And once again I had found myself in Osaka, the nation’s kitchen and a city that I’m very fond of. Since it’s the first time my parents and I traveled to Japan together, I was looking for a special place/meal to cap off our trip. In my mind, Osaka has always kept a high standard for food which I do appreciate.
One of its institutions is Kigawa, a restaurant specializing in kappo (割烹) cuisine caught my attention while doing research since I like that whole “leave it to the chef” style of ordering. What I understand of kappo cuisine is that they harness the freshest seasonal ingredients when preparing a menu and the diners gets to watch the chef work everything in front of them. Open kitchens and tasting menus are always an A+ in my book.
First off, one of the chefs asked us if we had any dietary restrictions and I was the only one who piped up and said dairy. We then started our kappo journey immediately with a cup of fresh watercress soup (座). While it was warm in Osaka in April, the soup really hit the spot. We were also served my personal favorite tea, hōjicha (ほうじ茶) throughout our meal.
Our first dish (先) not counting the watercress soup was a bowl of mixed udo (独活/Japanese mountain asparagus), squid jelly fungus, pea and tofu paste, and opium poppy. The squid jelly fungus was very chewy kinda like the stuff you see in a Chinese cold cuts appetizer dish. This chewiness went well with the crunch of the udo. There was a creamy taste from the pea and tofu paste that was just delicious. Not sure if it was the opium poppy that made me sleepy or if I’m just a sloth hehe 😛
This next dish (楽) made me think that it was the rest of the menu on one plate. Nope, just another dish on the list. Clockwise from the top left: octopus tentacle in dill flavored jelly, Japanese tiger shrimp and Japanese pepper, baby squid with honey miso dressing, thistle in sea urchin sauce, and cherry blossom leaf sushi of white bait. I’m not exactly sure if these are what they are but this is what I could approximate from the menu including the switching of some of the ingredients due to availability. If I had to pick, either the octopus or the baby squid would’ve been my favorite out of all of these.
Next up was the special sashimi platter (割). It consisted of unagi (eel), toro (fatty tuna), bonito, hamachi (yellowtail), mackerel, and some other fish I couldn’t identify. I’m not the biggest fan of aburi (grilled topside) but this was good because it wasn’t overcooked! I liked the bonito (the one tied with watercress?) the best because it was slathered with a soy based dressing and I like my soy based things. Interesting as everything else had their own dressings without the traditional wasabi and soy sauce mix.
More soup! A light sea bream consommé (煮) was served to cut all the rich flavors that we were tasting. Included in the clear soup was a slice of sea bream, soft cod roe kuzu (クズ/葛/Japanese Arrowroot) tofu, something called butterbar (大原木蕗), and mitsuba (三叶芹/Japanese parsley). The soup itself wasn’t too fishy or heavy so it was very refreshing to have in the middle of the meal. I love soup!
For our grilled dish (燒), we had a serving of bamboo shoots steak with Japanese spring vegetables and katsuobushi (かつおぶし/bonito flakes). The cover of the bamboo shoots was used to house a mound of katsuobushi that could be eaten with the shoots themselves. This give everything a smoky and slightly fishy taste. The spring veggies weren’t green and leafy but they were delicious as well. Kinda contrasted the crunchy shoots.
Our next dish (温) was a Japanese steamed egg custard in clam and sea lettuce with sharks fin, daylily bud, and Japanese pepper oil. I clearly did not read the menu at all until after the fact. I was happy eating egg custard (which I really like btw) and until I felt something noodle-y. I kinda roll it around with my spoon and I was like “Shit. It’s shark’s fin.” Although my parents were like “No way, cannot be.” It was when I found a bigger piece of shark’s fin and grabbed the menu.
I FEEL SO DIRTY. I SHOULD HAVE SAID I WAS ALLERGIC TO SHARK’S FIN.
Anyway, Papa dJ ate the rest of it because it would’ve looked bad if we didn’t finish our food. I was quite upset but really tried not to let that ruin my meal. Reading the menu more carefully next time.
The next dish (強) Kawachi duck meat with yuzu (柚子) flower, nose shiitake mushroom, Osaka edible chrysanthemum miso sauce, yuzu kosho powder made me feel better. I really liked the tenderness and the rich flavor of the duck. I personally preferred it without the sauce but it was delicious either way. Ate the skin and fat too for the first time in a long time 😛
Next up was a bowl of whitebait and chives over rice with an egg on top (留). At this point, I was very full because we actually snacked before dinner. #matakawproblems I will say thought that it was easy for me to finish this dish because it was that delicious. The whitebait was soft and sweet and the egg was just cooked that parts of it was still runny. For someone who doesn’t like to mix her food, this was very mixed and eaten all together.
Finally, dessert (デ)! We were presented with a dish of yomogi (ヨモギ/mugwort) Bavarian cream with mandarin orange slices, and strawberry and rhubarb sherbet. The block of yomogi tasted what I imagine wheatgrass to taste like. Quite fibrous but sweet as well, it goes interestingly well with the sherbet. The mandarin orange slices were super refreshing to end it all.
But wait! We still had after dinner tea (茶)! A cup of sencha (煎茶) was given to each of us and this was accompanied by two pieces of plum jelly wrapped in some kind of dried leaf (I cannot tell what it is) and charred a little. I really like jelly/gummy things so this was a great way to finish our unforgettable meal!
In the end we asked if we could keep our placemats and they gave us new, rolled copies of the placemat which was a map of the Dotonbori area and Kigawa postcards (which shall never be sent to anyone, sorry!) So nice, these people :]
The dining experience was superb and the ambiance unmatchable. All the dishes tasted as good as they looked and the best part was that there was very quiet with only one more group of diners at the end of the table and they seemed to be enjoying their food a lot as well. Definitely a place to come back for special occasions.
Note: While you’re allowed to take photos of the food, you’re not allowed take photos of the kitchen or the chefs.
喜川 • キガワ Kigawa
1 Chome-7-7 Dotonbori
Osaka-fu, Japan 〒542-0071
+81 06 6211 3030
Tuesday to Sunday 1130H – 1430H; 1700H – 2200H