Category Archives: Michelin


DD pointing at some Monterey Pines

Ok, I’ll admit it, Wakuriya only hit our radar after it received its first Michelin star. I have a horrible fault of usually turning a blind eye (with a few exceptions) to anything south of San Francisco, preferring to focus on wine country or Oakland/ Berkeley instead. DD had tried to get reservations before, but had called too late for a birthday dinner.

We wish we had gotten to Wakuriya sooner. I’d go every month if we could.

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Though the meal we had here is more than 3 years old, I still look back on Mugaritz, nestled in the hills of Basque country, so fondly as being the best dining experience we’ve had yet.  And indeed, calling it “lunch,” though it was technically that, is truly an inadequate way to describe what we ate, saw, and how we were treated. Continue reading




Of late, I’ve been able to resist temporary temptations.  For over a year since it opened, I made scant little effort to get to Plum until I heard visiting Southern chef Sean Brock was coming to town and would be cooking special dinners at Coi and Daniel Patterson’s outpost in the East Bay… I hastily made sure we had a spot then.  The same applied for Saison.  In all fairness, we had been trying to get here since Chef Josh Skenes was only doing 2 dinners a week in the Stable Cafe space – we’d make reservations and then have to cancel them.  But this week, we stuck to our Wednesday 9pm timeslot for Smith@Saison – Chef Jeremy Fox’s 4-day installment while Skenes is off accepting his shiny Best New Chef award at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Continue reading


Kichisen Take-Away

Kichisen Take-away Bag

In Europe, we knew better than to ask for take-home boxes or doggie bags if we somehow were not able to finish the food on our plates.  And in Japan, we rarely encountered a meal wherein we might have been compelled to take food home.  We were really surprised then, that at the end of our first fancy-schmancy meal at Kichisen, the chef presented us with a “take away” (their term, not mine) bag for asa-gohan (breakfast) the next day. Continue reading


Roan Kikunoi in Kyoto

Chef Maruyama-san and Chef Yoshihiro Murata-san.

“For whatever reason, modern Japanese have maintained their deep emotional linkage with the annual shifts in climate, ingrained from ancient times whether cultivating crops or fishing on the coast.  So much is this connection the heart and soul of a cuisine, that when I am asked, “What is kaiseki?” I often have  a very simple answer.

“It is eating the seasons.”

— Yoshihiro Murata, Kikunoi

Roan Kikunoi, according to the 2011 Michelin Guide for Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, was created by Chef Murata as a somewhat more  affordable option for the younger set as compared to Kikunoi Honten, his flagship fine-dining restaurant that’s garnered 3 Michelin stars.  His other outpost in Akasaka, Tokyo, won 2 stars and admittedly Roan Kikunoi has 2 stars for itself.  Though quite a high bar, lunch here is also possibly one of the best deals for sampling kaiseki in Kyoto.  Chef Yoshimi Murata has been something of an international celebrity, recently receiving accolades from Noma’s Rene Redzepi (best meal), providing consulting advice to Singapore Airlines for in-flight meals and releasing a gorgeous English cookbook that garnered him a James Beard nomination.  He also appears to somewhat controversial in Kyoto, as evidenced by this discussion string on Chowhound. Continue reading


Kichisen, Kyoto

Kichisen Counter

We should have asked.  We had noticed the young man standing by the sidewalk – not so much in the middle of the walkway, but on the edge, somewhat nonchalantly, looking around – crisp cream shirt, black trousers.  He stood in front of a quiet, understated entrance whose signage we did not initially see; we also didn’t want to gawk and only glanced in its direction (we thought it could have been someone’s residence).  We should have just asked, “Sumimasen, Kichisen wa, dochira desu ka?” (Excuse me, where is Kichisen, please?)

It took us an hour by Kyoto’s city bus to get to Kichisen on the other side of the city, approximately the same time estimated by Google walking directions.  It’s a good thing that we left the Shunkoin Guest House with plenty of time.

Kichisen was our first truly fancy meal of the trip, selected because of Michelin, recommendations and accounts by Kyoto Foodie, and some research on Chowhound. Continue reading

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