Noted by the Financial Times as “…one of the very best…” image/svg+xml

Kitcho Arashiyama Honten Reviews

This is a three-hour immersion in a different culture. It is an epicurean event that should not be missed. It is a combination of theater, art display, and history lecture. Let me state up front that the cost of this event is prohibitively expensive, putting it out of reach for most budget, medium, and even premium economy travelers. For our group of three people, the bill came to well over $2,200 US dollars. Before you turn away in disgust, take a moment to study the opening volley of this review. For how much are we paying now for tickets to Broadway or West End performances? I know Hamilton tickets were selling for a thousand dollars each, but it’s becoming more typical to spend $500 or more for most major performances, and second sale concert tickets are often priced the same. After all, spending this much money on a fine meal in Kyoto followed by a hot-ticket show, plus transportation, can easily add up to a two-grand night. It’s easy to see why you would have no buyers’ remorse spending this much money on this meal in the exotic location of Kyoto, and for something that is sure to become the most memorable part of your Japan trip. At the time of booking your reservation, you will be prompted to choose from one of three prix fixe meals selections. Before tax and gratuity, the cost per person is 45,000, 52,000, or 60,000 Yen. We went the entire nine yards.

This is a typical Ryokan setup, with people seated on the floor and a low lacquer table, which is very basic. According to what I know, you may be the only party in the room, and you could even be the only party in the whole home. In order to provide some background music, we utilized our phones, which I thought was lacking. The room was a touch too quiet, but having a decent playlist playing really helped us feel more at ease, which is exactly what the staff wanted us to experience. There are multiple waitresses, one of them is the owner’s wife, who also serves as the chef’s assistant. They chat to you over tea about allergies and foods you may or may not enjoy, but be advised that there will almost certainly be some items you don’t like out of the literally 50 bits of food you are sampling. However, while everything is of the greatest quality and you learn a bit about the origin and heritage of many dishes, the cuisine is strictly Japanese in nature and contains many foods that Westerners would find foreign and even unpleasant. Even though it was a fish-heavy supper (in keeping with their diet), there were vegetables provided with every dish, and there were two beef courses and a chicken course (one Kobe and the other a more local Wagyu).

Each meal was brought out and exhibited in such an elegant and beautiful manner that it seemed a pity to damage it by eating it. As a result, a tray would come with one of the sushi courses on it, which was set up like a diorama of an undersea world. The next course, which was also sushi, had a cherry blossom theme, and by this I don’t just mean that cherry blossoms were placed on the tray; I mean that the food was designed to look like the flowers….pieces of lump lobster, each with a dot of pink roe atop, arranged in a clump of three, sitting beside green spiced leaf veg, artfully interspersed with delicate twigs of fried kelp, to create the perfect Art.

As one of our primary servers entered the room with a big, covered boiling silver tureen, which upon opening the lid revealed a burning bamboo shoot heart, it became one of our favorite meals of the evening. A special table had been set up, and the master of the ginzu knife got to work cutting it up for us. It was delicious! Everything about it was wonderful – a cross between artichoke hearts and heart of palm. We were served our meal with a variety of delicious sauces to dip our breadsticks in. It went on and on, course after course, saki drink after saki sip, for hours on end. Moreover, even though you leave stuffed, you are not ill in the same manner that you would be if you ate the same quantity of food off one plate in a half hour as you did here, over a period of 2 1/2 hours, eating a bit at a time

This is a lunch that you will remember for a long time.

Cuisine Type: Japanese

Specialties:

Address: 58 Sagatenryuji-susukinobabacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, 616-8385, Japan

Phone: +81 75-881-1101

Website: Kitcho Arashiyama Honten Official Site

Hours: Closed: Wednesday

Michelin Stars: 3