So, why Japan? So many reasons… I visited when I was in high school and have always wanted to return and take Sime there. After working in a Japanese restaurant for a while years ago we both developed an appreciation for Japanese and Korean foods (like sushi and sashimi – the real stuff, not the chicken or beef with mayo sushi you get a lot here in Oz). Also I think Japan is intriguing – it’s precise, cool, traditional, kitsch and crazy! Finally, Jetstar had amazingly cheap fares on sale flying out of the Gold Coast, and I can speak basic Japanese…. so why not?
After flying in to Osaka, we decided to head straight to Kyoto in the evening by train. Weary from a long flight, we checked in at Super Hotel Shijo-Kawaramachi, a hotel catering to Japanese business travellers right in the centre of town. The hotel is in laneways behind two of Kyoto’s main streets – Shijo and Kawaramachi.
We wandered out of our hotel and down a laneway, only to find ourselves at a Ninja themed restaurant – the Ninja Kyoto Restaurant and Labyrinth. What a fabulously kitschy way to start our holiday! We were treated to a walk through an underground “labyrinth” by our ninja guide, seated in a small dark private room, then served by a ninja waiter.
We ordered the Hanzo Course (¥2,800 each, or about $35AUD), an 8 course set meal which started with ninja-star crackers served with foie gras. I’ve always wanted to try foie gras, and it was delicious (who would’ve thought… foie gras at a crazy ninja themed restaurant…?). Each item in the set course was beautifully presented and tasty (excuse the restaurant pic, it was so dark and mysterious in our ninja hut the quality of my photos isn’t very good).
For main course, Sime had the Pork hiding in the leaves, and I had the Grilled Chicken. My main was served with a flourish when a ninja magician set an egg on fire then turned it into my chicken dinner. To top it all off we had desserts that resembled a bonsai (ice cream topped with chocolate soil and a bonsai cracker) and a frog (chocolate and marshmallow).
During the meal we were also treated to a private magic show by a ninja magician (the lesser known of the ninjas). We would highly recommend a visit to this restaurant for a fun kitschy experience, plus the food is quite good (and reasonably priced!).
We’d like to know if we missed the labyrinth, as something we read later about the restaurant said you could wander through it after dinner… If someone could solve that mystery and let us know it would be great (although you know what they say… enter the labyrinth at your peril… ha ha!).