Kozue’s summer kaiseki menu includes old Kyoto vegetables and pike conger eel

Seasonality plays an important role in Japanese cuisine. It dictates what we eat at different times of the year, and that’s precisely what makes Japanese cuisine so interesting.

Summer in Japan is eel season, be it unagi (freshwater eel), anago (sea eel), or in Kyoto especially, hamo (pike conger eel). This delicacy features on the summer kaiseki menu at Kozue, the Japanese restaurant with stunning views of Shinjuku on the 40th floor of Park Hyatt Tokyo. To accompany this seasonal specialty, chef Nobuhiro Yoshida chose to highlight ancient Kyoto vegetables, also known as Kyo-yasai, which are prized for their unique shapes, vibrant colors and high nutritional value.

For dinner, the kaiseki course comes in two options: eight-course Shino (¥16,500, excluding service charge) and nine-course Takumi (¥22,000, excluding service charge). The differences are not only in the number of dishes, but also in the ingredients. For example, in the clear soup course, which we love for its clarity of flavor that emphasizes fish, Shino serves barracuda while Takumi has the more premium redfish.

Photo: Park Hyatt Tokyo

Takumi’s sumptuous course begins light and fresh with the hairy crab and vegetable dumpling, which is beautifully presented on a piece of lotus leaf, another symbol of Japanese summer. Next is Aomori’s wild pike conger eel with firm, juicy eggplant in a broth of dried scallops, the aforementioned clear but complex soup with smoky notes of aged bonito and yuzu, and Kozue’s signature sashimi which is served in a giant bowl of ice cream together. with nori (seaweed) ‘tower’. The premium tuna sashimi is a dream, with well-balanced fat that makes the meat juicy akin to eating a piece of ripe peach.

Next is a type of Japanese platter known as hassun, which offers 10 small dishes with classic Kyoto and summer flavors such as yuba (skin of tofu), chili stuffed with shrimp paste, and a variety of Kyo-yasai. There’s also a lovely grilled unagi accented with sansho pepper sauce and wagyu hot pot in Kyoto’s famous white miso soup, before finishing with a steamed rice dish with summer shellfish.

For dessert, the tomato might seem like an odd flavor for an ice cream, but here it functions as the perfect ending to a perfectly balanced and refined meal that respects the subtle flavors of its star ingredients – eels and heirloom vegetables. Kyoto.

Kozue Japanese Restaurant
Photo: Park Hyatt Tokyo

The Taste of Summer – Roots of Kyoto kaiseki menu is available in Kozue until August 4.

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