The Seasons Change

I lived abroad in Kyoto all of last year. While I was there, I wanted to try the finest dining the country had to offer.

I went to four different restaurants, one in each season, so I could have all the different ingredients at their very best. Funnily enough, they all served the same courses, in the same order!

I wrote down each dish I ate, but I mixed them all up…

amberjack over rice (even though there was mochi in the course I just had?)
a slice of raw bonito (unfortunately this plate was nowhere near as pretty)
a tart salad with mizuna, carrot, and chrysanthemum flowers
a yomogimochi
ayu with eggplant and okra
bento of snacks to start: grilled matsutake, crispy seaweed, roast ginkgo nuts
bracken and ostrich fern, simmered and served alongside tofu. (tofu immediately again??)
crispy seaweed and nanohana "amuse-bouche"; marinated egg yolk
dandelion and cherry blossom chazuke (good follow-up to the soup course)
diced ginger and ume, caramelized and pickled (unusual — the course is usually vegetables)
ebi-imo, turnip and taro, simmered with duck
ebi sushi; persimmon and sesame salad, served on a beautiful plate
egg cake, kabosu sorbet, and a Japanese pear with honey!
enoki and shiitake mushroom soup, spring mountain asparagus
gizzard shad sashimi with ponzu puree
hotaru ika sushi for the early summer, with an eggplant and roasted corn side salad
hot ozoni soup
"ichiban" raw stripejack, wasabi
izakaya-style grilled bamboo shoots, salt
my least favorite dish, yuba sashimi
new butterbur shoot salad with vinegar dressing, as a palate cleanser
new jidori chicken with braised kabocha squash
northern Kyushu conger eel, grilled with ginger-soy glaze (definitely my favorite yakimono course I had)
octopus sushi, nuts and daikon for the second course; a perfect hassun for winter
onigiri of sea bream before dessert
oshinko roll with pickled vegetables for the second course (oh yeah — every dish here was vegetarian!)
pepper-crusted seared otoro (perfect right after the squash!)
shrimp-based soup with eggplant and sweet pepper, great for such a hot day
simmered abalone appetizer
soup of white miso, tofu, and chestnut — comforting, like the persimmon earlier
the final dish — candied kumquats
thin pacific saury, cooked whole, and the first rice harvest of the year!
tiny chawanmushi with poached anglerfish liver for the appetizer
tokyo wagyu, grilled over binchō-tan — a perfect contrast with the duck I just ate
wakame and radish salad, yuzu dressing
young peach and cherries, more caramelized ginger