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Ogawa

Ogawa, located down one of these Gion capillaries, is small but uncomplicated: The counter-only restaurant seats six, and the chef Yosuke Ogawa serves wholehearted food in a a light-hearted setting. I have a feeling that when you scratch the formal surface of Kyoto’s traditional chefs, they’re sociable behind the serious manner — depending on their audience. On a recent visit for lunch during one of the first humid days of summer, the temperature inside the restaurant felt hotter than outside — being seated within reach of the grill didn’t help. However, the prix fixe lunch (I opted for the ¥5,000 menu), opened with a deliciously refreshing riff on a salad: a fruity tomato, stripped of its skin, in a gelatinous vinegar-infused broth studded with junsai (an edible pond weed that grows in a natural gel sac) from Hiroshima. This may sound like a mouthful, but it was literally only a mouthful, with the leaves and stems of the junsai adding a minty quality.