Kaiseki

The Japanese Art of Food

Kaiseki is known for its detailed  preparation and beautiful presentation.  Originally a meal of small dishes meant to follow Japanese tea ceremonies, Kaiseki has become a dazzling culinary tradition in itself.  It  remains  the quintessential Japanese haute cuisine, characterized by the perfection of its preparation and elegant presentation.

Exquisite bejewelled individual dishes each followed in sequence by a perfectly balanced counterpoint course. Whether clear  soup to cleanse the palace or delicate sashimi  or the intense flavours of Wagyu beef. Each dish the perfect miniature that allows the guest to crave more until the final desert dishes leave the guest replete.  The meal may have up to 14 courses but each dish is remarkable for the extraordinary simplicity of presentation that serves to highlight the superior quality of seasonal ingredients.

Kaiseki eschews strong sauces or overly complex arrangements. This absence of artifice means that every ingredient is freshly chosen and then carefully prepared to preserve its true flavour.   The strong influence of selected seasonal ingredients also serve to produce suitable dishes that reflect simplicity and harmony — the very spirit of “wabi”.

A typical kaiseki menu or order of dishes

Originally, kaiseki comprised a bowl of miso soup and three side dishes; this is now instead the standard form of Japanese-style cuisine generally, referred to as a セット (“set”). Kaiseki has since evolved to include an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course, in addition to other dishes at the discretion of the chef.

 

Sakizuke (先附) an appetizer similar to the French amuse-bouche.
Hassun (八寸) the second course, which sets the seasonal theme. Typically one kind of sushi and several smaller side dishes.
Mukōzuke (向付) a sliced dish of seasonal sashimi.
Takiawase (煮合) vegetables served with meat, fish or tofu; the ingredients are simmered separately.
Futamono (蓋物) a “lidded dish”; typically a soup.
Yakimono (焼物) (1) flame-grilled food (esp. fish); (2) earthenware, pottery, china.
Su-zakana (酢肴) a small dish used to clean the palate, such as vegetables in vinegar; vinegared appetizer.
Hiyashi-bachi (冷し鉢) served only in summer; chilled, lightly cooked vegetables.
Naka-choko (中猪口) another palate-cleanser; may be a light, acidic soup.
Shiizakana (強肴) a substantial dish, such as a hot pot.
Gohan (御飯) a rice dish made with seasonal ingredients.
Kō no mono (香の物) seasonal pickled vegetables.
Tome-wan (止椀) a miso-based or vegetable soup served with rice.
Mizumono (水物) a seasonal dessert;