Sunday, March 12, 2017

Feb-ulous Kyoto: Shokudo in a Temple

We dropped by D&Department Kyoto on Saturday afternoon to do some shopping and have lunch there. D&Department Project is an fascinating concept being a social advocate for re-cycling, preserving traditional industries and designs and promoting local culture and food through shops, publications and exhibitions under the theme of “Long Life Design”… think of it as a combination of Monocle and Slow Food and pretty much resonate everything I have a fond interest in. So to me visiting their shops around the country is like a pilgrimage of sorts.


D&Department Kyoto, one of their 12 shops around Japan (plus another one in Seoul), is located on the ground of Bukkoji-temple, just a few blocks away from the central area of the city. Within the complex was the shop and exhibition gallery under one roof, plus a small restaurant in a separate building next door. It’s almost 1pm when we walked over from our house, so we went straight into their restaurant, called dd shokudo, first and waited for our table for lunch.



dd Shokudo was housed in an old building on the temple ground, with a small kitchen near the entrance and a dining area with 10 or so tables on tatami floor. (shokudo roughly translated to a traditional diner) There’s also an area outside with a long bench where visitors can order takeaway food and drink and sit there to eat and drink. I am usually not a fan of sitting on tatami floor but their well-designed low chair makes it extremely comfortable.

The restaurant only opens during the day and ran a simple menu of light lunch sets, snacks and desserts. Shokudo, which literally means "food hall", usually refers to neighborhood diner serving home-style dishes. Local and seasonal were the main theme of the menu, with detailed description of every food ingredients used, most of them coming from Kyoto prefecture or nearby Kansai region. Any seasonal special item was hand-written in the menu as well.


I went for the Kyoto Set, which came with one soup and three dishes (plus a bowl of rice and pickles), which was available during the lunch hour. The concept of "one soup, three dishes" (or 一汁三菜 in Japanese) essentially formed the basis of Japanese cuisine, from the humble family dinner to the most elaborate kaiseki meal.

Our food arrived shortly served in nice ceramics serveware on a hinoki platter (well, all of which conveniently available for sale in the shop next door) The dishes were simple but well-prepared, using local and seasonal produce. The bowl of white miso soup with gluten balls, green onions and yuzu zest was fragrant and comforting, loaded with umami and sweetness. The main course of Hiryozu (飛竜頭) is a tofu fritter served with seasonal vegetables in a dashi broth. On the side was another soy-based course, which looked like a meatloaf and served cold, with spongy texture and a piece of gingko inside. They were all delicious – even including the bowl of rice served with seasonal pickles. The set even came with a small bowl of icecream plus tea or coffee, and I think represented tremendous value and a great place for home-style meals with true Kyoto taste.


After lunch we hopped to the building next door to check out their shop. At the time of our visit in a small gallery next door was a temporary exhibition of the works by Masahiro Mori (森正洋). Well I am a big fan of his work, and I never got bored seeing the many bowls he designed for Hakusan Porcelain among other products, no matter how many times I have seen them all already (and actually got some of his designs at home). Just like every time I am at their shops, I ended up buying a few items – this time mainly food and condiments, items that are hard to get at home, like a good quality dried see weed for making dashi. And I loved the idea of them collecting used shopping bag from customers and re-used for packaging – with the taped over logo on the original bag, it’s almost like a new design. Such a clever move!



D&Department Kyoto
397 Shinkaicho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
京都府京都市下京区高倉通仏光寺下ル新開町397本山佛光寺内
Web: http://www.d-department.com/jp/shop/kyoto

(Feb-ulous Kyoto Part 5 - check out the whole series here!)


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