Hyotei is located in a quiet area of Kyoto near Nanzenji Temple. Its history began approximately 400 years ago as a tea house that catered to travelers making pilgrimages to the temple. Now, it's a well-known, premier dining establishment that received three stars in the Michelin Guide for the Kanasi area for four consecutive years. In fact, the Kyoto-style cuisine prepared by the restaurant’s head chef, Eiichi Takahashi, was designated as an Intangible Cultural Property (mukei bunkazai) by the prefecture of Kyoto in 2013.
Now onto breakfast! Our course started off with a refreshing drink of hot plum and seaweed tea (ume-konbu cha).
This was followed by carefully arranged appetizers on both a tray and in a very unique, three-layered ceramic container. On the tray there were sweet potatoes flavored with a sweet syrupy sauce, small pieces of sushi with a snapper-like fish, some small fish cooked in a sweet soy-sauce based sauce and the famous Hyotei boiled eggs. The Hyotei eggs are a house specialty that have been served at the restaurant for over a century. They're prepared so that the egg white is fully cooked while the yolk is kept at just the right softness.
Let's move onto the three-layered container. One of the bowls contained a cooked sweet plum, another contained pieces of grilled salmon with grated Japanese radish and mozuku seaweed seeped in a tasty soy-sauce based sauce. The third bowl contained octopus, pumpkin, green beans and fried tofu simmered in a slightly sweet traditional Japanese-style sauce. This was all quite tasty, but it could make you a bit full even before the rice porridge.
They also served a light, clear soup with tofu and nori seaweed that was refreshing and helped cleanse the palate before moving on to the actual rice porridge.
The Hyotei porridge arrived on a simple-looking tray along with a bowl to eat the porridge from, and also a container of a special sauce that we poured on the porridge as flavoring. The sauce apparently is created with stock made from konbu seaweed and dried bonito flakes, which is then combined with soy sauce and thickened with starch. There are also pickled cucumbers, radish and whitebait fish to add flavor to the porridge.
After such a hearty meal, you'll definitely leave the restaurant on a full stomach!