[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
初次听闻日籍友人说起这家极少在媒体平台上曝光的传统日本高级料理餐馆，而且还是不接受生客，只限熟客引荐，每日仅限四组人客并需透过预约与说明预算 (需一日前预约，最低消费为每人RM120) 才能入内的「料亭」，大人脑海中浮现的画面即是和式包间桌上的食器与食材必定相当讲究。
The name may not ring bells in your head, but Kisho certainly spells good fortune for those who have been craving for Kaiseki meal without heading to Kyoto!
Anyone familiar with high end traditional Japanese ryotei would not be surprised by the long-established practice of only accepting reservations from known customers or referrals from established clientele.
Of course, one cannot experience a meal like this in just any setting. With the Japanese being so adept at harmony, they would never allow such gourmet food to be served in an inappropriate environment. Hence, Kaiseki ryori is usually served in private rooms, allowing us to enjoy our refined meal in the most Japanese of atmospheres. We might even say that a meal can’t be considered Kaiseki without this added element of tranquillity. Hidden amongst the old shophouses along Jalan Perang, without any visible signage in front is Kisho – a restaurant known only to gourmands for all of its merits, with up to 14 privileged few able to savour the Japanese version of haute cuisine, the ultimate in Japanese fine dining. Here, we can enjoy dining in a seat that suits our preference, with hall seats, tatami room seats, sushi counter seats and tearoom-style private rooms all available.
Considered the pinnacle of Japanese gastronomy and sophistication, Kaiseki ryori is not only an extraordinarily refined and varied menu in terms of taste but also an exact composition of different shapes, textures and colours. Traditionally, a Kaiseki meal is composed of a succession of small dishes, all different in terms of ingredients, cooking and presentation.
Despite only been opened since February this year, Kisho‘s unique blend of cuisine quickly garnered a strong following. While there is no set menu in a Kaiseki meal, there are all the same rules to respect. First, the ingredients used must be seasonal and of the utmost freshness, according to the basic rules of traditional Japanese cuisine. To achieve this, Kisho flies in seasonal produce from Tsukiji market three times a week, with no intermediaries to keep their ingredients ocean fresh, and priced competitively! Other feature of Kaiseki ryori also stipulates no duplication of ingredients (fish being an exception) and cooking styles across all the courses so that we can experience new tastes and textures throughout our meal!
早前，大人曾提及这儿的无菜单料理 (Omakase) 每人最低消费为RM120，而以下大人所尝的无菜单怀石料理为三人份，每人预算约RM200，平心而论相当合理，「平均每人消费RM500以上的饕客也不在少数。」
Of course, such refinement has a price. The degustation experience typically lasts beyond two hours and can easily reach three-digit figures, much of it due to the use of fresh ingredients flown in directly from Japan. Truly authentic kaiseki meals can easily reach three-digit figures, with some regulars even going as high as RM500 on average per pax. There’s no menu per se, but there are some pretty bespoke signature dishes we can request for. So, what’s for dinner based on a modest budget of RM200 per pax for a party of 3?
The art of Zen & culinary composition
率先上桌的章鱼刺身、马肉刺身与冲绳海藻 (もずく, Mozuku, 上图) 就让人见识到了和风美学，「首次鲜尝马肉刺身的大人我其实内心还蛮忐忑的，据说马肉属于极为健康的红肉，富含胶原蛋白，而且肉质精瘦不肥腻，咀嚼后无甚膻腥，口感极似牛肉，滋味竟些许类似火腿香。」稍微对马肉刺身多着了墨，大人面对薄若蝉翼的章鱼刺身与冲绳海藻就显得坦然许多，无需赘言亦知其美味，第一道料理就惊艳了舌尖，想来这一回实在该好好宠宠自己。
Our first-ever Kaiseki ryori at home is off to a great start, with a unique combination of Tako (octopus), Basashi (horse) sashimi and Mozuku (brown seaweed) served on a black stone plate. We were pretty impressed with the tender, and clean tasting octopus, which we understand can be quite hard to achieve due to its rubbery texture. The Mozuku seaweed, the pride of Okinawa, is served as a palate refresher and has a smooth and chewy texture compared to other species of seaweed. As for the basashi, if you can get over the mental hurdle of chowing down on a little pony, then you will probably enjoy it as much as we love the strong, sharp and salty meatiness of the salami.
滋味让人销魂的海胆 (うに, Uni, 上图) 与鲑鱼籽 (いくら, Ikura, 上图) 及鱼子酱、毛蟹 (ケガニ，Kegani, 上图) 与蟹味噌（かにみそ，Kanimiso, 上图）搭着来自京都的白萝卜片、烤蚕豆 (そらまめ, Soramame, 上图) 与酸浆 (ホウズキ, Hozuki, 上图)，皆是来自日本的时令食材，「这才是大人梦寐以求的海胆滋味！新鲜的海胆搭着鲑鱼籽与鱼子酱，这组合一尝就让人无法自拔。」
Our third course saw an exciting pairing of Uni (sea urchin) with Ikura, topped with Caviar, Kegani (horsehair crab) and Kanimiso (crab tomalley) that’s packed full of umami goodness that we can still find chunks of crab meat in each bite. Possessing more adventurous palates, we go directly for the uni sashimi with a briny taste and creamy texture. The sea urchin with salmon roe was a surprising combination but what really made this union utterly divine was the presence of both the red and black caviar which contributed to its unmistakeable saltiness and slippery texture. Course number four was presented in the form of grilled Soramame from Kyoto served with sea salt and the extremely seasonal and the rare Hozuki (Chinese-lantern plant), whom many believed can bring health benefits.
拥有靓丽内壳、比手掌稍小的平贝 (タイラギ, Tairagai, 上图) 与再次出场的海胆 (うに, Uni, 上图)、来自北海道的鲔鱼 (まぐろ, Maguro, 上图)、红鰤刺身间八 (カンパチ, Kanpachi, 上图)、赤贝 (あかがい, Akagai, 下图)、竹麦鱼 (ホウボウ, Hobo, 下图)与鰤 (ぶり, Buri, 下图)，「视觉与味觉的飨宴啊！」红白交映的刺身们仅需轻蘸山葵与酱油尽显肥润鲜甜，此刻大人的舌尖皆被日本极具代表性的海产们宠爱着，夫复何求。
Our fifth-course brings about more sweet and creamy Uni and Tairagai (Japanese pen shell clam) which is comparable in texture and taste to hotate (scallop), but the flesh is firmer, less sweet and has more concentrated umami. But wait, there’s more. With a selection of premium, fresh cuts of Maguro (tuna) from Hokkaido, along with Kanpachi, Buri (both yellowtail), Akagai (red clam) and Hobo (red gurnard), Kisho is not one to skimp on the thickness of the cut. Each slice of sashimi is of sufficient thickness, and we could tell that it was really fresh.
一波波的刺身浪潮正向大人袭来，今夜大人化身掠食者，这鲔鱼最肥美的鱼腩部位大トロ(大とろ, Otoro, 下图) 脂香滑润浓郁，「在口中化开的那一刻，魂魄再被勾走了一回。」再度登场的海胆 (うに, Uni, 下图)与鱼子酱、章鱼刺身、超微型番茄，让大人又享了一次幸福的滋味！舌尖被宠成这般模样，明日的餐点该如何是好？
Our next course is a sinful platter of oily, delicious Otoro (the fattiest part of the tuna) and yet more Uni with Caviar and Tako sashimi. At this price point, the quality of the creamy tuna, alongside no-frills and fresh cuts topped with juicy micro tomatoes is unbeatable and certainly blew us away.
冷食的最末一波飘送至大人桌上，鲍鱼、凉拌章鱼、鳄梨里藏匿着诱人的刺身 (下图) … 新鲜的食材总是让人瞬间就能吃出了泪滴，大人只觉再回首描写极其鲜美的滋味这回事实在太虐我心了！刺身的筵席怎么那么快与我话别，「眼下只能盘算下回该再加码预订，为的只是让食光能稍候片刻，让我再好好回味这稍纵即逝的幸福啊！」
As a fitting finale, we were treated to a sizeable Abalone and Tako salad, as well as more raw fish encased within a smooth, silky Avocado. Honestly, how many slices of sashimi do you think one can eat? By now, we’ve seriously lost count as the sashimi were really fresh and generous with thick soft and almost melt-in-the-mouth kinda texture. In the end, we just went with the flow and look forward to being surprised at the hot dishes that would be coming up shortly.
上乘的怀石料理极注重新鲜与季节感，不时不食，而食材旁也总能瞧见代表四季的花草植物辅佐。传统怀石谨守先上冷食再上热食，一般先以餐前酒 (Aperitif) 开启飨宴，接着为先付 (前菜，Sakizuke)、椀物 (汤汁料理，Wanmono)、向付 (刺身，Mukouzuke)、鉢肴 (烧烤或炸物，Hachizakana)、強肴 (焖菜或蒸鱼，Shiizakana)、止め肴 (醋腌菜，Tomezakana)、食事 (米饭、味噌汤、季节性腌菜，Shokuji) 与水菓子 (季节性水果或甜点，Mizugashi) 。时过境迁，今日的怀石料理有者仅遵循冷热食的顺序，上菜先后次序则依各家形式而有所异同。
Although the preparation and the order in which our food is served vary from one restaurant to another, certain dishes are regularly found in the menus of the kaiseki ryori. Starting with Aperitif and Sakizuke (appetizer), followed by the Wanmono, a course served in a small bowl with a lid, typically a soup. Then comes the Mukosuke (sashimi course), where each premium piece of raw fish is meticulously presented and varies by season and location. The Hachizakana (typically grilled dish) and Shiizakana, the more substantial dish will feature cooked vegetables, mushrooms or meat according to the choice of the chef. As the first character in the name of Tomezakana means “to stop”, indicating that our meal will be coming to a close soon, this course will typically be vinegared vegetables. The Shokuji course is typically served simultaneously with rice, a bowl of miso soup and another pickled vegetable dish, before concluding with the Mizugashi, a small dessert usually a seasonal fruit or a small serving of ice cream or sherbet. Our table ends up being completely covered with small dishes, so it feels like a real banquet!
静置在精致瓷器伊万里烧 (いまりやき, Imari-yaki) 里的和风家常料理，焖鰤 (ぶり, Buri, 左上) 与焖白萝卜 (だいこん, 大根, Daikon, 左上)，「这汁都被紧锁在食材里了，简单却美味异常。家常料理之所以能不朽，自有其道理。」
而另一道烤鰤 (ぶり, Buri, 右上) 以筷子轻剥送入口中后，外微脆内里却出乎意料地软嫩，好惊艳！
Kaseiki dining is characterized by its gorgeous appearance, hence the chefs plate our food using Imari-yaki (Japanese porcelain) bowls and dishes with bright designs so that we can enjoy the beautiful china after we are done eating Our next course of hot dishes come in the form of seasonal Buri (yellowtail) done in two ways. The stewed version married surprisingly well with the crunchy Daikon (big root, radish), while the other Buri was evenly grilled and absorb all the marinade with a nice bite to it, making it flavourful with no fishiness.
来自岩手县 (いわてけん, Iwate-ken) 的和牛里脊 (上图)，脂肪较少、红肉特质极明显，五分熟的姿态既保留了嚼劲也让人品出了富有层次的原汁原味；搭着味噌麹酵素而烹的羊扒 (上图左下)，无膻腥一入口即啪啪爆浆，脂肪在嘴里化成一滩罪恶却又幸福的矛盾滋味，既来之则食之；来自爱知县 (あいちけん, Aichi-ken) 的熏鸭片 (上图右下)，伴随着脂肪而来的紧致滑嫩，大人的口舌心腹在今夜被成全了。
For those of us who appreciate lovely fatty juices and a richer beef taste, you would be pleased with the Wagyu Tenderloin from Iwate-ken. At medium doneness, the steak is well cooked, browned and charred outside, pink on the inside. We can also tell the steak is good when it doesn’t need the sauce that it comes for any added flavours. The Lamb Rack was also another fulfilment of our gustatory dreams, with a special marinade that worked wonders in diminishing its otherwise unmistakeable strong gamey odour, and we found ourselves quickly devouring this lamb dish. AND using premium birds imported from Aichi-ken, coupled with the skill of the chef, we’re not surprised that the Duck was smoked really well and was surprisingly tender.
以满满章鱼肉手捏而成的烤章鱼丸子 (上图左上)，弹嫩入味，绝不欺场，「观其外表差点就要忽视它了，尝了第一口乖乖就范，好吃。」；烤栄螺 (さざえ, Sazae，上图右上) 搭着鸿喜菇与绿蔬，口感鲜爽；将多种时令食材与日式高汤置入陶壶里锁蒸，从土瓶蒸し (どびんむし, Dobin-mushi，上图左下) 倒出汤汁后，「先闻其香再尝其味。」微咸酸又鲜甜，看似素雅沉静的高汤原来层次多元；而以日本鸡蛋入味的茶碗蒸し (ちゃわんむし, Chawanmushi) 幼滑地犹如在尝豆腐脑儿，一咕噜就滑进了咽喉，这蒸制时间是以毫秒来掌控的吧？
「吉祥」的重头戏出场了！鳗鱼烧咱们尝多了，想必滋味不必赘言。在日本，仅有高级料理才供应活鳗 (LIVE Unagi，上图中)，活鳗料理近年来在东亚刮起一阵尝鲜风潮，无法亲赴日本而饕客若想一尝蒲烧活鳗，全新山也唯有在「吉祥」才能达成夙愿啊！可别小觑这一份朴实无华的料理，负责人提及近年来日本鳗鱼的价格日趋昂贵，而且上桌前的准备功夫相当繁琐费时，热食不等人，眼前这半条蒲烧活鳗在呼唤我了！いただきます，大人开动了！「皮脆肉软嫩，酱香汁微甜，必尝！」
The chewy pieces of grilled octopus gave texture to our fragrant Tako balls, while the much-prized Sazae (sea snail) which was cooked in the shell and served hot, tasted surprisingly smooth and refreshing with the accompanying shimeiji mushroom and greens – not what we would expect from this peculiar mollusc. We also had the Dobin mushi, which was seafood consomme served in a teapot. The clear soup was very light, and a good palate cleanser and every bite of the Chawanmushi released spurts of salty premium Salmon Roe goodness into our mouth.
Like all in-trend food, Kisho also imports Fresh Unagi LIVE from Japan every week, and the eels are grilled-to-order. We loved that the unagi here felt fatter and plumper, and there were hardly any soft bones to be felt with the sweet basting sauce coming through more than its smokiness. We guess it’s probably due to its particular dashi stock which gave it a more umami complex, making the charred taste more pronounced than when consumed on its own. Overall, It was extremely flavourful and satisfying!
The significance of rice in Japanese culture cannot be overstated. It is the daily staple, a source of cultural identity and a fundamental element of Japanese cuisine. At Kisho, the chef uses locally grown short grain cultivars of Fusakogane rice that’s so good that it’s even fit for the royalty!
It’s also not unusual for Japanese restaurants to offer teishoku set options on their menu or some kind of daily special. Just as in Western culture, there is an etiquette for where each item in the set meal is placed. Generally, the more important item is placed on the left in Japan, which is where the rice is positioned, soup on our right side, and the main dish positioned to the back.
想要尝鲜的看官们，其实「吉祥」的每日午餐时段 (12pm-2.30pm) 亦开放予饕客随餐谱点选，价格较怀石料理亲民许多；唯晚餐时段 (6pm-10.30pm) 仅限熟客引荐，每日仅限四组人客并需透过预约与说明预算 (需一日前预约，最低消费为每人RM120) 才能入内享用。
At Kisho, we love the fact that we get to enjoy dining at a leisurely pace because here, only four groups each are accommodated for dinner (6pm to 1.30pm) and requires reservations at least a day in advance with minimum spending of RM120 per person. However, Kisho also offers set menus for lunch, giving us the chance to try some of the kaiseki dishes at a more affordable price between 12 noon to 2.30pm daily.
在预订时，建议看官们先说明钟意何种食材或有何过敏食材 (料理可选以刺身、烤炙或蒸煮方式烹调)，让料理师可透过预算精心准备这一场就坐后就在等待惊喜上桌的无菜单料理 (Omakase)。由于「吉祥」平日并无猪肉料理，若想一尝可向负责人预订，老马识途的饕客们最爱的特色食材 － 河豚，也可在此寻获，来自日本山口县河豚之乡、拥有处理河豚执照的负责人绝对能满足各位的口腹之欲，「在家乡，几乎人人都有处理河豚的能力呢！」
As there is often no menu to choose from when it comes to omakase, be sure to notify Kisho at the time of reservation of any allergies or dietary needs we might have before arriving. Kaiseki usually doesn’t have pork, but it’s available upon request. Thrill-seekers and foodies who crave for the distinctive, subtle flavour and unique chewy texture of Fugu can also ask for the luxurious Japanese pufferfish all the way from Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture, the largest fugu handling area in Japan.
Kisho is one of those places people call a “hidden gem”. This gem is hidden in Taman Pelangi. Priced reasonably, the service at Kisho is efficient and the place to go if we are looking to unwind and have an unhurried meal in town, with a revamped menu starting from July!
Gochisousama deshita! Thank you for the delicious meal, and an unforgettable evening of traditional Kaiseki Kyoto dining in Johor Bahru!
Kisho Japanese Restaurant 料亭吉祥