Thursday, August 08, 2019

MUROI

About half a month ago, Lucas sent me a text asking me to choose a slightly upscale restaurant in Japan, he gave me a rough gauge of 250 SGD (about 180 USD) upper limit per pax, but that he would be willing to spend, as long as we could be guaranteed a dining spot. I went through the list of Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, and decided on Muroi in Kyoto.

I don't usually do reviews like this, and I don't think this could even come close to doing justice to our experience tonight, but Lucas and I each had the best meal experience of our lives. That is a cumulative fifty-six years of life, and he's done some pretty extensive travelling, and I haven't done too shabbily myself.

When we arrived, we were asked to remove our shoes and sit in front of the bar, instantly making us feel at home and comfortable. We started out a little bashful, I'd never dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and so we felt like plebs not fitting in.

However, through the course of the night, Chef Muroi kindly took the time to explain each dish to us, and even when he wasn't sure of the name of an ingredient in English, he would translate it on Google to explain whether something was a river fish, a garden vegetable, a fruit, etc.






This was one of my favorite courses, a soup made with the spring water collected from Kiyomi Pass, and pike fish. He asked if we would be comfortable slurping it from the bowl, or if we'd like spoons, but of course we opted to do it Japanese-style, and slurped straight up. What surprised me was it was a clear soup, and yet it was extremely tasty. I usually favor heavier cuisines like Malay and Indian spiced gravies, so it blew me away that this light soup seemed to me to be so delicious.


I've always liked sushi and sashimi and these were so fresh, served with regular soy sauce, plum sauce, and a spicyish cucumber sauce (from right to left), all of which I finished up even after I was done with my sashimi.






Melt-in-our-mouths duck breast with Japanese mustard. Another one of my favorites.

Over dinner, we got more and more chatty. We asked Chef Muroi what he liked to cook, and which city was his favorite, 'cos he's lived and worked in many cities. He said he likes London and Italy, and that the people in Berlin were nice, that it seemed to him as though the people in Berlin had learnt after a great divide, to be nicer to each other.

He asked about ours, so I said I didn't have much experience, but that I liked New York City so far, because I was able to make friends more easily there, although I must acknowledge that due to the way I look and also to my very open nature, I cannot say I've ever had a problem making friends anywhere.

Chef Muroi said he thinks New York is so-so, because from his experience, only people with money would get anywhere in New York, but everyone else is sort of on the sidelines. I thought it was so refreshing that this extremely successful chef was so candid with us, that he spoke openly about the income and wealth inequality.

We told him we were moving to New York, because I'm starting school there, and he said that it made sense for me, he said the dress I was wearing made me look like Cinderella, and that I would belong in such a fashion capital. He wished me luck for life in New York, and Lucas and I felt more and more at ease.

He asked how we'd heard about Muroi (the restaurant), so I told him. Chef said summer is a very slow period because it gets so hot in Japan, and that winter, spring and fall are much busier months, with more people travelling, and generally moving around. He also very cordially invited us to come back and visit in future, and I feel like if I were monetarily capable, I would definitely want to return to taste the menus of different seasons.




The desserts were among the top three desserts I've had in life, we had a glass of watermelon juice which was unbelievably fresh and sweet, Muscat grape, fig, melon as well as Japanese peach, accompanied by white chocolate on the side, and to top off the meal, we were asked if we'd like ice-cream.

Ice-cream is my favorite thing in life so we said yes, of course. We had sugar cane ice-cream topped with blueberries, and honest to God, if it were possible to have an orgasm from food, I'm pretty sure I had it. The thing is, I was full to burst because my dress was rather tight, but every single bite I took made me feel so good, I just kept going on.

Before we left, Chef and the most adorable elderly lady who was helping him in the kitchen (whom I refered to as Obachan although I wasn't sure what their relationship was) packed some onigiri up in a plastic bag for us to have for breakfast, completely out of the blue.

We left after I'd exhausted my Japanese language I'd picked up from Terrace House (I basically repeated eh sugoi!! and oishi!!!! a dozen times) and then!!!! While we were walking, at least five minutes away and thirty meters from the restaurant, I heard "Sarah! Sarah!" and it turns out that Chef Muroi himself had run after us, because Lucas the pleb had left his tote bag under his seat at the restaurant.

And that's the story of the best meal of our lives. The food was amazing, and some of it I didn't understand because the ingredients I'd never heard of in my life. I know, though, that it was delicious, that when some of the food melted in our mouths, it was extremely pleasant and a surprise, that when it was sweet it was inherently in the ingredients themselves, that the flavors were brought out because they complemented each other.

The most important thing was it felt like a priceless experience. Read more about Chef Muroi here.