What is Kyo Ryori, Commonly Seen in Kyoto?
Kyo Ryori is commonly seen at ryotei and kappo restaurants in Kyoto—but do you know what it actually is? In this article, we provide a detailed description of Kyo Ryori.
Overview of Kyo Ryori
Kyo Ryori is the general term for five types of cuisine that developed over the ages in Kyoto, including Daikyo Ryori, Shojin Ryori, Honzen Ryori, Kaiseki Ryori, and Obanzai. The term refers to the food, created through cooking techniques centered around dashi stock, as well as the practice of plating and serving them, all stemming from traditional culture.
What are the Five Types of Japanese Cuisine?
Banquet cuisine that developed as a part of the social etiquette of the aristocracy.
Luxurious cuisine made with limited ingredients due to religious restrictions at temples and shrines, particularly in Zen Buddhism. The ingredients are primarily vegetables.
A type of cuisine for entertaining that developed in a society centered on samurai warriors.
Cuisine served at tea ceremonies and related events that developed among the samurai and merchant classes influenced by Sado (Way of Tea) philosophy and style.
Home-cooked food popularly served at home.
Visually Beautiful Kyo Ryori
The use of seasonal ingredients and preparing them to bring out the natural flavors is fundamental to Kyo Ryori. Techniques that were developed to maintain the freshness of the ingredients, such as the quick and efficient use of knives, is also crucial. It is also very important that the food be visually appealing so it is presented with the colors, size, and texture in harmony, and on plates that represent the season.
The Seasons in Kyo Ryori
It is very important to the Japanese people to incorporate the seasons in various aspects of life. Kyo Ryori is also full of the essence of the four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter.
Major ingredients that represent the spring include bamboo shoots and mountain vegetables from the mountains and Japaneses Spanish mackerel and ocellated octopus from the sea. The dishes at this time of the year are often presented with sweet and florid decorations using flowers such as plum and cherry blossoms.
Conger eel is the star ingredient of the summer season. Its refreshing flavors signal the arrival of summer in Kyoto. Ayu sweetfish, which are available at the start of the summer, and Kamonasu eggplants, which are cooked with miso and other flavors, are also important ingredients. They are presented in a manner that expresses coolness both visually and by texture by using greenery such as bamboo grass, water, ice and glass.
Matsutake mushrooms are the most representative ingredients of the fall season. They are expensive, but their rich aroma makes them a special ingredient that is irreplaceable to the Japanese people. Chestnuts and Ayu sweetfish with roe are also major fall ingredients. Dishes at this time of the year tend to be presented elegantly with decorations such as colorful fall foliage.
The kings of winter flavors are crab and fugu (pufferfish), both of which are luxurious ingredients with rich umami flavors. Fatty mackerel and wholesome Japanese turnips are also considered to be key winter ingredients. The dishes tend to be presented with delicate decorations using winter flowers, such as camellia, and powder to represent snow.
What is Kaiseki Ryori?
Kaiseki Ryori (written as 会席料理) , which is often seen at restaurants that serve Kyo Ryori, is a type of banquet cuisine that combines Shojin Ryori, Honzen Ryori and traditional Kaiseki Ryori (written as 懐石料理). It was developed and popularized as a cuisine for drinking parties during the Edo Period (1603 - 1867) and has become one of the most ubiquitous Japanese cuisines at banquets and ceremonial events such as wedding and funeral receptions. There are no strict rules about the structure of the menu, but it is usually served as a course and is served so that the food can be enjoyed with sake.
Ingredients Indispensable to Kyo Ryori
Kyoto was the capital of Japan from the end of the eighth century. Vegetables that were presented to Kyoto from various regions were bred to create unique Kyoto vegetables. Those that have been continuously cultivated since the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912) are called Kyo Yasai. Some examples include Kujo Negi scallions, Ebiimo taro, Mibuna mustard greens and Kamonasu eggplants.
Aka-amadai (Horsehead Tilefish)
This is a fish with white meat and a light and elegant flavor that is generally called "guji" in the Kansai region. It can be prepared in several different ways, most commonly seen grilled with salt, dried, marinated in miso or as sashimi.
Kyo Ryori can be enjoyed in a variety of locations in Kyoto, including Gion and Arashiyama. Be sure to give it a try.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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