Jimi Kogetsu: Authentic Japanese cuisine so good there's a 2-year wait for a lunch reservation!
Yes, you read that right. You’ll have to book your lunch 2 years in advance here. And when I arrived, the restaurant was at full capacity with people who had done just that.
Today’s lunch was the TSUKI Course for 3,240 yen. It featured everything from the YUKI Course, which goes for 2,160 yen, (a traditional appetizer platter, white miso soup, sashimi, a lidded dish, rice, and dessert) plus a main dish of either meat or fish.
Photo: Hassun (appetizer platter)
The platter of seasonal, bite-sized appetizers is always an exciting part of Japanese Kaiseki-Ryori, or traditional multi-course meals. As my visit lined up with the Doll Festival (March 3), a dainty peach blossom was incorporated in the presentation as well.
Sprinkled with powder made from concentrated milk, the brussel sprouts in the middle looked like they were covered with a layer of fresh snow. The red and white radishes filled with a mixture of yellowtail and marmalade were delightful and so were the rape blossoms tossed in mustard.
A piece of tamago-yaki, or rolled omelet, was hiding, nestled in the back, too. The thickly sliced omelet featured perfectly balanced accents of leek.
The sakura chip-smoked firefly squid was both aromatic and delectable. And the deep-fried isaza goby, a fish from Lake Biwa, coated with dried seaweed was crunchy and savoury.
There was also an “Orient Clam Shell Game.” The name comes from a game played in ancient Japan where people would race to see who could re-match the most separated clam shells, kind of like “memory.” This dish contained a flavourful mixture of dried kumquat and clam sashimi.
The edible chrysanthemums and shiitake mushrooms in tofu, sesame, and white miso packed some full-bodied flavour, too!
Next up was a bowl of white miso soup. The soup was both complex and rich with soft, chewy baobab leaf dumplings. The crunchy deep-fried icefish paired with the creamy miso wonderfully.
At this point, I decided it was time to order myself some sake. I asked for some local, warmed sake and went with their recommendation of "Myojin." Here, they even let you select a small cup of your preference to drink from. How neat is that!
Then, I moved on to the sashimi portion of the meal. The light brown powder pictured above is, interestingly enough, freeze-dried soy sauce from Kagawa's KAMEBISHIYA!
Young bluefin tuna sashimi with dried seaweed, a side of wasabi, and a soy sauce lemon peel marmalade.
Pictured above is rice boiled only until the moment the grains become cooked rice. The sweet, al dente-textured rice went well with a dash of Hikone City's unrefined soy sauce.
Today's lidded dish was a savoury steamed lotus root custard using local lotus roots. Hidden inside were chunks of delectable Kurao pork which comes from pigs raised on—believe it or not—Baumkuchen!
It just seems natural to pair cuisine made with local ingredients with local cold sake, does it not? With that in mind, I ordered some of Shiga's famous Matsu no Tsukasa.
For the main course there was a choice of either Omi beef or fish. I always go for the meat option, and, this time especially, I’m sure glad I did.
What presentation! The Omi beef looked simply divine with an arrangement of coarse salt, wasabi, and whole grain mustard for you to self-season it with. The carefully placed broccoli stem, green onion root, and Romanesco broccoli added a nice touch as well.
The succulent meat was delicious, and there was a different flavour to explore with each bite!
You’ll be happy to hear that this restaurant offers bottomless rice. You’re free to enjoy as much fluffy, white rice as you so desire.
Arriving with the rice was some miso-dressed broccoli, pickled mackerel (a local delicacy), dried daikon, as well as an assortment of pickled vegetables (kelp, Japanese yam, and Chinese cabbage).
This next dish was a special request made on my part, one which they were happy to meet. The rice was topped with shredded dried seaweed, wasabi, a raw egg yolk, and a splash of soy sauce—and man, was it scrumptious. I was also able to enjoy some of the scorched rice from the bottom of the pot with salt.
The dessert, strawberry sauce over sherbet made from the by-product of sweet rice wine, was not only tasty, but quite cute, too. It looked like a peach blossom.
Before leaving, I enjoyed a cup of hot tea and a side of soy beans. The meal left me impressed beyond words from start to finish. No. It wasn't just a meal, but rather an experience. One that I won't soon forget.
If you’re looking to make a lunch reservation, keep in mind that the waiting list is currently at a two-and-a-half-year wait. The wait is undoubtedly worthwhile if you’re looking for authentic cuisine on a budget, but the dinner menu is on the affordable side as well. You can often drop by for dinner without a reservation, so choose what works best for you. I urge you to try Jimi Kogetsu regardless!
Basic information on Jimi Kogetsu
- Front Kusatsu Bldg B1F 1-11-14 Oji, Kusatsu City, Shiga[MAP]
- Lunch (Mon., Thurs., Fri., Sat.) 12:00-14:30 (Enter by 13:00)
Dinner (Closed Tuesday) 18:00-23:00 (L.O. 22:30)
- Tuesday, Last day of the month
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