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Kyoto

Hassun

八寸

Hassun feels like it has been polished by the passing of time, with a charming old-style air rarely felt in these times. The chef’s sharpened sensibilities create a dining experience that is the picture of Japanese refinement, and true to the restaurant’s name, Hassun has perfected the art of capturing the season in its sumptuous cuisine.

The essence of Kyoto, Gion never fails to excite your senses. Wherever you turn, a narrow cobblestone laneway, softly-lit lanterns and the distinctive clip-clop of geisha’s geta as they head to evening engagements. Stroll slightly north of Shijo-dori Boulevard and you'll discover Hassun, first established in 1975 and now in the highly capable hands of second-generation Kanji Kubota.

The doors open to reveal a magnificent eight-meter single-plank counter made from Bishu hinoki Japanese cypress, a product impossible to procure today. And in pride of place behind where the chef stands, a menu from Hasshin, where the first-generation chef began his training. The Hassun name was chosen for two reasons: with one character different to Hasshin, it is intended to show the original chef’s gratitude for the start he got there; and named for the hassun course in traditional kaiseki cuisine, it expresses the intention to captivate customers with Japanese dishes showcasing the best seasonal ingredients from the mountains and seas.

These days the baton has been passed to the younger Kanji Kubota, and having been awarded two Michelin stars in the latest edition, critics are clearly pleased with the good old-fashioned style that Hassun maintains. The chef talks about renovating the space sometime soon, but within that desire is a reticence to alter too much of deep flavor that has been achieved through the passing of time. As night falls, the father and son pair both slip their feet into high-platform geta sandals and get to work with their exquisite techniques.

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CUISINE

The art of capturing the season in its sumptuous cuisine

This is quintessential Japanese cuisine, so prepare all your senses for a meal that will become a treasured memory forever. Carrying on the traditions of fine food culture of old, never swayed by trends and sticking steadfastly to their own style of cuisine and hospitality, to dine at Hassun is to be offered a rare glimpse into the history and culture of Kyoto cuisine.

While the ingredients change with the key seasons in Japan’s traditional lunisolar calendar, the course at Hassun always consists of ten dishes in traditional kaiseki format: sakizuke appetizer, hassun showcasing the best from the mountains and seas and setting the seasonal theme, otsukuri sashimi, owan lidded bowl, takiawase combination of dashi-infused ingredients, sunomo vinegared dish, oshinogi sushi morsels, yakimono grilled dish, rice, and lastly, refreshing sweets.

With impact so outstanding you instantly appreciate the restaurant’s name, the hassun dish is a stunning, meticulously prepared platter of blessings from the mountains and seas. Each bite prepared individually with its own characteristic flavor profile entices the taste buds and leaves a deep impression of the chef’s intentions and skills. Sweet-simmered moroko gudgeon fish, roast duck, kobakogani female snow crab, salmon-wrapped soft poached egg, candied chestnuts, ginkgo nuts and Japanese yam bulbs skewered on pine needles. The platter is a veritable gift bound to leave you wavering as to which of the delectable bites to eat first and which to save for last.

This may be followed by luscious, velvety chawanmushi savory egg custard filled with flavor from salted sea cucumber innards, said to be one of Japan’s three best delicacies, and topped with thick yuzu sauce, for a dish that makes the sake flow. Sashimi platters showcase the chef’s incredible knife skills with paper thin slices of Awaji sea bream, glistening wild striped jack fish from Oita, and oval squid made perfectly tender with countless fine knife cuts. A lidded bowl may include a generous portion of tilefish with grilled mochi. Wafting with rich yuzu aroma and floating in a delectable dashi made from kombu and five-year-aged bonito, the flavor is exquisitely balanced by a pinch of salt.

Hiuo baby sweetfish from Shiga Prefecture are freshly boiled and served with cucumber and grated daikon in a traditional vinegar soy sauce combination called nibaizu to create a refreshing vinegared dish. The accompanying ingredients were carefully selected as sweetfish are said to take on the fresh aromas of cucumber as they grow. It's a fascinating combination.

The final savory course served with pure and simple white rice is wild eel from Lake Biwa, first grilled plain and then slowly grilled and basted with a rich sweetened soy sauce. Watching the preparation is a tease for the taste buds. And once you eat this amazing dish you will likely already be dreaming about your next trip to Hassun.

INGREDIENTS
Hassun’s seafood is sourced from a trusted local fishmonger, although some varieties are sent directly from ports around Japan: fresh-caught sea bream from Awaji on the Seto Inland Sea; mackerel and other silver-skin fish from the Bungo Channel between Oita and Ehime; and Lake Biwa wild unagi eel from a long-time supplier there. Kubota’s excellent relationships even help him secure incredibly rare Taiza crab, a winter delicacy from the Japan Sea-side of Kyoto Prefecture. Rice is sourced from a farm in Niigata run by a former superior of Chef Kubota – beautiful grains of the Koshihikari variety which recently regained its crown as the highest-grade rice in the country. Used for the grilled course, Kishu Binchotan is widely recognized as the finest cooking charcoal, grilling ingredients without imparting smoke or interfering with their innate flavors.

As for drinks, the limited menu at Hassun is another throwback to the past. The sake selection cannot be described as a list or even a line-up because Kubota serves just one variety. A junmai-shu from local Kyoto brewer Sawaya Matsumoto, the chef loves how it accents and complements his cuisine.

Hassun cuisine #0
Hassun cuisine #1

CHEF

Kanji Kubota

Born in Kyoto in 1976, Kanji Kubota was raised observing his chef father. Never once did his father suggest he take over the restaurant. On the contrary, he strongly urged him to avoid a career in the world of cooking. But it was inevitable. Kanji had already been enthralled by Japanese cuisine. When regular customers pleaded with the high-school aged Kanji to take over the restaurant in the future, he was made keenly aware of Hassun’s significance to so many. And that was when he made the decision to take over someday.

But his training did not begin at home. At 18 years old, Kanji left for Tokyo and a tea kaiseki restaurant in Mejiro called Wako. Over eight years, he built a foundation in Japanese cuisine before returning to his family home to essentially start over again. He discovered major differences between Tokyo- and Kyoto-style Japanese cuisine, and locally available ingredients dictated the need for entirely new skills. For example, his homecoming presented him with moroko for the first time. A slender freshwater fish in the gudgeon family, if it were not for the senior Kubota, he would not have known how to handle it. But the lessons from his father went well beyond technical skills to the importance of respect for one’s suppliers and other points that contribute to his ongoing success in the culinary world. Aware that others may call him old-fashioned, Kubota remains boldly determined to treasure the fundamentals of Japanese cuisine. And with that mission, he intends to never betray the expectations of his regular customers, while also taking fresh inspiration from a new wave of overseas guests.

VISION
The chef’s very clear vision is to remain devoted both to his cuisine and his beloved location. And while the space may receive a makeover in the near future, the treasured hinoki counter will forever remain the centerpiece of this dining institution. Despite having already raised three apprentices and another who recently went independent, Kubota is confident there are still plenty of skills to pass on and share, and he expresses a strong desire to keep training chefs who can carry on the splendid traditions of Japanese cuisine.

TABLEWARE

While you may expect the tableware at such a traditional eatery to be mostly antiques, the Hassun collection is in fact primarily the work of modern craftsmen visited personally by the chef. The pieces are awe-inspiring. Brightly colored plates and sake cups by local third-generation Kiyomizu-yaki potter Shokoku Kano carry the mark of hachi, or eight – the first character of the Hassun restaurant name and proof of the objects’ originality. Exquisite tokkuri sake pourers are the works of Bizen ware ceramic artist Tetsu Fujiwara and his son Yu Fujiwara, both living national treasures of Japan. What a rare treat to partake in and compare the enjoyment of sake from vessels made by such a distinguished father-and-son pair.

Course

Lunch
Hassun lunch course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥15,500
¥15,500
Reservation Request
Dinner
Hassun A course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥26,500
¥26,500
Reservation Request
Dinner
Hassun B course (More luxurious ingredients)
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥38,000
¥38,000
Reservation Request
Dinner
Hassun special course (the most luxurious ingredients)
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥49,000
¥49,000
Reservation Request

Kyoto

Hassun

八寸

MICHELIN
2
STAR
PRICE
¥15,500
~
CHILD
0
& UP
VEGAN
WELCOME
PRIVATE ROOM
For 1-8
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Kaiseki, Gion
ADDRESS
1F, Japan, 〒605-0085 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Sueyoshicho, 95
OPEN
Lunch:12PM-1PM (LO), Dinner: 6PM-8PM (LO)
CLOSED
Sunday
URL
NA
PHONE
+81-75-561-3984

RESERVATION

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