So on Saturday night, in Tokyo living a #Travelife, we had dinner at Kien, an intimate kaiseki restaurant in the Akasaka district of Tokyo.
It's a small place with a counter for seven and about two even smaller private rooms, and Kien has one Michelin star.
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In Tokyo, one of the cities with the most number of Michelin stars in the world, this isn't a very big deal, but I think Kien serves very good classical food at an extremely reasonable price for Tokyo.
THE BEST FOOD IN JAPAN
Kaiseki is the most refined of Japanese cuisine and it's really an experience, although some foreigners may not really appreciate its overly subtle tastes. There are no strong flavours in kaiseki meals, but everything is a lovely sensory experience.
This is also the most expensive of Japanese meals.
THE FAMOUS RESTAURANTS
In a famous Michelin three-star kaiseki restaurant, dinner for two can easily cost the same as an airline ticket to Europe.
There are usually no menus with prices either, because the famous kaiseki restaurants in Japan usually feel that if you know enough about them to make a booking with them, you won't need to ask the price of the meal.
In this sense, Kien is a bargain, especially as it's very good. And this is the kind of place local residents prefer compared to the very famous restaurants of Tokyo which are booked mainly by visitors from overseas these days.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF TOKYO
We had friends from England visiting who happened to be old Japan hands as well.
So our initial thought was to book Pachon, a fancy old French restaurant in the Daikanyama area that used to be the go-to place for all the expatriates with cash to burn before all these trendy contemporary restaurants started popping up all over the city.
AN OLD-FASHIONED FRENCH RESTAURANT
Pachon had a fireplace, very Old World interiors, and a traditional seasonal French menu that offered roast meats and cassoulet in the autumn and winter. Everyone who has lived in Tokyo in a certain way has memories of Pachon.
Unfortunately, Pachon was full so we booked Kien instead. And this is how I was reminded once more of just how good a meal here is, especially for what it costs.
10 COURSES IN A KAISEKI MEAL
AND NOT TOO MANY PHOTOS
We had something like 10 courses but I don't think I took photos of all the dishes as sometimes we were so engrossed in conversation and too busy catching up.
Conversation-wise, it was interesting that several people we knew in common were now the global CEOs of very well-known companies, while others had left the finance industry altogether to do fun things like buy hotels, launch schools or just take it easy and enjoy life.
As for me, I really enjoyed that meal on Saturday, at the Michelin-starred Kien in Tokyo, living a never-endingly delicious #Travelife.