193 Yumotochaya, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0312, Japan | website | map |
Since it is the 1st day of 2018, I just wanted to say thank you to the people that have supported our new blog. Even though we’re small now, we hope to grow in the coming years and really appreciate each and everyone that stops by to take a look. One of the things we’re most grateful for from 2017 is having the most wonderful food destinations on our doorstep now that we live in Singapore. The highlight of 2017 for me was visiting Japan, which has been on top of our list of places to visit for some time now. This post is all about Yushintei, the traditional ryokan (guesthouse) we stayed at in Hakone (1.5 hours on the train from Tokyo) where we had a very special kaiseki dinner and breakfast. Check out our other Japan blog posts.
Hakone is a beautiful and peaceful town with many onsens (hot springs) and, if you’re lucky, views of Mount Fuji. If you visit you should stay in a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese inn; you know, the ones you’ve seen in the movies with tatami mats everywhere and sliding paper doors. You usually sleep on the floor on a futon they make up for you once you have eaten your dinner. After eating, we went to Yushintei’s private onsen to relax in the hot spring together. Normally, you have women and men-only onsens so check if your ryokan has a private one you can book.
As this was a traditional Japanese meal we decided to have sake (served cold, as we are still in the process of training our sake-tastebuds to enjoy it hot); we also had beer, of course. The sake was really good and I think it depends on which sake you try if you like it or not, as there is a huge range out there. We would like to have a sake tasting one day.
Yushintei serves a kaiseki dinner and breakfast which is a multi-course, traditional Japanese meals, served in your room while you sit on the floor. Kaiseki is sometimes compared to Western haute cuisine where each dish is balanced for taste, texture, and colour. Kaiseki is an art-form where dishes are beautifully presented with inspiration from the season. There is often garnishes of leaves and flowers as well as representations of animals to give respect to the natural earth.
The first course was a sashimi, fish in broth, smoked fish, and pickled vegetables. It was like being served a treasure trove of tasty jewels that you don’t know quite what they are. It was a very exciting experience.
Next was Shabu-shabu which is where you are served thin slices of meat and vegetables that you cook yourself by dipping into a boiling pot of broth. The dipping sauce is just heaven, a sour sesame, I could drink that all day long!
The final savoury course was rolled fish with deep-fried soba noodles served with pickles, and a fried crab croquette beautifully garnished with noodles that looked with cherry blossom.
The dessert was incredible. I shit you not, it tasted exactly like Engish trifle (which is hands down my favourite dessert – Jelly, custard, sponge, cream, whats not to like?!) I don’t know how they did it but somehow they have made a sweet potato taste exactly like the much-loved pudding from my childhood.
In the morning we were treated to lots of bits and bobs, there was omelette, smoked salmon, fish patty, potato salad, tofu and mushroom broth, miso soup, rice, and pickles. I love how you always get potato salad in Japan, it’s like they take the random dishes from the West and make them infinitely better and tastier (note, they also do this with egg mayo). The smoked salmon was divine. There was something very soothing and wholesome about the tofu broth, you felt ready to start your day and made you forget about the copious amount of food and drink you consumed the night before.
If you go to Japan you must stay in a Ryokan with an onsen and eat a delicious kaiseki dinner. It was a highlight of our trip and we highly recommend Yushintei if you find yourself in Hakone.