[Kyoto, Japan] Lunch at Lec Court, Hotel Okura Kyoto

120-year-old Hotel Okura Kyoto is one of those well-established hotels in Japan which seemed stuck in a time-warp circa 1950s, with its retro furnishings and graceful, if somewhat sedate, atmosphere.

Lec Court, with its wide glass walls looking out to Kawaramachi-Oike, the thoroughfare which separates the hotel from the monolithic, austere-looking Kyoto City Hall building, is a perfect place for a casual lunch. Try and snare one of the window seats - inestimably more pleasant.

Trust the Japanese to adapt foreign (especially Western) food items, but elevate it to a whole new level of finesse. Lec Court serves a good spread of “yoshoku” amidst an elegant yet casual setting, quite a contrast from its 1-Michelin-starred Awato Sanso, which serves Kyoto-style kaiseki in a hinoki ryo-tei, set amidst a beautiful Japanese garden.

Lunch started with a small garden salad, with a choice of French or Japanese dressing. Bread on the side were, interestingly, a French hard roll and a Japanese soft roll.

The pumpkin soup was buttery-smooth and simply the best rendition of it I’d ever had.

Ditto the beef Stroganoff, served with saffron-tinged Japanese short-grain rice. I’ll remember the taste of this dish for a long time to come.

Desserts were also absolutely delish: green tea mousse cake and a green tea cream puff.

Everything’s done in the typical Japanese fashion, with meticulous attention to detail. Flawless service.

Address
Hotel Okura Kyoto
Kawaramachi-Oike, Nakagyo-ku
Kyoto 604-8558
Tel: 81-75 211 5111

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Thank you for the report. Before I read what you ate, I was wondering for a second what would cause you to opt for yoshoku instead of kaiseki (other than kaiseki fatigue) under the same roof. We got the answer! Was it technique, or more Chez Panisse style superior ingredient quality, or both that gave the dishes the flavor you won’t forget?

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I think no one can compete with the Japanese when it comes to supply chain for fresh ingredients - from farm to table almost daily.
In terms of technique, the Japanese are really, really meticulous, so one can only marvel at the end-product.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold