Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Toriichi Shinise

Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)

Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
Matsutake is one of the most well loved — and expensive — foods in Japanese cuisine and it has been an autumn favorite in Kyoto throughout the centuries. Matsutake is in season now!

Masutake (松茸) in Japanese literally means ‘pine mushroom’. In Japan it grows under red pines.

Matsutake and Sudachi
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
Walking through the Teramachi Shopping Arcade yesterday, I noticed that Toriichi Shinise was fully stocked with matsutake, both domestic and imported. Autumn is indeed upon us!

The rich, smoky, earthy flavor, and especially the fragrance are much loved by Japanese. The signature fragrance of the matsutake is best extracted and enhanced by steaming or simmering, therefore it is most commonly seen in broths and cooked in rice. Sudachi, one of the three Japanese citrus fruits essential for cooking probably goes best with the unique flavors of matsutake.

Matsutake cannot be cultivated, so all are harvested in the wild. The people who gather matsutake must brave rugged terrain and steep mountain slopes as well as occasional encounters with bears and wild boars, even the odd rattlesnake.

The most favored matsutake in Japan, domestic matsutake fetch up to about $2,000 per kilogram. That is VERY expensive! Therefore, more economically priced imports from China, Korea and now North America and Europe account for the more than 90% of matsutake in Japan.

By law, imported matsutake must be washed and this dilutes and damages the flavor and fragrance. Imported mushrooms simply cannot be as fresh as domestic ones as well.

The best flavor and fragrance is contained in matsutake in which the cap of the mushroom is not fully developed. When I first came to Japan, it was explained to me that the best matsutake look more like a penis than an umbrella.

Cooking and Eating Matsutake
Matsutake gohan (matsutake rice), matsutake tempura and matsutake dobin mushi, or matsutake simmered in broth, are all wonderful autumn foods in Japan.

One of my all-time favorite Japanese dishes is matsutake dobin mushi, which is absolutely wonderful. Dobin is a ‘clay vessel’ and mushi means ‘steamed’. So, matsutake mushroom simmered and steeped inside a ceramic pot.

A small teapot-like vessel is filled with broth, a shrimp, a cube of chicken maybe a ginnan nut and a few pieces of precious matsutake. It is then simmered for some time and served bubbling hot. It is served with a slice of sudachi, which is squeezed into the broth. This is allowed to steep for several minutes at the table, then the broth is then poured into a tiny cup and is sipped, piping hot, just like tea. The fragrance of the matsutake infused into the broth is just exquisite!

After all the ambrosia-like broth in enjoyed, the pieces inside the pot are usually eaten, but their best flavors have been lost to the broth.

Toriichi Shinise
Toriichi Shinise sells the finest seasonal vegetables. It is a specialty shop and it basically sells only one item per season.

Spring: Bamboo Shoots (mainly from Kyoto)
Summer: Kamonasu Eggplant (from Kyoto)
Autumn: Matsutake
Winter: Senmaizuke, thin sliced pickles made from very large turnips. (from Kyoto)

Toriichi Shinise – Storefront and Seasonal Offerings
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)

Matsutake
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
The woven bamboo basket on the lower left is worn like a backpack by those gathering matsutake.

Matsutake Offerings
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
Prices are about $120 to $150 per basket! These are domestic matsutake.

Matsutake Split in Half
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)

Matsutake and Sudachi
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)

Matsutake and Sudachi – detail
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
The one at the bottom center is of optimal shape for matsutake, the cap is still not spread out.

Nicely Packaged Imported Matsutake
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
These are imported from Korea.

Chestnuts
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
Chestnuts are also pricey at Toriichi, these baskets are about $30 to $50 each. These are big, fat chestnuts.

Toriichi Shinise Staff Packaging Matsutake Gift Packages
Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Specialty Vegetable Store Toriichi Shinise (京特産 とり市老舗 松茸)
Toriichi Shinise, while just a small shop in Kyoto is a name known to many throughout Japan and when people want to sent the best seasonal gift possible, seasonal vegetables from one of Kyoto’s finest specialty shops cannot be topped.

English Service

English brochure: none
English website: none (Japanese language website)

Service/Staff: not friendly, several of the staff can be quite rude
Hours: 9am-9pm, open everyday
Location and Access: Toriichi Shinise is located in the Teramachi Shopping Arcade, just north or Sanjo Street. Ten minutes on foot from Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Line), 5 minutes on foot from Sanjo Station (Keihan line), 3 minutes on foot from Shiyakushomae Station (Subway Tozai line).

Address
Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku Teramachi-dori Sanjo-agaru Tenshojimae-cho 523 (京都市中京区寺町通三条上ル天性寺前町523)
Telephone: 075-231-1508

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8 Responses to “Matsutake Mushroom at Kyoto Toriichi Shinise”

  1. Great post! I love mushrooms and those ones look amazing!

  2. P-T says:

    What a fantastic shop. Looking at those raw mushrooms is making me hungry, must go hunt down breakfast…….

  3. kat says:

    autumn is definitely a delicious time of year!

  4. Nate says:

    Beautiful fungus!

    we had some matsutake dobin mushi last year at our favorite sushi-ya…it was so delicious, and, dare I say, sublime.

    So, even in America, the matsutake are wild-harvested, not farmed?

  5. Dan says:

    Thanks for the explanation about the shop and telling what one is to do with matsutake. I’ve passed it a couple times and always been intrigued, but intimidated. Now I’ll probably give it a shot.

  6. Jon says:

    I hunt matsutakes myself. It’s thrilling to find a one, a group, or even a whole crowd of them in the forest; Washington state (USA) that is. I sell them too, but the problem is that when I find a lot of them the price is down because there are so many in the woods, and when I can’t find them the price is up because they are hard to find!

  7. Mora says:

    If catching a flight to Kansai is a bit too expensive to enjoy matsutake dobin, there is always Hiroshi’s in the Pearl district of Portland, OR. We were there about a month ago and were surprised to find the dobin on the menu. Then again, we should have known better since Hiro-san offers the best sushi available in Oregon. It may not have been matsutake from Japan, but it was still delicious and confirmed fall was indeed here.

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