Tokyo Day 5: Japanese Breakfast Feast

Since it is taking me a while to get back into the swing of blogging after the move, and being able to sew again is a few weeks off, I wondered what to post about.  Then a little voice inside reminded me there is a mountain of photos from Tokyo begging to be shared. So without further ado I give you Tokyo Day 5.

When I last left off, we toured the one-and-only Tsukiji Market, taken a brief stroll through Harajuku, experienced a truly luxurious meal at Aoyagi, soked in the beauty of Gora Kadan onsen, and ate ourselves sick on an incredible kaiseki dinner.

Which brings us to day 5.  I was starting to get the impression that someone would need to roll me onto the plane to get back home.  The amount of food that was flowing my direction was outrageous!  And the ryokan breakfast that was about to unfold was climactic.

day 5 hot springs onsen bath

Before breakfast there was enough time to soak a few times in the onsen, start packing for the return trip, and I even curled up like a cat in the small reading nook and caught up on the interwebs.  We then broke down and made a call to Taka-san for some coffee out of desperation.  Next time we visit we will be sure to plan ahead for that.  We are both rubbish without that first cup of joe everyday.

The Feast

After being served coffee and a glass of orange juice, our breakfast began with the arrival of a curious object.  Taka-san quietly placed a delicate wooden box on the table along with some sugars and porcelain pot of shoyu.  The moment were heard the fusuma slide closed behind him, we were possessed with curiosity. “What the heck is in there?  It’s nori!”  This simple yet elegant box had a small compartment on top for strips of nori and a section below for a heating element to keep the nori crisp.  This is why I am so enamored by Japanese design.  Form and function. Just perfect!

day 5 asagohan nori crisper

But the curiosity of the box was only the beginning.  Surprise! A huge vegetable salad arrived next.  “Salad for asagohan?” ほんとに!{For real?}  Hey, why not.  I knew that Japanese breakfasts would be a far departure from what is normal in the US, but admittedly I wasn’t expecting salad (O_O)

asagohan salad for breakfast honto ni

It was an explosion of food next. Amazing!

day 5 asagohan at gora kadan

kaiseki flowerbed asagohan breakfast

And respectfully, the breakfast was superior to the dinner the night before.  I am not sure if it was different chefs or something else.  But the breakfast blew the previous meal away.  Our absolute favorite was the soft tofu, to the right of the grilled sweet fish.  Melt in your mouth does not do justice to describing it.  The ayu was spectacular.  And hidden in a lidded bowl was a charming collection of tofu items representing sakura in reflection of spring.  While the cherry blossoms had already fleeted outside, we were able to enjoy their spirit during our meal.

ryokan kaiseki seasonal cusine spring

Tokyo Day 4: Gora Kadan Dinner

I took a bit of a detour from posting all our amazing Tokyo vacation experiences. Hard to believe that the trip was 2 months ago already.  But the memories are still fresh in my mind.  It was certainly a time in my life that I will never forget.

We last left off with arriving at the first class ryokan, Gora Kadan, in Hakone.  The rain was coming down in earnest, but as we were there to enjoy the hot springs, getting a bit wet simply wasn’t an issue.  After Taka-san, our personal attendant, gave us a tour of the suite and some tea to settle in after the journey from Tokyo, a dip in the private bath was priority.  After a soak (or two) we slipped into yukata and Taka-san began serving dinner.

adi and sheri before dinner

Kaiseki Formal Japanese Meal

japanese dinner place setting

Kaiseki cuisine  is a serious affair.  Chefs go to great lengths to ensure an exquisite level of taste and and an equally esthetically pleasing visual story.  This type of cuisine typically uses only the freshest of seasonal ingredients.  The presentation of the dishes are carefully crafted and will use real flowers or edible garnishes to resemble seasonal themes.

While not an official course of the meal, even our sake was delivered in a manner appropriate for the kaiseki style.  I took the flowers from the presentation with me when we left and they became a charming floral arrangement in the apartment for many days to follow.  There were several buds still on the branch and each blossomed in their own time.

kaiseki serving of sake during traditional japanese dinner

Hours d’oeuvre: Lotus root sushi, prawn, Japanese thicker omelet, water shield with dashi vinegar, masu trout with dengaku miso, broad bean, dried hoshiko, boiled Japanese pepper flower

gora kadan japanese dinner first course

Side dish: Green peas tofu, deep fried ainame (fat greenling) with dashi sauce

shrimp and tofu tempura dish

Soup: Clear soup with scallop dumpling topped grilled scallop, garnish with three color vegetables and pepper buds

japanese grilled scallop in broth

Sashimi: Catch of the day with tosa soy sauce and salt ponzu vinegar

uni sashimi gora kadan ryokan

Grilled fish: Dried ayu sweet fish, myoga ginger pickles in vinegar, simmered sweet potato {I clearly was too into the sashimi as I only have this one photo which includes the ayu}

takasan serving another dish

Steamed dish: Dried flowering fern, young taro potato, fried eggplant, boiled abalone, snap bean and a grated yuzu citrus

seaweed course ryokan traditional meal

Small dish: Grilled Japanese beef filet with starch power, boiled bamboo shoot, and Japanese pepper flower {as we don’t eat meat, they served us a lovely lobster instead}

lobster course ryokan dinnner

Rice dish: Seasoned burdock rice, anago (sea eel) boiled with arima pepper, assorted Japanese pickles, and dark miso soup with seaweed

unagi and rice course

Dessert: Loquat and warabimochi (bracken startch dumpling) with soybean flour

cherries and japanese jelly dessert

like a bowl of cherries

Surprise! While we finished dinner, Taka-san left a little treat for us.  On our bedside table was a note wishing us sweet dreams and a little something to be enjoyed as a late night snack.

sweet dreams note from taka-san