Tenryu-Ji is an UNESCO listed temple in Arashiyama founded in 1339. The temple was preceded by centuries of existence as the imperial villa of the Japanese emperor as well as an even older temple raised around the 8th century. After the Meiji restoration, parts of the temple were parceled out for sale and one of these historical annexes is now Kyo Suiran, the fine dining restaurant of Suiran Kyoto.
A meal within such a heritage building naturally features the best of Japanese cuisine. Over lunch with our lovely host Yoshiko San we sampled the Hassun, normally the second course of a Kaiseki set but here is modified into the appetizer course of the popular lunch set, which features seasonal delights like grilled Sake (salmon), Maguro (tuna) sashimi and Yuba (beancurd skin). The starter was followed by an excellent lobster and vegetable Tempura served with fabulously flavoursome Tentsuyu and bamboo charcoal salt. By the time we had the sea bream rice with white miso soup it was already quite clear Kyo Suiran is undoubtedly one of the best culinary establishments in Arashiyama.
The meal was capped with a simple serving of Goma Tofu (sesame pudding) before Yoshiko San showed me around the historic and newly raised sections of the hotel. As she rightly suggested, the best way to spend the afternoon at the enchanting Suiran after such a wonderful meal is to immerse oneself in one of its elegant private outdoor onsen.
Visitors to Tenryu-ji next door may get to contemplate nirvana but those of us seeking earthly bliss will do well to make a reservation at Kyo Suiran as an in house guest.
The Hassun Platter. Note the festive new year accents.
Tempura of lobster and Renkon (lotus root).
Goma Tofu completes the delightful meal.