Yakumo Saryo

Milady A - Saturday, April 09, 2016

All nice stories come to an end, so did our unique adventure through Japan unfortunately.

We ended our trip throughout Japan back in Tokyo where we started and stayed there another two days. Our last evening on Japanese grounds ended in style with the perfect dinner at the perfect place.

The restaurant I am writing about is hidden away in Tokyo’s quiet suburban neighborhood of Yakumo, which translates to ‘Eight Clouds’, funny enough they call a dinner at that restaurant “A dinner in the sky”.
Our taxi driver had a hard time finding the secluded restaurant, so we drove around and around until we finally had to tell him to call the restaurant … and there it was, hiding behind high walls and threes. The maître guided us through the impressive entrance as we stepped into the exclusive setting of Yakumo Saryo!

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Forbes Magazine already wrote very positively about this place: “Forget Michelin, forget the World’s 50 Best, it’s this discreet, understated otherworldliness of “Yakumo Saryo” that wins the race.”

So did it for us!

Shinichiro Ogata, well known for his interior work on Andaz Tokyo, Aesop and the elegant Wasara product line, is the designer of this extraordinary place, which he turned into a haven of purity and formality of traditional Japanese food.

As soon as you step on the grounds of this restaurant, you feel the exclusive flair whispering in the air.
Dinner at Yakumo Saryo is very exclusive as it is by ‘invitation only’, similar to a private membership club.
New diners must be introduced by somebody who has already been there and who is therefore already a member.
Once you have dined, you may revisit any time from there on.
How cool is that!!
We had our introduction by the concierge of the ĀMAN hotel and now we are in, forever.

As of the first moment we walked into the house, our eye fell right away on the selection of wagashi, which stands for traditional Japanese sweets and confectionaries like manju dumplings, handmade in the kitchen and available for purchasing of course.

The restaurant lies however on the left side of the house, where on the right you can find the teahouse, where tea is served in the traditional Japanese style.
We have had kaiseki dinners before, but here the experience was totally different. Otaga’s goal is to demonstrate that there are many new ways in which Japanese cuisine can be prepared on top of those traditional styles such as Kaiseki. He wants to combine the best of both worlds, eating modern Japanese cuisine based off of his own traditional food culture.

We chose the full menu and the most extraordinary tastes came by … all to trigger our five senses.

The Amuse was made of an Infusion of Tonin, the peach seed’s core, followed by a seasonal starter, which was clam risotto.
The chef likes to work with ingredients coming out of the specific season and therefore a next ‘seasonal’ starter was brought to our table and was heaven on earth. I felt like dining at the 3* Michelin restaurant “Hertog Jan” in Belgium as we got there something similar from their amazing garden.
This time we got the twelve vegetables salad, wrapped by Ashitaba green burdock, lotus roots, carrot, Kon Nyaku potato cake, spikenard, chinese mushrooms, browned sesame seeds, Komatuna spinach, Hijiki sea plants, lily bulb and chicory.

A miracle on our tongue …

The next in line was a clear soup with Shirako Dake, white bamboo shoots and ‘Hoshiko’ which seemed to be a dried sea delicacy.

But I wanted to know what kind of sea delicacy was swimming within our soup and maybe I shouldn’t have asked because we were eating the ovaries of a fish Hoshiko which is a true delicacy in Japan. The price for the tiny, little ovary he showed us (see picture) is worth 20.000 YEN, which is 165 euro.

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I won’t mention all the dishes in detail, the true experience is really in the happening itself, being there, tasting, looking, experimenting …
My love normally always takes the full series of wine tasting but this restaurant had something special for both of us. Mr Big got a series of special sake tastings and for Milady’s like me - who have enough with one glass of alcohol - they served a special glass of tea, totally non-alcoholic of course, each time different in line with the tastes of each dish. Extraordinary!

For every dish that was presented at our table, we also got a classy, small paper explaining in English what kind of delightful foods were being served.

At the end of such Kaiseki-type dinners, there is always a rice dish. It was obvious that the sticky white rice was noticeably very precious to them as they came to show the bowl of rice with such a pride that a question in my head popped up and I wanted to know the story behind their visible pride.
We learned that each grain of rice is sizably large, separated just enough to still cling. We also got different chop sticks for eating our rice, both with a pointed ending. We were told that this also has a specific meaning in their culture: one side is for yourself, to eat ‘your’ rice, and the other side is meant for ‘God’.

“Rice is like God to us!” they said.

The full menu with all its different tastings was in one word: undescribable. Moreover the minimalist setting fits perfectly with the atmosphere the restaurant wants to spread and definitely pays attention to detail, for example the handmade lacquered bowls and plates, always different at every dish, but each time even more beautiful.

More on photography.milady-a.com
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More on photography.milady-a.com
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Yakumo Saryo leaves your mouth and mind rekindled … and these words fit perfectly to describe our amazing, one-of-a-kind experience in Japan!


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