AWOMB gion yasaka
After spending a few hours in the morning walking around Ninenzaka district, Kōdaiji Temple, and Yasaka Shrine, Aashish and I were ready for our first lunch in Kyoto :)
To get there, we had to sneak through a low-key and narrow alley between two buildings in the middle of a street block. It looks like this. Obviously, we missed it first time around.
By and by, when we came out of the long alley, we were in a some sort of historic neighborhood (there was a street sign about it).
With only a few people walking around, it was very serene :)
We arrived shortly. Once we passed the main “gate” of the place, we faced the front door. It really looked like any other traditional Japanese house, and this really set the tone of the experience that we were about to have.
The hostess was kind and welcoming. We took our shoes off and went on to the tatami floor. We were seated at a shared table (as you can see, the place is very cozy) on the floor.
We ordered the main lunch menu called Teae Sushi. It was ¥ 2,970 per person (about $27USD).
First, we were served with some tea. It came with a tiny bowl containing an umeboshi, roasted black beans (peeled), and dried kombu. They added some texture to the tea (quite literally). It was very pleasant.
We asked for a beer recommendation, and soon enough we were drinking Machiya Beer from a local brewery. They were served with small icy cups made of stone, not your everyday beer glass. Not sure how to describe it, but it was really good.
Soon enough our lunch arrived. It took a bit to set everything up as there were multiple components to the meal.
This was a pleasing presentation of casual kaiseki. Traditional kaiseki is usually a multi-course meal, but they orchestrated all the “courses” at once and gave us the feeling of eating at home.
Every small plate was unique. There were a couple of seasonal sashimi dishes, while others had grilled or blanched seafood. Even the vegetables were prepared in various ways and were paired well with the fish and tofu. Everythng was plated beautifully.
Unlike the traditional kaiseki, the central concept around this is that you get to experiment with different combinations of food and make your own throughout the meal. With the (sushi) rice, you can make your own nigiri with the sashimi from one of the plates and the wasabi. Not in the picture, but they also gave us mini kits to roll our own maki or sushirritos 😉.
The upper part of the small “bowl” with shredded matcha omelet comes off, and the bottom bowl becomes your “food lab”. With that, you can also enjoy your Japanese versions of “poke”. Plates were delicate that they were enjoyable by themselves as well.
With the tea getting hot on fire, you can make ochazuke towards the end. It is a simple Japanese dish made by pouring tea over the leftover rice, and you can add little pieces from the plates like wasabi, salmon roe, and/or whatever you prefer. With a warm bowl of ochazuke, you can end the meal on a clean note.
Not going to lie, everything was super aesthetic. It was clear that they put a lot of thoughts into every component. All the ingredients tasted fresh, and the veggies had the natural sweetness to them. They had vegetables that I had never seen prior to this meal, but I’m not talking about those flowers.
I loved the time I spent at AWOMB. They presented the casual kaiseki and Japanese home cooking in an elaborate way, and the food was of high quality. The theatrics of composing my own pieces of sushi was fun, and I savored them thoroughly.
On a slightly different note, Aashish had to get up and stretch his legs in the middle of the meal. He was in a lot of pain as he wasn’t used to sitting on the floor with his legs folded under the table. Nonetheless, he enjoyed the overall experience as well :)
AWOMB gion yasaka
463-8 Shimokawarachō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0825, Japan