FOOD GUIDE: Kaiseki (懐石, 会席)
Kaiseki (懐石) or also known as kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional, full course Japanese dinner comprising of different meals, served together. Kaiseki basically means, a collection and combination of different variety of skills and techniques, combined together to prepare this exquisite meals.
There are two types of Kaiseki. Note the difference between the written words in Kanji.
The first Kaiseki (会席) refers to a set menu of pre-selected food where food is served to the diner on individual tray. The second Kaiseki (懐石)is where the food is kept very simple and the host serves it before a ceremonial tea. It is also referred to as Cha-Kaiseki (茶懐石)
Today, Kaiseki is considered as a form of food art. The food is visually presented through careful balance of taste, texture, colours and appearance. Kaiseki is made with fresh seasonal ingredients and they are used in a way to get all the different flavors that enhances the dish even more. Kaiseki presents a seasonal theme with a beautiful appearance that creates a totally new aura.
Generally, Kaiseki is considered an exquisite dish, with the expensive ones ranging above 10,000 yen per person. But the experience of having a Japanese course meal prepared with the freshest ingredients would definitely be worth the price. And depending on the design of the restaurants, you might be seated in a place with a great view of the garden or even a private room with traditional interior decoration.
But casual Kaiseki is also served in Japan that would not break your budget.
The dishes served in the Kaiseki are beautifully garnished, often with real leaves and flowers. Don’t forget your camera if you decide to have Kaiseki in Japan!