For people who live there, and visitors seeking out a Kaiseki experience in Kyoto, you have certainly heard of Kitcho. It is considered one of the finest restaurants in the world. It has won just about every award a restaurant can attain, including 3 michelin stars AND all 5 forks and knives.
A third generation run restaurant, its current chef is Kunio Tokuoka. The kaiseki meal comes in several courses, which are themed around the season you come. If you choose the full tasting menu, you get around 12 to 14 courses, including the Hassun course (which is about 5 dishes served together). All dishes are immaculately presented and brought to you in beautiful antique tableware, some of which are very very old and priceless. Ingredients are painstakingly sourced for quality and prepared to their highest potential, all of which are seasonal and local.
Another highlight is the venue itself. Kitcho resides in Arashiyama, by a riiver, and near a green sloping mountain, one of the most beautiful and dramatic locations you can get. The restaurant is divided into several private tatami rooms, all of which have their own separate gardens.
Dinner for one person lasts a bit over 3 hours, and will run you more than $600USD, not including sake. Because this can seem quite steep for many, I recommend this restaurant if you have eaten Kaiseki several times in your life AND you appreciate it.
Here is an example of a summer menu:
Junmai Daijingo sake apertif. Very high quality sake.
Kelp and plum tea, which is really more like a soup.
Roast vegetables with grilled octopus.
Hamo eel is served next, in a flavorful broth with a touch of yuzu.
White fish sashimi with two sauces, one is citrus based, the other uses the fish innards.
Bluefin O-toro sashimi and grilled lobster. For a sushi lover, this is impressive.
Ayu sweetfish, a specialty of summer, is grilled whole and served with a green leaf sauce.
Broiled trout, with shiitake, tempura vegetables, and sudachi citrus.
Red bean rice and sesame. The gold bowl it comes in is fantastic.
The Hassun course, an assortment of seasonal dishes.
Edamame beans, which have been cut in half and chilled in a cold clear broth
Uni served over warm root vegetables.
Simmered shrimp, sushi rolled in a leaf, fried fish, mountain potato.
The shrimp’s head is served with ginger.
A stew of nasu eggplant, pumpkin, and okra.
Kyoto raised beef, with a gelee. I felt this surpassed even the best Kobe beef I ever had.
Lotus rice cooked in a pot, served with tiny white fish, shiso, plum, and tsukemono
Watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, white peach, and a Kyoho grape. All are unbelievably perfect.
Green tea sorbet, which has a strong matcha flavor.