祇園祭と言えば、鱧。祭りで大にぎわいの町に出ました。3年ぶりのなか川。お目当てはこのお店が発祥と言われる鱧しゃぶ。When we talk of the Gion Festival, we can’t but mention hamo, the pike conger, aka the Daggertooth. I ventured out into the festival crowds to Nakagawa, for my first visit in three years.

魚卵を豆腐状に固めたもの。繊細な味がします。This (below) is a kind of fish-egg ‘tofu’, with a gentle, subtle taste.

冷製おぼろ状茶碗蒸し。汗が引いていくようです。Chawanmushi, a cold savoury egg custard. It cools you down in the summer heat.

とこぶしの煮物。This is tokobushi no nimono, the Japanese abalone, steamed in its shell.

碗物は、鱧とじゅんさいのお吸い物。だしのひき方が絶妙で、塩気をそんなに必要としません。The wanmono was hamo with junsai, the gelatinous water algae often used in high-end Kyoto cuisine. The dashi is so wonderful that it hardly needs any salt.

これも夏の定番鰹のタタキ。家でも時折この季節には顔を出しますが、全然違う…鮮度もさる事ながら(この色を見て!)特製ポン酢で頂くこの、焼きたて?炙りたて?は、やっぱりほっぺが落ちそうなおいしさです。This is Katsuo no Tataki a regular summer favourite of bonito fish seared on the outside only.  I sometimes serve this for our dinner, especially in summer (you can buy it at any supermarket). But Nakagawa’s bonito is not only fresh but it is delivered to your table immediately after it is cooked which makes all the difference. It is served with a ponzu soy and citrus dipping sauce – fantastic.

鮎の塩焼き。シンプルだからこそ深い味。骨までバリバリと食べました!Grilled ayu sweetfish with myoga Japanese ginger. Simple is best. You can even eat bones.

ここなか川ブランドの発泡冷酒とぴったり決まります。It goes so well with Nakagawa’s own brand of sparkling, cold sake.

さーて、いよいよ鱧しゃぶの登場です。このなか川は、その発祥地と言われています。有次のお鍋に入れられた、黄金の出汁。ほんとに綺麗。Here we have it, the original hamoshabu nabe hotpot, in which thin slices of pike-conger are dipped so briefly into a pot of simmering konbu kelp dashi. At Nakagawa it is served in a beautiful (and very expensive) bowl made by Aritsugu, kitchen equipment makers since 1560.

金色のお玉の中ではカモフラージュのようで…. The dashi stock looks camouflaged on the golden serving spoon (that degree of clarity is one of the indicators of how good it is).

水菜やねぎ、白舞茸、湯葉などと食べます。食べ進む至福のひとときが流れて、おなかもいっぱいになってきましたが…. In the pot there are spring onions, white maitake mushrooms, mizuna greens and yuba bean curd skin.

鱧をお箸で入れるや否やのタイミングですばやく引き上げます。そしてポン酢にさっとつけて食べます。お出汁の中に入れると、まるで咲く花のように開きます。You quickly dip the pike conger into the broth using chopsticks. The swishing sound as you move it about is said to make a sound like ‘shabu shabu‘. The fish curls into this white, round shape, and you plunge it into the ponzu.

こんな風に….食感も最高です。適度に歯ごたえありで、中は柔らかい…Voila! The texture is amazing, part crunchy, part soft, and the taste divine. But our feast isn’t quite over yet…

これこれ!最後は鱧の出汁がしみ込んだ雑炊を〆に食べない事には。どんなに満腹でもこれは食べられます。実はこれが楽しみで、鱧しゃぶを食べに行ってる感、無きにしも非ずです。Here we go, zosui rice soup! You just can’t finish the course without it. You can eat this no matter how full you are!

〒600-8019 京都府京都市下京区西木屋町通四条下ル Tel 075-352-3522

定休日:月曜日 営業時間:12:0014:00pm (完全予約制);17:00pm23:00pm (L.O 22:00)

http://www.kappou-nakagawa.ecnet.jp/

Kyoto Shi, Shimogyou Ku, Nishi Kiyamachi-dori Shijo Sagaru.

Zoomable map is here.