07. Lunch at Kodaiji-Hashiba (Higashiyama, Kyoto)—Ken
There's a great walk, lined with little shops, going Northward from Kiyumizu-dera and up past the other nearby temples. There are probably a dozen or more places to eat, and we struck gold with the one we found.
Across the street from Kodaiji there's a wonderful little handicraft center with more than ten small stores. The silk and fabric store caught our eye and we bought a few small things.
Actually we were on our way to see some street or other that was supposed to be nearby and very charming. So we asked the young woman at the store how to get there and she walked out to the street with us and pointed the way, very sweetly.
Following that little excursion we were back by the handicraft center, but now we were ready for lunch. Since the shopgirl spoke English pretty well, I explained our vegetarian predicament. She said, essentially, "Oh, you have to try the restaurant upstairs." Kathryn wasn't so sure, but I said, let's let her show us the place.
We walked around a special staircase by the shops and up to the second story of the building where there's a great restaurant overlooking the garden on two sides. The elegant woman who ran the place seated us right away--and then the long negotiation began.
Contrary to what our shopgirl thought, they didn't have a vegetarian set. But that wasn't the end of the story, it was just the beginning. One by one, our girl and the owner went to work swapping item for item until the two of them had devised an original meal that was completely for us. And then they told us the price in advance (only fair) and the shopgirl left us to our meal.
We were in for a real treat.
We started with three tastes of tofu. The sesame (left one) was amazing! Plus wheat gluten on a skewer with miso and some other sauce.
I was so happy I barely knew where to start.
Tempura, tofu, rice--just divine.
Kathryn loved it too--especially the flat metal mesh spoon with the long handle used to fish out whole cubes of tofu from the steaming pot. (Note to self: Where can we get one.)
My bowl of steamed tofu with soy sauce, ginger, and green onions. Oh my.