(☞ﾟ∀ﾟ)☞ JAPAN 2013 MASTERPOST
I don't quite remember where I read a recommendation for Iyemon Salon but I'm glad I found it.
Iyemon Salon is a beautiful restaurant with a quiet, refined ambiance that embodies the minimalist, modern Japanese aesthetic. The whole space is airy and bright, with glass windows and dark wooden accents - and I believe there was an obi exhibition upstairs, along with a small book display next to the entrance and samples of their famous tea.
Entering at around 12pm without any reservations, we had to wait for maybe 10min to be seated. It is a bit of a wait, but definitely worth it and the cafe manager was so cheerfully smiley that it was hard to feel annoyed. If you can, make a reservation first.
We ordered two mains to share between the four of us - not exactly standard practice, but enough for our appetites and the waiters complied graciously, only stopping to confirm if we were okay with only two mains
The menu has an English translation, which is always much appreciated.
We ordered the autumn special - Oven baked CHAMI Pork & Eggplant
The entree had an interesting selection of dishes. My favourite was probably the grilled salmon in miso.
The pork was gorgeous - very rich in flavour and went very well with the rice. Definitely a recommended dish, if you're lucky enough to catch it in the autumn.
We also ordered a grilled salmon with salad, which doesn't appear to be on the site's menu so I can't quite tell you the exact name. It was grilled well, though the piece was fairly small, and the flavours were cut through with a refreshing tanginess in the sauce and the salad dressing (I believe some sort of yuzu sauce was used as it's a specialty of Japanese autumn flavours)
We had some hojicha tea to finish the meal, which had that lovely roasted tea flavour that I love.
Iyemon Salon had a wide selection of oyatsu dessert but, unfortunately, a lot of them could only be ordered after 3pm. We chose a matcha cream fromage, which was simply green-tea flavoured cream cheese - incredibly light with an almost whipped cream texture. The cheese flavour was not particularly strong but it was definitely an interesting dessert.
We also ordered the 'special' cake of the day, which was a simple brown-sugar flavoured sponge cake with a dollop of vanilla foam on the top. Not particularly groundbreaking but subtly sweet and a good complement to the tea.
I'd definitely pay Iyemon Salon a visit if you're in that part of Kyoto. It's classy and 'clean' in its environment and presentation without being odiously snobby; its food is a bit of a modern take on traditional Japanese cuisine and boasts some great flavours. The prices are slightly more expensive but will still be definitively wallet-friendly to most travellers and would be worth the occasional splurge, even frugal students and backpackers.