Friday, February 21, 2014

Kamakura Kondo 創作和料理 近藤

Kamakura is an old historic town with lots of shrines, temples and beautiful beach scenery. On the way to the popular shrine, there is a Kaiseki restaurant opened by Chef-owner Kondo, a Kyoto native who is trained in Kyoto cuisine.

He won the title of TV Champion for the Nabe cuisine in 2005 and is a respectable figure in many Japanese cuisine association. His restaurant is actually divided into two concepts- one is a casual restaurant selling set meals and bentos at no more than 2000 yen while the higher end restaurant located just behind the casual deli restaurant, offers kaiseki course from 3500 yen during lunch. 
Depending in your appetite, the most affordable kaiseki course offers a substantial amount of 7 courses. We had the 3500-yen, 4800-yen and 5800-yen kaiseki course and each one started with the same appetizer of tofu with crab meat in a thick brown sauce. 
The second plate that is also similar across all three courses, is a platter of several cold dishes. In the dish is raw vinegared celery topped with shredded crab. 
Taking the centre stage is inari sushi, sweet pickled root vegetables and beans that symbolizes the change of season, two cubes of eggs and a mesmerizing ball of deep-fried plum.  The 3500-yen course is the only course without the sashimi. Each type of sashimi is to be dipped with a different sauce; the usual tai fish goes with the shoyu, the white Hirame fish into the sour transparent white sauce with wasabi, the richest cut-meguro is to be dipped into Kimi-shoyu (the basic shoyu thickened with egg yolk)
The fourth dish is a steamed manju made with minced chicken, plum gluten, gin-an and broccoli
But it is a different dish for the 5800-yen course; soup with a steamed ball of crab roe and mushrooms, yuzu and some very sweet Kyoto carrots. 
Next, the fish dish is a teriyaki buri, steamed daikon with yuzu miso and fried onions for the first two types of course. The 5800-yen course consists of a lightly grilled sweet tai fish, vinegared pink ginger.  
For the main course (yes, it's finally the main course), diners are allowed to pick one out of the three choices available. To maximize variety, we had a different one for each course. The roast beef with miso is the signature dish of Kondo. The flavors of the beef was indeed masterfully handled without being overcooked.  
The yuba hot pot is an extremely light and healthy dish that is enhanced with some ponzu shoyu. The scallop tempura turned out to be quite colorful with the red and white "spikes". They taste like fish balls and are meant to be dipped on the wasabi salt.  
The rice with pickles, chirimen, miso soup.
The chef's creativity continue to shine through the desserts-- a haphazard mix of Japanese and Western dishes. Though there were strange creations such as Broccoli Tiramisu, they blended well with the earlier dishes and were well-controlled in sweetness. 

It comes with an old-fashioned dried fruit pound cake for the 3500-yen course while it comes with matcha warabimochi and custard bavaroise for the 4800-yen course below

And the most diverse dessert platter is reserved for the 5800-yen course. Besides the broccoli tiramisu and the pound cakes, there is the blueberry tiramisu, mikan jelly filled with real mandarin orange, lemon cheesecake. 

Last but not least, Chef Kondo was very generous to allow us to have the Shirasu don meal 1000-yen from his casual style restaurant located nearer to the main walking street even though food outside the premise (even affiliated places) is strictly barred. 
We made the request because shirasu don is a representative local Kamakura cuisine. Surprisingly, the shirasu were much less salty than our usual ikan bilis. A nice treat with the nori and sesame flavoured rice at the base of the shirasu. 
While most Japanese meals end with ocha, Kondo serves some special Chinese tea that helps to aid digestion after a extremely full 9-course.
Given such dedicated customer service and excellent cuisine, it looks like Chef Kondo has secured a solid spot under the blessings of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine which is just a minute walk ahead of the restaurant.
創作和料理 近藤 Kondo
〒248-0005 Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura, Yukinoshita, 1 Chome 8−36
Daily Lunch 11.30am-3pm Dinner 5.30pm-9pm
Closed Weds and Every 2nd Thurs
Tel. 0467-25-0301
Click here for official website and menu. 
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