Eating at Kanga An costs an arm and a leg but we can't keep ourselves from going back again and again anyway. Easily the most extravagant of the shojin ryori options in Kyoto it's also open at night, which is unusual for temple food which tends to be a lunch affair.
The gardens are stunning and utterly unique, with lavish rock garden formations that are dramatically lit up at night: a brilliant view to accompany a magnificent meal.
The decor is a little Chinese in feel - very over the top compared to traditional Japanese tastes. Our room was punctuated by an over-sized Western style black chandelier and the colour scheme features a lot of strong colours: red, black and gold. It's luxury meets stoicism - like a runaway rogue monk - and provides for an unexpected and yet entertaining cultural blend. The hybrid theme is continued by the inclusion of a Western style bar on the premises - far from the usual temple setup but if you'd like to cap your night off with a whiskey, you've come to the right place.
The food is as indulgent as temple food never gets. No austerity here, this is a feast and no less. The flavours are robust, presentation is ornate. Admittedly it feels a bit altered to suit modern sensibilities but when it looks and tastes like this, it's hard to really care. The previous reviewer mentions it's not too tasty - unless she's in the habit of eating Big Macs every day this puzzles me to no end, but each to their own I guess!?
Book in advance (we always order the most expensive one - if you're going to do it, do it in style, right!?), take your credit card and try not to look too hard at the bill. You won't forget your meal at Kanga An in a hurry so if you think of it that way, it's worth every yen.
Cons: it comes at a price, a bar in a temple - not sure about this, menu doesn't change much seasonally