The Forest Inn Imari 1
July 23, 2013
Imari is best known for “Imari porcelain,” which was made in Arita, a neighboring town, and exported to Europe through the port of Imari during the 17th and 18th centuries. Kent, Linda and I stayed and dined the nights of March 27 and 28, 2013, in The Forest Inn Imari, a spacious, modern resort hotel in the wooded hills on the edge of the city.
After checking in to the hotel, we drove to nearby Okawachiyama, a lovely little hillside town with many small pottery and porcelain shops. We walked up and down its streets enjoying the ambience and the ceramics for sale.
The Forest Inn Imari, which has banquet rooms, must survive on special events such as weddings and conferences, as it was almost empty the nights we were there.
Its restaurant is divided into small rooms, including a teppanaki grill. Our places for dinner and breakfast were always set at the same table in its own room by a window looking out onto the garden and pond behind the hotel.
We ordered a bottle of Imari sake, made with 70% polished local rice. It was very good.
The first course was tai (red sea bream,) lobster and squid.
This was a beautiful and delicious way to start the meal.
Abalone with rape blossom sauce.
The abalone had been steamed and so was tender. Its slight sweetness was nicely offset by the bitterness of the sauce made from the blossom of the rapeseed plant and the blossom draped over it.
Seared foie gras on strawberry compote with a slice of homemade raisin toast and a little radish.
The searing was done perfectly. Excellent.
Taglierini, squid ink sauce, arugula, grated parmesan.
Despite all the Italian input, this seemed Japanese and was excellent.
Enoki mushrooms, shrimp paste formed into a bun, fava beans and dashi.
This calmed the meal down a bit in a traditional, elegant way.
Tempura of shrimp, its head, fish and a scallion.
This was served hot, as it should be. The burst of flavor from the shrimp head was the highlight.
The dipping condiments for the tempura were curry salt, salt and grated daikon.
Half of a small lobster with its meat put back in the shell, garnished with small mussels and miso.
This outstanding dish was served by the chef himself, who must have been justly proud of it.
Slices of grilled Imari beef with spring onion purée.
Flavorful lean beef, perfectly cooked and sauced.
This was the size of the traditional green tea , but was inappropriate and not very good.
We were amazed by the high quality of this meal. The European fusion ingredients and concepts were beautifully integrated into the overall Japanese cuisine. All of the ingredients were top quality. The composition and flow of the meal was very good. The service, pace and ambience were just right. We looked forward to a second dinner at The Forest Inn Imari the following evening.
In the morning, we were served an elaborate Japanese breakfast.