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2003年4月30日 (水)

「DINING OUT」 -Special to The Daily Yomiuri-

Great tempura offers another side to Kyoto !

-By Aidan O'Cnnor-

Spring is glorious time for rediscovering Kyoto.Not by visiting the same old sights but by taking the road less taraveled and discovering some of the lesser-known treasures. One such place is Kenninji temple south of Gion's main hub. Here the streets are just as atmospheric but less crowded, and the temple a peaceful oasis. Inside, the new and dramatic 108-tatami mat-sized ceiling painting of  fire-breathing dragons by Shunsaku Koizumi is a sight to behold.

Happilly there are some fine dining options to make a day out special. One of the best has to be spending a couple of hours at the counter of a tempura restaurant. Just around the corner from kenninji is Tempura Endo Yasaka.

The ambience is relaxed and light, and you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs at work. Few can resist the charms of good tempura.

For lunch, there are three courses to choose from. For something simple there is the tendon course, which includes a mixed fry served over rice with miso soup. Then there is the tempura course and tempura kaiseki. These allow you to be treated to wave after wave of scrumptious morsels.

The kaiseki course started with a Kyoto delicacy, yuba-age or fried soy-milk skin. This came in a soy-seasoned broth and was delicious. Then the tempura came, staring with a thin wedge of corn. Though there were three dips to choose from(salt, powdered green tea and tsuyu dipping sauce) we were recommended to try the salt - and with good reason. The sweetness of the corn and crisp skin were perfectry accented by a little salt.

Over the next hour or so one treat followed another. Particularly good were the otafukumame (a local variety of broad bean), amall cubes of bread with shrimp paste, zucchini slices and prawns. Making tempura this good may look simple but it is not. Each dish had been done to perfection.

The best tempura came last. Scallops and then oysters rolled in nori. There were silky soft inside with all the flavor sealed in the light coating. The tempura was punctuared with various dishes such as a salad of daikon slivers topped with paper-thin slivers of scrips, fried sweet potato and some delectable sea bream sashimi served with bamboo shoots.

There is a choice of rice dishes to finish, either a mini tendon that comes with some wonderfully fragrant sansho or Japanese pepper powder to spice it up or tencha, prawn and vegetable fritters served over rice with hot tea and wasabi. Both were very good.

Finally came the dessert of soft green tea ice cream. Made with soy milk, this was soft and smoothing. Though perhaps a little pricey it had been a memorable treat.

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