Sublime and melt-in-your-mouth – the ultimate in wagyu beef. If beef cuisine can be described as a craft, Chef Ito of Miyoshi is the perfect artisan. Kaiseki in Kyoto is already an incredible experience, and even for gourmands and beef connoisseurs, the flavors that burst from the cuisine at Miyoshi will create food memories that last a lifetime.
As night falls on the highly atmospheric geisha quarter, people make haste toward their evening engagements in the many narrow laneways of the neighborhood. A traditional Japanese building contrasting a black wooden façade with creamy stucco walls is accented by pale slatted wood sliding doors, green potted plants, and a washi paper lantern and crisp white noren saying Miyoshi, home of a beef artisan. Within, modern Japanese taste and low lighting creates a calming ambience. Comfortable leather chairs sink you into the warm, cozy interior of rich reds, glossy blacks and shiny gold as you take a seat at one of six counter seats or tables for a total of twelve guests. Ito works at the clean wood counter, sharpening his knives readying to slice, press, dip, and shape, creating unparalleled sumptuous beef cuisine.
Wagyu x Kaiseki
Chef Tsutomu Ito simply wants to serve incredible beef. He sees no need to fit into a specific category, but the infusion of seasonal touches throughout the dining experience is so in keeping with traditional haute Japanese cuisine that dining at Miyoshi feels like kaiseki. Ito’s polished sense, cultured outlook and unyielding pursuit of the freshest beef has earned him that lofty category. Each dish in the elaborate course includes meat in some manner. Aiming to bring out the very best flavors and considering the appeal of each part of the cow, Ito’s cuisine is at times minimalist to the extreme, and at others incredibly layered and complex.
Pureed white corn soup with kernels of grilled corn is topped with generous amounts of sea urchin. Not a single seasoning in sight, the dish is brought to life purely by the luscious salty flavors of the sea urchin. Next is the tender, glistening kombu kelp-pressed ox tongue, which must be tasted to be believed. This signature dish uses a traditional Japanese method more typically seen in seafood dishes and results in a luxuriously smooth and slippery texture that melts on your tongue. Cut at a 90-degree angle to conventional thinking, the slices of tongue at Miyoshi show you there is nothing ordinary here. You may have had tongue before, but you have never had this one.
The deep flavors of oxtail soup with winter melon are accented with the delicious taste of premium Kinka ham and topped with several slices of aromatic black truffle. Slices of beef are swiftly swished through piping hot liquid, heating them just enough to release the sweet, rich flavors of the meat that contrast perfectly with the cool, tart ponzu liquid. Then, the pinnacle of the course – steak. The beef is rested as the chef patiently waits for it to reach the perfect temperature. Seasoned only with salt and pepper, it is lovingly slow-cooked over charcoals, and by the time the beef reaches your plate, your taste buds are desperate to eat it.
Chef Ito selects the very best ingredients with total disregard for price. His search began by building relationships with farmers and suppliers, and studying under various experts in his field. Today, his personal connections built through regular farm visits are crucial to acquiring outstanding produce, especially the star – beef. Kobe-gyu is supplied by Kawagishi Wagyu Farm, which raises 180 head of Tajima-gyu cattle under clear skies amidst the mountains and clear-running streams of the Kakogawa River in Hyogo Prefecture. Omi-gyu comes from Nakagawa Farm in Shiga Prefecture, which has more than 160 years of history raising cattle, and many other delicious meat products are shipped directly from Seto Farm in Hiroshima. Seafood comes from a single trusted supplier, and vegetables are procured through one store in Kyoto’s central market. Because of the highest respect Ito pays to his suppliers, his requests for the best from amongst their produce are met, meaning his ingredients keep improving every year. And because Ito is constantly searching for the greatest potential in his ingredients and combinations, guests can expect a wonderful and new experience every time.
Wine, whisky, shochu, sake – the chef’s love of all alcoholic beverages has created a staggering collection ready to enjoy with your course. Chef Ito is particularly fond of Burgundy wines and recommends them especially for their affinity to the flavors of Japanese dashi featured in his cuisine. You can enjoy the famed wines of the small Richebourg vineyard that produces wines richly reflective of the unique terroir, as well as premier cru Bordeaux wines from Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateaux Margaux, and the unclassified but widely regarded small estate wine from Petrus in the Pomerol appellation.