Of the dozens of ryokan inns where I have stayed in Japan, a few are truly superb. One such legendary inn is Gora Kadan in Hakone, where I stayed this past weekend. It was my first visit there and it was a perfect experience. After we enjoyed a long soak in an outdoor hot spring bath landscaped with large stones and plants, dinner was served in the suite of one of my traveling companions. The three-room suite had its own garden, as shown below.
The hors d'oeuvres course consisted of mixed vegetable sushi wrapped with a paper thin fried egg, round shaped sushi with sea bream, junsai in vinegar sauce (my friend, Japanese food authority Elizabeth Andoh explains junsai well), tiny broiled calamari with mustard and vinegar sauce, prawn, deep fried lily bulb, fu (gluten) shaped like a cherry blossom, burdock root wrapped in unagi, beans and cubes of Japanese omelet.
The soup was a puree of fiddle head fern, with tofu and lily bulbs.
The sashimi course included sole, ise lobster and otoro fatty tuna.
Fresh grilled ayu, a seasonal river fish, was served with bamboo shoots, pickled ginger and sudachi citrus.
Next came a light dish of fresh seaweed and mitsuba leaves.
The stewed dish included a very tender Wagyu beef, potatoes and canola flowers.
Rice was served with assorted Japanese tsukemono pickles.
The miso soup was made with a dark, red miso.
The dessert course contained assorted fresh spring fruit set in a light gelatin.
Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than four decades. A graduate of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo).
Andoh is the author of six books on Japanese cooking, including two IACP award-winners, An Ocean of Flavor (Morrow, 1988) and Washoku (Ten Speed, 2005). She was Gourmet's Japan correspondent for more than three decades and was a regular contributor to the New York Times travel section for many years. Andoh lectures internationally on Japanese food and culture and directs A Taste of Culture, a culinary program based in Tokyo, Japan.
Elizabeth Andoh’s website, http://www.tasteofculture.com/
- Noguchi and Izumi-Stone House in Shikoku
- Gora Kadan: The Architecture