Local Taste's Japanese Restaurant Journey Vol.3 -The Best Kaiseki Cuisine In Kobe.
Whenever I heard some discussion about the best restaurant in Kobe, one name that was consistently mentionedwas Kimoto.
Kimoto has been one of my most favorite modern Kaiseki restaurants in Japan.
Personally, I enjoyed my dinner at Kimoto than the other famous modern Kaiseki restaurant in Japan.
Also, Kimoto's grilled meat is one of the most memorable grilled meat dishes I have had in Japan.
During its later time in Kobe, Kimoto became an introduction only which made it difficut to any new customer.
The rumor that Kimoto would be moved to Tokyo was heard a coupe of years ago but such news wasn't confirmed.
When I learned that Kimoto would be moving to Tokyo last year, two thoughts went through my mind:
1) would itbe much harder to book Kimoto?
2) the disappointment on one less great restaurant in Kobe.
Fortunately, years ago, I was recommended by a very good sushi chef who came from Kobe to try Uemura.
Usually, I depend on people I trusted as how I shortlisted my dining destinations. Sometimes, it takes many people who echoed the same praise before I made any move.
As this sushi chef not only is trustworthy but also came from Kobe, his recommendation couldn't go wrong so I visited Uemura not long afterward.
Uemura is in a building not far from Sannomiya station and Kimoto. So usually, I visited Kobe and visited both restaurants.
When I was served the first course of my meal at Uemura, its delicious taste immediately captured my palate.
I loved the blue crab.
Chef Uemura really knows how to draw the best out of his seasonable ingredients.
Seafood at Uemura is always carefully selected.
When in season, his sous chef would present a jar of live sweet fish, ayu.
Grilled ayu is always lovely. Chef Uemurais assisted by two super friendly sous chefs.
I found the young man at the grill got good sense of humor.
He told me Chef Uemura sent him to catch ayu every morning.
Chef Uemura's clam soup with konoko, the ovary of sea cucumber, was so delicious. Using dried seafood like dried scallop to make a good soup base is not uncommon in Cantonese cooking.
The soup made of dried ovary of sea cucumber takes it to another level with its complex umami flavor.
Eating sea cucumber is common in Asia.
Besides eating its fresh, there are 2 other delicacies: Konowata which is the salted gut of sea cucumber and Konoko, the ovalries which were painstakingly put together, salted and dried in the sun.
Konoko is also called kuchiko, bachiko,or hoshiko depending on which part in Japan as they call it differently.
Konoko is very expensive as it takes so many sea cucumbers to make one triangle of this Konoko.
Sometimes, I saw it served after being grilled to be enjoyed with sake.
I still remembered the first time I had konoko which reminded me the deep taste of the sea.
I much prefer Konoko to caviar. For me, caviar is over-rated and not quite sustainable.
I don't get to have konoko too often though.
His rice dish is cooked in a very big rice pot and shown to all diners.
His rice dish changes according to season e.g. mame gohan, samma gohan, etc.
All were delicious. I always have more than one serving of his rice dish.
Chef Uemura's cooking got a modern touch to his art.
His udon with truffle is very aromatic.
By the end of the meal, he always serve delicious wagashi or Japanese dessert like house made mochi as a perfect ending to the wonderful meal.
Staff is very friendly. The young sous chef at the grill got a good sense of humur once he gets to know you better.
I felt he was at ease after my subsequent visits. All guests are Japanese.
English is limited although they made an effort to print out the menu in English.
Meal starts exactly on time so all guests were expected to arrive 10 mins before the starting time.
Uemura got one of the most beautiful ceramic sink and door knob.
I made a point to use his wash room every time just to take a look.
Booking a good restaurant in Kobe is much easier than in Osaka, Kyoto, or Tokyo.
Booking Uemura was not difficult.
At one point, they even accepted online booking via table check website.
But now, they stop accepting online booking.
I can only hope things aren't changing after the recent upgrade to Tabelog silver.
I have always felt perplex as I thought Uemura had not been under the radar.
I couldn't help wishing booking Uemura remain accessible.
I would recommend Uemura to anyone who visits Kobe with 3 hours to spare and look for a very nice Kaiseki meal with modern take.
A typical meal at Uemura would last about 3 hours.
Ryoriya Uemura（料理屋 植むら）
Address: 1-24-14 Nakayamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo-prefecture
Budget: 20,000-29,999 yen
Credit cards accepted（VISA、MASTER、JCB、AMEX、Diners）
Local taste had taken a long journey searching for delicious meals long before the dawn of social media, roaming from one city to another from the Far East to the west, over 160 cities in four continents and more than 400,000 miles during the last 37 years.
His dining spots over thousands of restaurants range from eating in a hole in the wall in Asia to all ten Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris. More than decades was spent on chasing for perfect xiao long bao.
Because he is not in food business nor food writer, his article won’t be found elsewhere but exclusively on tokyotabletrip.com as a tribute to Leo Saito’s altruistic deed to help international visitors discover the beauty of Japanese cuisine.