensified the flavour but it also destroyed the creamy texture of Uni.
名物鰻御飯 香の物 赤出汁 Specialty unagi rice, konomono, miso soup – Minokichi’s history with the Kamo River in Kyoto meant that it has many specialty with river fish – eels, ayu, etc. So grilled unagi is one of their specialty.
デザート盛り合わせ 甘味 抹茶 – served with the same sweets as the other kaiseki, but an addition of ceremonial green tea.
Special Beef Set おすすめの肉料理
Beef steak, sashimi, salad, stewed dish, rice, miso soup and sherbet 牛ステーキ| お造りサラダ | 炊き合せ | 御飯 | 吸物 | シャーベット – The little princess did not like Kaiseki and would prefer wagyu. These reasonably priced wagyu lunch set included a generous piece of sirloin together with sashimi, a couple of side dishes, rice and sherbet for dessert. Good if you want a quick lunch.
Among all the Kaiseki restaurants I have been to, I would rate Minokichi as a more affordable but entry-level type. They have another brand Takeshigero that offer a more sophisticated dining experience. But if you have been put off by the high price of Kaiseki, this would be a good entry point to the intricate world of Kyo-ryori and Kaiseki.
Minokichi Kintetsu Uehonmachi Location
Kintetsu Department store Uehonmachi location 12F 6-1-55 Tennojiku uehonmachi, Osaka 543-0001
Tel : +81(6)6771-4185
Date Visited : Jun 2016