Friday, August 8, 2008

Tim and Karen's report Garden Basara -Kaiseki@Nagaizumi-

I am an Australian who has been lucky enough to live in Mishima and Numazu for nearly 4 years.
I was given the chance to sample some of the areas first restaurants and would like to share my experiences with you. I went to only Japanese style restaurants in the hope to introduce this unique, traditional and delicious style of restaurant to people from all over the world.
It is often said that a great restaurant takes you to another place and during your visit there makes you feel truly special. Garden Basara is a restaurant that achieves this and more. From the walk up to the restaurant through lovely green gardens to the calm, sophisticated interior with its clean lines, mood lighting and spacious area, we found ourselves relaxing and forgetting about the outside world.

The restaurant was quiet on a Sunday evening, so we felt especially pampered by the attentive staff. We had the 7,000 yen set menu, which turned out to be a delightful surprise after surprise.
First, we were each served a rectangular platter with an assortment of delicacies. There was a mini peeled tomato in a lemony soup, Japanese marinated vegetable, white fish on succulent wakame, an extremely tender slice of duck with a touch of mustard, a creamy ‘tamago-yaki’, a slightly chewy shellfish and crispy fried iwashi (sardines) which had a lovely fishy flavour and was not oily. The presentation was awesome, right down to the turban shell and hydrangea flowers. This was only the beginning, however, and the waiter’s friendly explanation of each dish in English was much appreciated.

Next a soup with a ball of shrimp and mushroom was served. The thin broth was rich in flavour and very smoky. The shrimp ball had an egg-like consistency, and was extremely flavoursome. The garnish of shallots was crunchy and matched it perfectly.

After the soup we had a dish of sashimi consisting of tuna, squid and flatfish. Again, the presentation was exquisite, and the freshly grated wasabi was totally different to the instant paste found in other restaurants. The squid was surprisingly creamy, and the tuna was presented in generous slabs. The flatfish was a little chewy, but nice.

Following this we were served a teriyaki-style chicken dish with a beautiful salad presented within a slender glass. The teriyaki chicken took the idea of ‘teriyaki’ to new heights with its subtle taste that was not too sweet, tender pieces of meat and the delicious crispy skin. The salad was also delicious and the dressing had a bit of a bite to it! It is worth mentioning that dishes were brought and taken away at very comfortable intervals. We never waited too long before courses, and once finished with a plate they were immediately cleared away. The table always looked beautiful with its pristine white tablecloth, decorated with the never-ending arrival of beautifully presented dishes.

We then enjoyed an unusual concoction of eggplant and daikon served with a sesame sauce and grated ginger. It was an unusual blend of flavours but it worked well.

Our final dish before dessert was a white fish tempura wrapped in a shiso leaf and a white asparagus tempura. These were served with a small bowl of green tea powder, and the result was a salty, exotic taste. The fish was delicate and delicious, and the white asparagus was crunchy with a nutty flavour. White rice and miso soup also arrived to signal the end of the main courses.

At this stage we were served ‘hojicha’ and green tea, and it was a nice touch to be given another hot towel. We had shown interest in the ‘hojicha’, and to our pleasure the waiter brought two small bowls with the tea leaves in them for us to see!

Dessert was an exotic display of traditional Japanese desserts mixed with more western style ones such as a rich slice of chocolate and a mango sorbet. Even though we were full, we still enjoyed tasting each offering. We finished the delightful evening with an excellent coffee and an outstanding double espresso which was strong but not at all bitter, and unlike any other coffee I’ve ever had in Japan.
All in all Garden Basara offers an exquisite dining experience where you are truly treated like a king.

Garden Basara
Address:347-1, Clematis-no-oka, Tono, Nagaizumi
Budget:Lunch 5,000 yen Dinner 10,000 yen

Tim and Karen's review

Overall evaluation:
Value for money:

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