One for the Body, One for the Soul

I take it back: I do believe in good Japanese food, I do, I do, I do!
One for the body was dinner at Ishibekoji Kamikura.
This tiny restaurant holds all but eight counter seats for eight lucky diners, a chef, two sous-chefs, and a hostess/sommelier/waitress. The restaurant is located on one of the most charming streets in town in what looks like a private house, with no sign posted outside, no house number to be found anywhere, and no street name visible (the latter is rather common in Japan). Fearing that we’d never find it in the darkness, we scouted it out during the day. Thanks to the MiFi, we found the street – tucked in a neighborhood set between many temples on one of the intersecting narrow streets where the road is paved with stone slabs and high walls with round stones on the bottom and stucco on top hide the mansions beyond, with only ornate roofs and gates revealed to the passerby.
We walked up and down the street and found no traces of the restaurant. Luckily, there was a jewelry shop open at that hour, and the shop owner walked out of her store, leaving the door ajar, and led us to an unmarked door, which was our destination.
Good thing we scouted it out during the day – we would’ve never found it at night when the small jewelry shop was closed and there would be no one to ask.
So when we showed up at night for our dinner, we found the restaurant’s gate open. We walked through the gate and down to the front door, which was…locked.
You can’t really knock on a shoji door and there was no doorbell, only a keypad, but we didn’t know the combination;-)
So we went back up to the gate and found a doorbell.
We rang.
We saw a movement below, behind the front door, and a woman wearing a kimono opening it.
We rushed back down and were admitted inside.
At the counter, which was the restaurant, we joined the other six diners and were served a truly haute cuisine dinner of nine courses including melon soup with prawn pieces and a grape , sashimi and grilled meat that were melting in your mouth, and my favorite dish of the evening: thick soup with edible flowers with a single dumpling made of ground lotus and stuffed with seafood.
That was not dinner, this was an experience!.
We walked back to the hotel following the route that our MiFi laid out for us. It took us through dark alleys, which nothing would entice me to enter anywhere else in the world at such late hour. But here, it was all but natural. Dark and empty alleys felt perfectly safe, the feeling of safety confirmed by an occasional octogenarian or a young girl passing us in the dark.
That was for the body.
For the soul, there were wonderful Kyoto temples, of which we visited 3 or 4 – they do tend to blend together after awhile.
However, I exhausted myself writing about food and will have to come back to the subject of temples tomorrow.


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