Le Sel Organic (ルセル オーガニック) serves scrumptious 5-course ramen in an all-stainless steel open kitchen and in casual kaiseki style, in the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto. Kaiseki is a Japanese haute cuisine dining experience involving multiple courses. It is known for its meticulous preparation, fresh seasonal and local ingredients and beautiful artistic presentation. The best part is Le Sel serves the most delicious ramen, with one vegan course.
Located just 11 minutes on foot from Kiyomizu-dera and 12 minutes on foot from Yasaka Shrine, this modern ramen restaurant is a great place for a vegan lunch in Higashiyama area in Kyoto where vegan restaurant, not to mention vegan ramen, is close to non-existent.
The cozy restaurant seats up to 9 people, is manned by one chef cum manager, and its kitchen island design allows one to interact with the young handsome chef, Tajima Koushou, while watching him prepare your appetizers and ramen in a seamless manner – a pleasant added-value to the meal.
Chef Tajima welcomed us and explained how the meal could be ordered from the ticket vending machine, which is usually found at many Japanese fast-food and ramen shops. The vending machine here serves as a gimmick, rather than an actual tool to place an order. It’s a uniquely fun food experience in Japan.
Chef Tajima’s professional and graceful kitchen moves were mesmerizing and contributed to the amazing experience at Le Sel. He juggled effortlessly and skillfully between cooking, entertaining his customers, serving dishes and refilling drinks. There could be 4-5 customers at a time, but the service remains consistently attentive and the courses are never delayed. He was trained at a cooking school in France and his high standards for hygiene and meticulously gracious and calm demeanor were witnessed throughout the meal.
The first course was a sautéed zucchini with Negi (ねぎ or the Japanese spring onion) purée, with grated walnut spring on top of the dish. The nutty flavor from grated walnut balanced the flavor from the normally pungent Negi.
The second course was the broccoli ravioli which was very well seasoned with the yuzu soya sauce, giving a light citrusy aroma to the dish.
Crunchy pickled pumpkin and eggplants were then served with rice and followed by the to-die-for ramen. The ramen is so unique with its soup being thick and flavorful and its noodle thin. The vegan ramen is topped with lightly stirred fried cabbage with smoky taste.
The course ended with a small, yet delightful, dessert which was yuzu sorbet with caramel sauce.
Each course was served in a relaxed pace one normally enjoys at a fine dining restaurant, allowing for a conversation with the chef or one’s accompanied person, and reflection of the tastes between each course.
The course included free-flow organic Japanese roasted tea, elegantly served in a wine glass. However you do have an option to order beer, sake or ginger ale, all organic, at an additional fee.
The 5-course meal is ¥2,500 and appetizers and dessert change seasonally. It is money well spent and the experience of a casual kaiseki dining was memorable.
Remark: Serves meat. Organic ramen restaurant with one vegan ramen course.